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'Precision health' key to Taiwan's future as global biomedical innovator

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At the Cabinet's weekly meeting Thursday, Premier Su Tseng-chang said Taiwan is setting its sights on becoming an international hub for innovative biomedical research and development and a world leader in "precision health."

The premier's remarks came following a briefing by the Executive Yuan's Office of Science and Technology on the achievements of the Biomedical Industry Innovation Program. Since the health of the population rests on the government's shoulders, biomedicine has been designated as a priority sector under the "five plus two" innovative industries plan, as well as one of President Tsai Ing-wen's six core strategic industries, he said. Through the collaboration of various government agencies, the program has produced many results, including integration of databases, cultivation of talent and innovative teams, and international market approval for new pharmaceuticals and new medical devices, all of which have helped drive up revenues each year. The premier directed agencies to continue focusing on precision health and plan for a future that envisions health for people of all ages.

Much progress has also been made in the establishment of innovation clusters, Premier Su continued. The National Biotechnology Research Park was inaugurated in 2018. Last year the National Taiwan University Hospital opened a branch in Hsinchu while the Southern Taiwan Science Park inaugurated its iBiomed Flagship Hall. In April this year, the Hsinchu Biomedical Science Park completed its second biotech building a year ahead of schedule and approved 26 tenant companies to move in, lifting occupancy to over 80 percent. The Executive Yuan also approved another NT$3.5 billion (US$118.6 million) in March for the construction of a third biotech building to help boost the biotech industry and spur employment and economic growth.

Amid the outbreak and spread this year of COVID-19, the experience and capabilities of the nation's biomedical industry have been crucial to Taiwan's outstanding response, which has been globally praised, Premier Su emphasized. Taiwan's success in producing diagnostic kits and developing therapeutic medicines and vaccine candidates also comes thanks to the concerted labor of all involved.

Under the auspices of the "five plus two" innovative industries plan and holding up precision health as a unifying theme for the future, the premier directed responsible agencies to bring together a multidisciplinary collection of innovative enterprises. Using big data platforms to enhance international links while weaving together the country's advantages in biotech, data technology and telecommunications, Taiwan can pursue advances in health maintenance, disease prevention, diagnostics, therapeutics, and comprehensive health care for all ages as it forges a future as a world-class center for innovative biomedical research and development.

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