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This week (30 April), the Government of South Korea announced plans to designate a regulatory-free zone in the Gyeongsangbuk-do province in the east of the country.


Through the establishment of the new zone, named Gyeongbuk Cell-Cultivated Foods Regulatory-Free Special Zone (RFSZ), the South Korean government hopes to minimise and address legal obstacles faced by cell-based meat manufacturers, advancing the nation’s workforce and progress in the sector, while also establishing global standards for the novel foods.


Local publication ET News reported that the South Korean government will invest KRW 19.9 billion (approx. $14.37 million) into the new zone, which will be operational for five years, starting next month.


The zone will harbour ten cultured meat companies: TissenBioFarm, LARTBIO, DaNAgreen, Seawith, Micro Digital, Mynu, LMK, SSBIO PHARM, K-Bio CMO Center and Gyeongbuk TP. It will consist of two major projects, the establishment of a cell bank and mass production, and demonstration of commercialisation.


TissenBioFarm will work under the sub-project 'Demonstration of Mass Production and Commercialization,' and will develop and demonstrate marketable cell-based foods, using its proprietary 3D biofabrication method for mass production and food additives for the taste and texture of the meat.


Han Wonil, CEO of TissenBioFarm, said:

“The designation of the GCFRSZ is going to be a major turning point not only for our company but for the local economy and the cell-cultivated food industry in South Korea. With this designation, we will strengthen our competitiveness in the global market and grow with local partners. We look forward to seeing Gyeongsangbuk-do becoming a global hub in cell-cultivated food technology.”

The cell-based meat RFSZ was inaugurated by the governors of Gyeongsangbuk-do and Uiseong-gun county and is one of various efforts in the country to build a more welcoming environment for cell-based meat. The governors recently finished work on a local industry support centre in its Bio Valley General Industrial Complex and are currently constructing a Good Manufacturing Practice facility for start-ups in this space, which is set to be completed later this year.


Gyeongbuk Province Governor Lee Cheol-woo told ET News:

“Gyeongbuk’s regulation-free special zone is driving the national economy beyond the local economy with new items that have never been attempted before. This designation of Uiseong as a cell cultured food special zone is a historic first that will be a turning point in the food-tech industry.”

RFSZs were introduced in South Korea in 2019 by the government’s Ministry of SMEs and Startups, designed to facilitate the a flexible business landscape that enables companies to carry out tests for innovative technologies and conduct business without regulations.


Initially, the government identified seven zones, focusing on areas such as digital healthcare, e-mobility and battery recycling. This is the first RFSZ to address food, highlighting the government’s growing acceptance of the cell-based meat industry.


#SouthKorea

South Korea to introduce regulation-free zone to boost cultured meat production

Phoebe Fraser

2 May 2024

South Korea to introduce regulation-free zone to boost cultured meat production

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