It has been found that money has flown continuously into the bio sector. Among Korean bio venture start-ups, five venture start-ups induced over 10 billion won (US$9 million), including Bridge Biotherapeutics that attracted the largest amount of funds this year.
According to a report titled “Investment in the Bio Industry in 2016” released by Intervest, a bio-specialized venture capital firm on October 19, Bridge Biotherapeutics found in September of last year attracted the industry's largest investment by attracting 13.5 billion won (US$12.1 million) in investment funds this year.
Bridge Biotherapeutics founded by Lee Jeong-kyu who worked LG Life Science (formerly LG Chem) has a business model that focuses on clinical tests by introducing candidate materials without directly developing new drugs. It is said that about one third of bio venture start-ups are introducing this business model in the US. As this model can save bio venture start-ups initial cost, it is popular in the bio venture start-up industry. Bridge Biotherapeutics is planning to expand its business areas such as beginning to develop “BBT-401,” an inflammatory immune disorder drug based on its excellent financial conditions.
This year, Apta Bio, a developer of targeted anti-cancer agents, SCM Life and Science, a developer of stem cell treatment drug, Toolgen which specializes in editing genome and Y-Biologics focusing on the development of antibodies for immuno-oncology medicines are receiving attention from the venture capital industry while inducing 10 billion won (US$9 million) in investment, respectively.
Among them, Y-Biologics received about 10 billion (US$9 million) in investment from venture capital firms including Intervest in April and signed a joint research agreement on new drugs to treat new liver cancer targets and new antibodies against liver cancer with Sanofi, a French pharmaceutical company in 2014.
Y-Biologics led by CEO Park Young-woo who worked as leader of the Therapeutic Antibody Team at LG Life Science now owns seven pipelines. “We will concentrate on research and development by attracting additional investment by year’s end.” said Park Chan-beom, vice president of Y-Biologics.
Some experts say that Toolzen has unique symbolism since the company attracted investment in the middle of October when a “bio bubble” theory was facing the bio industry after the cancellation of a technology export deal between Hanmi Pharmaceutical and the Boehringer Ingelheim. To top it off, investment in new venture start-ups are continuing as ABL Bio established by those who worked at Hanwha Chemical succeeded in attracting 9 billion won (US$8.1 million) in investment in February.
“It is estimated that this year, unlisted bio companies received about 200 billion won (US$180 million) in investment and including investment in listed companies, the figure will stand at about 2 trillion won (US$1.8 billion),” said Lim Jeong-hee, an executive director at Intervest. “Investment will rise as the bio industry sees an increase in successful cooperative cases between the government and the private sector such as the Pan-Government New Development Business Group and the reliability of Korean bio venture start-ups grows.”