A second biotech startup boom is underway in Korea, according to a researcher of the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB).
Venture capital companies’ investments in biotech companies soared more than 85 percent this year from last year, and more than 300 biotech companies started their businesses last year, said Kim Moo-woong, head of the Bioengineering Policy Center at KRIBB.
Kim disclosed the ‘2017 Biotechnology Statistics’ at a meeting with biotech entrepreneurs held at the Korea Bio Park in Pangyo, Gyeonggi Province.
The meeting was organized by the Ministry of Science and ICT to share the current status of Korean biotech startups and discuss measures to promote the biotech industry, which is one of the key industries that will drive Korea’s growth in the future.
According to statistics, more than 300 new biotech companies opened in 2017, continuing the startup boom of 2016 when 479 biotech companies were set up. In addition, venture capital investment in biotech companies this year (as of October) was worth 701.6 billion won, up 85 percent from last year's total investment of 378.8 billion won.
In addition, 13 biotech companies were listed on the KOSDAQ under the special listing rules for technology companies as of the end of November, the largest number in history, and 10 out of the top 20 listed companies in the KOSDAQ market capitalization as of October are biotech companies.
As of the end of 2017, the number of small and medium-sized and venture biotech companies in South Korea totaled 1,830, up 10% from last year, and those with experience in IPO increased by from 106 in 2016 to 119 in 2017.
The number of employees at small and medium-sized and venture biotech companies reached 48,041 in 2017, up 8 percent from 44,678 in 2016, and research and development subsidies provided by the government increased from 137.6 billion won in 2010 to 239.6 billion won in 2016.
Participants in the meeting suggested that the government and biotech companies should make sustained and bold investments as it takes a long time to commercialize innovative biotechnologies.