[Photo provided by Yuhan Corp.]
Traditional pharmaceutical companies in Korea are eagerly exploring open innovation with startups to push their frontiers.
Open innovation means shared R&D process by using collective knowledge and resources of external parties. It can save time and money for established pharmaceutical companies.
On Tuesday, Yuhan announced an equity investment deal with a biotech startup for joint research. Yuhan said it invested an additional 10 billion won ($8.83 million) in Aprilbio, a startup for developing antibody therapies, becoming a second largest shareholder of the company with a 13.8 percent stake. Earlier, Yuhan invested 3 billion won into Aprilbio in recognition of Aprilbio’s technology potential.
Yuhan is one of the most active Korean pharmaceutical companies in the implementation of open innovation. Yuhan’s non-small cell lung cancer drug Leclaza, which was authorized as the country’s 31st novel drug was a result of its cooperation with a local biotech startup.
On Monday, Handok signed an equity investment worth 3 billion won with digital therapy developer Welt to jointly develop digital therapies to treat alcoholism and insomnia. Welt, a spinoff from Samsung Electronics in 2016, aims to launch the country’s first commercially available digital therapy. Handok has leveraged open innovation for business growth and its partner startups include Genexine, SCM Lifescience and ABL Bio.
Daewoong Pharmaceutical on Monday signed a joint research deal with Oncocross, an artificial intelligence-based drug developer. Oncocross has an AI-driven platform technology to identify promising candidate drugs and new therapeutic areas of existing medicines. Daewoong plans to apply Oncocross’ AI platform technology to investigational drugs to verify the possibility of expanding drug indications.
By Chung Ji-sung and Minu Kim
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