Korea’s bio-venture business boom peaked in 2016 and turned downward, but a recent report shows that the establishment of new ventures is still similar to that of the first bio-venture business boom in 2000.
According to the report by Biotech Policy Research Center, more than 300 bio-ventures were newly established in Korea in 2017.
“Though smaller than 443 in 2016, the number still marked a 50 percent increase from the 202 in 2015,” the report said. “Also, the number of bio venture startups was still larger than 288 in 2000 when the first bio venture boom took place.”
Between 2015 and 2017, about 1,070 bio-ventures started business in Korea. The number accounted for about 60 percent of the total number of small biotech firms operating in the country.
By sector, pharmaceuticals accounted for 43 percent, supporting services with 20 percent, and chemical and food sector accounted for 12 percent, respectively. However, new bio-ventures in the diagnostic medical device sector stood at only 2 percent.
The report also noted that out of the 2,312 bio-venture companies established in Korea so far, only 1,830 remain in business.
Of the 1,830 businesses, green (agriculture) biotech accounted for the largest share with 622, followed by red (healthcare) biotech (525), platform (342), and white (chemical) biotech (341). Red biotech was further divided into 362 medicines and 163 diagnostic medical devices.
By the type of products these companies are developing, those who developed low-molecular drugs accounted for the largest share with 158, followed by biopharmaceuticals (47), new concept drugs (40), veterinary medication (25), and drug delivery system (21).
Among platform businesses, reagents accounted for the largest share with 95 companies, followed by contract research organization (68), gene/protein analysis (32 sites), contract manufacturing organization (12), and laboratory animals (5).
By region, there were 471 in Gyeonggi Province, 328 in Seoul, 139 in Gangwon Province, and 131 in Daejeon. Notably, most bio-ventures for medicine and diagnostic medical devices were operating in Seoul and its vicinity.
Of the 1,830 surviving companies, 119 had made an initial public offering – 80 in KOSDAQ, 33 in KONEX, and one in KOSPI. The average period for the startups to register for IPO was 9.9 years.