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제목 [코리아타임스] Seoul BioHub builds future for city
작성자 snow2+ (ip:)
  • 작성일 2020-03-04
  • 추천 추천하기
  • 조회수 42
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                                                                                                 Seoul BioHub, opened in October 2017, is leading the country's biomedical science industry./Courtesy of Seoul BioHub                         
 Seoul BioHub, opened in October 2017, is leading the country's biomedical science industry./Courtesy of Seoul BioHub

By Kim Se-jeong

In the 1960s and 70s, Korea's high-end science and technology industry was led by the Hongneung region of northeastern Seoul. The area housed universities ― Korea University, Kyunghee University and the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) ― as well as engineers and scholars, who together led innovations in the developing country.

Half a century later, the area is rebranding itself as the nation's center for biomedical science.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government is the force behind the movement, with a vision to make the country's capital a biomedical cluster both for the nation, and for Asia.

To begin, Seoul city purchased property from the Korea Rural Economic Institute ― the institute relocated itself to Naju, South Jeolla Province, in 2015 ― and transformed it into the Seoul BioHub.

Upon its official launch in October 2017, the city joined hands with the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI) to oversee management and operation.
Seoul BioHub is currently home to 68 startup companies across the biomedical industry.

The startup Bioway develops pancreatic and hepatocellular tumor drugs, while Ilias Biologics conducts research into the treatment of sepsis. LABnPEOPLE develops microneedles and other bio-absorbable materials, and HUINNO creates wearable electrocardiograms for arrhythmia patients.

Seoul BioHub offers office and lab space to the resident companies at below-market prices, while providing workshops across areas such as accounting, patents, trademark applications and biopharmaceutical R&D. _ workshops are also open to non-resident companies which need help. Resident companies can stay in the BioHub for maximum four years.

"We welcome startups with strong ideas and technologies," Kang Dae-wook, Seoul BioHub's general director told The Korea Times. But, one important pre-requisite is that the company's product contributes to improving human health.

"Seoul BioHub's support is geared toward improving human lives. Any company in the biotechnology, medical technology and health technology can apply."

The hub boasts an optimal location, with nine universities, six medical centers and nine research institutes within the vicinity. "Hongneung is an area of major research centers, universities and hospitals," said Kang. "It's the perfect site for Seoul BioHub."

Seoul BioHub is part of the Hongneung Biomedical Cluster spearheaded by the city government.

This year, Center for Integrating BT-IT will open close to the BioHub.

"Seoul City is supporting and nurturing the biomedical industry in the city," Kang said.

The city's campaign to support biomedical companies is in line with global developments in the healthcare sector, driven in part by a growing and aging population. Focus on chronic diseases is shifting towards prevention, and early detection.

In Korea, the healthcare sector is viewed by many as a pillar that will drive Korea's economic prosperity. With this in mind, the government undertook policy reform and granting increased financial support to the private healthcare sector.

The central government also runs Osong Biovalley in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province and Wonju Medical Industry Technovalley in Wonju, Gangwon Province to support promising young companies.

Last year, the central government also introduced strategies aimed at nurturing healthcare industries and, earlier this month, it announced the decision to remove certain key regulations in order to establish a more level playing field for related companies.

"The world's pharmaceutical market has grown by 6 percent every year since 2005, reaching $1.14 trillion in 2017. In 2020, the figure is expected to reach $1.43 trillion, which is higher than the semi-conductor and aerospace sectors combined," Kang said.

He also pointed out that the biomedical industry creates two times as many jobs as the manufacturing industry, and the quality of its employment is also high.

Johnson & Johnson ― an international corporation developing medical devices, pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods ― is Seoul BioHub's business partner.

Johnson & Johnson helps discover startups deemed to have potential and sometimes purchase a company developing promising technology. 'Seoul Innovation QuickFire Challenge' is an annual contest organized by Johnson & Johnson, together with the city government and the KHIDI, which awards companies with the promising medical technologies. This year will see the fourth round of the contest in Korea.

In addition to Johnson & Johnson, the Swiss healthcare company Novartis, and American pharmaceutical company MSD, are also partners of Seoul BioHub.


'We want to stay here as long as possible'

                                                                                                 Seoul BioHub, opened in October 2017, is leading the country's biomedical science industry./Courtesy of Seoul BioHub                         
 LABnPEOPLE CEO Cho Sung-youn

Founded in 2016, LABnPEOPLE develops microneedles and bioabsorbable materials, and was one of the first groups to reside in Seoul BioHub.

CEO Cho Sung-youn praised Seoul BioHub's convenient location.

"It's right in the middle of the city," said Cho. Prior to Seoul BioHub, LABnPEOPLE was headquartered in Yangju, Gyeonggi Province, and so Cho knows well the benefits of having a central office.

"I need to hire quality researchers, but that's difficult when the office is located outside of Seoul. I also have to meet with investors and research partners who are mostly based in the city. Having an office in the city is important for businesses," Cho said. LABnPEOPLE works with research partners at both Korea University and KIST.

The company also develops minimally invasive devices used to treat spinal stenosis, and microneedles in patch-form with anti-acne and anti-wrinkle properties. The anti-acne patch will soon go on sale at Olive Young - a major health and beauty store - and the anti-wrinkle patch is currently distributed in Japan.

Last year, LABnPEOPLE saw sales of approximately 100 million won. "Despite the ongoing coronavirus concerns, we project bigger profits this year," Cho said.

LABnPEOPLE CEO hailed Seoul BioHub's "All-in-One designated consulting," a service customized to individual companies for its quality.

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