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SK Bioscience – Early expansion in bio business with COVID-19 vaccine

Notable points about SK Bioscience. Ready for IPO next year by signing LOI for global supply of COVID-19 vaccine and receiving Bill Gates’ development fund. Corporate value estimated to be USD 2.5 billions by developing three COVID vaccines and being selected as the world’s no. 1 contract manufacturer of COVID vaccine candidate.

SK Bioscience Korean Startup pangyo COVID-19 vaccine

SK Bioscience the next supplier of COVID-19 vaccine

SK Bioscience, a subsidiary of SK Chemicals, is pursuing an IPO next year. Then, two factors have been raised for the prospect they will benefit the most in the post-COVID era. First, the LOI for the global supply of the world’s fastest-developing COVID-19 vaccine candidate from UK’s AstraZeneca has been signed on July 22. Second, after the foundation made by Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft funded $3.6 million. It praised that Korea is leading the area of vaccine development in the private sector by mentioning the development of COVID-19 vaccine as an example on July 26.

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SK Bioscience is currently developing three vaccines related to COVID-19. One in-house, one for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and one national project. Since last March, SK Bioscience has been conducting basic research such as producing candidate vaccines and conducting animal experiments to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 synthetic antigens. Its goal is to start the clinical trial as early as September and being approved the second half of next year.

In May, SK Bioscience received $3.6 million in R&D fund for the development of the COVID-19 vaccine antigen from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Bill Gates, President of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said in a letter to President Moon Jae-in on July 20, “If SK Bioscience succeeds in vaccine development, it will be able to produce 200 million vaccines annually from June next year.” This is the expression of his expectation that SK Bioscience will be able to develop its own vaccine next year, apart from the project to manufacture AstraZeneca’s vaccine.

Three LOI already signed for the Korean Startup

With the direct need for vaccine development due to COVID-19 pandemic, SK Biosciences recently signed a three-way LOI agreement with the Ministry of Health and Welfare and AstraZeneca for the global supply of AZD1222, a candidate substance for COVID-19 vaccine. AZD1222 was developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. And according to WHO’s announcement, it is currently the world’s fastest clinical trial that entered Phase 3. 

SK Bioscience is one of the global partners of AstraZeneca and will participate in the manufacturing of AZD1222. The Ministry of Welfare, which has been in the scene since the beginning of the discussions between the two companies, plans to support for the rapid vaccine manufacturing and export. On top of this, MFDS’s cooperation effort with AstraZeneca for bringing in AZD1222 in Korea will also begin.

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Such reception of attention to SK Bioscience is greatly contributed by SK Bioscience’s Vice Chairman Choi Chang-won. In 2006, Choi became the CEO of SK Chemicals, he had developed the vaccine business in full force. He had built infrastructure from 2008, and made a large-scale investment of 500 billion won to expand the bio business. In 2012, the vaccine factory L House was built in Andong, Gyeongbuk Province. SK Bioscience currently owns the world’s first tetra cell-culture influenza vaccine Skycellflu Tetra, SKY Zoster for herpes zoster, and SKY Varicella for chickenpox.

The South Korean Startup from Pangyo province performance is improving every year. Last year, sales were 183.2 billion KRW and operating profit was 22.1 billion KRW. Up 107.8% and 45.3% from last year, respectively. With such development performance, SK Bioscience is bound to be evaluated trillion KRW in the corporate value in the near future.

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Leo Thevenet is a technology enthusiast and a devoted fan of the startup world. His journey began after completing his Bachelor's degree in Software Engineering in France. However, it was his experience earning a Master's degree in IT from the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, that truly ignited his passion for innovation and entrepreneurship. With an insatiable desire to learn and share, Leo brings you the latest updates and insights on the startup scene. His enthusiasm for global innovation knows no bounds, and you'll often find him attending and covering major startup events worldwide. From CES and Web Summit to Slush and beyond, Leo is your go-to source for news and trends in the tech industry. Thanks to a strategic partnership with a government association in South Korea, Leo also delivers exclusive updates on cutting-edge innovations from the region. Stay tuned to Startup World to benefit from Leo's wealth of knowledge and expertise as he continues to explore the ever-evolving landscape of startups and technology.

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