Korean AI startup for drug discovery Standigm Inc. announced a strategic partnership with SK Chemicals for clinical development of Standigm’s AI-driven drug candidate for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) ahead of its IPO listing later in 2021. The collaboration will lay the foundation of Standigm’s Synthesis Research Center within the headquarters of SK Chemicals. The foundation will be opened officially around August 2021.
Project to enter clinical stage in 2022
The partnership comes post SK Chemicals’ participation in Standigm’s pre-IPO round of fundraising. Under the partnership agreement, SK Chemicals will collaborate with Standigm for the clinical development of the NASH drug candidate discovered by Standigm Insight™, an AI-aided drug-repurposing platform. The project is expected to enter clinical stage next year.
Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a liver disease characterized by deposits, inflammation, and tissue damage. NASH is the more serious form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is the most common liver disease in Western industrialized nations. There is no approved treatment option for NASH globally, but clinical trials are currently underway to investigate new treatment options for NASH.
“We are pleased that Standigm’s AI-driven drug candidate has found an experienced partner to bring it to successful clinical development,” said Jinhan Kim, co-founder and CEO of Standigm, adding, “This partnership will help us to commercialize our AI-driven drug candidates and enhance our ability and expertise in drug development.”
“Since 2019, we have had open innovation collaboration with Standigm, through which we have already experienced Standigm’s advanced technology. Our co-development effort resulted in patent filing of a repurposed FDA-approved drug for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) last January’” said Jeonghoon Kim, head of SK Chemicals research center, adding, “This positive experience convinced us that we could create greater synergy by making strategic investment into Standigm.”
Pre-IPO funding and initiatives
In March 2021, Standigm had announced that it had closed $44.5 million in a pre-IPO funding round led by SKS PE and Daishin Private Equity. The round also had follow-on investments from Standigm’s Series B investors Kakao Ventures, LB Investment, Atinum Investment, DSC Investment, and Wonik Investment Partners. New investors in the round included InterVest, KDB Bank, and Asset One. SK Holdings, the second-largest stakeholder in Standigm also participated. Standigm has planned its initial public offering (IPO) on the Korea Exchange (KRX) later this year.
New investment of $10 million
Meanwhile, Standigm, attracted an investment of $10 million (about 11.2 billion won) with Pavilion Capital, an overseas investment institution based in Singapore. Pavilion Capital’s investments are aimed at companies that are at the center of economic growth and transformation in North and Southeast Asia, with a particular focus on innovative technologies and the healthcare industry. Standigm CEO Jinhan Kim said, “I was very impressed with Pavilion Capital’s deep understanding of AI drug development during this investment process. In the future, we expect that new drug development research created with Standigm’s AI technology will be actively traded in the global market.”
Founded in 2015, Standigm is an AI-driven drug discovery company. The Korean startup currently has more than 20 preclinical pipelines across various therapeutic areas. Pursuing full-stack, AI-driven industrializing drug discovery, Standigm has achieved the automation of molecular design workflow through DarkMolFactory™, and the automation effort has been expanding to the whole drug discovery process on the basis of Standigm AI platforms, including Standigm ASK™ for target discovery, Standigm BEST™ for lead selection, and Standigm Insight™ for drug repurposing.
The company has raised total $68 million from leading investors and developed an elite team with multi-disciplinary expertise in pharmacology, chemistry, biology, artificial intelligence, and data structures. In January 2021, Standigm announced that it repurposed an FDA-approved drug for rheumatoid arthritis and applied for a patent through a partnership with SK Chemicals. Two patents for Standigm’s own AI technology were granted by the Korean intellectual property office in 2021.
- MediRita: Korean startup for Artificial Intelligence in the area of Drug Discovery
- Healthcare, COVID-19 response dominate CB Insights’ 2021 AI 100 startup list; Korean edutech startup Riiid gets a spot
- Korean medical practitioners who are running successful startups
- Top Korean startups in Biotech to watch out for in 2021