When it comes to newcomers, startups in the biotech industry usually drive in the numbers. South Korea isn’t an exception to this trait as technological and knowledge advancements fuel new treatment and pathogen analysis forms. Biotech companies use life forms to solve problems through technology promoting health & wellness.
The two main branches of the industry are pharmaceuticals, which develop a new medication that leads to better health, and therapeutics, which analyze drug use and administration in terms of treatment. Koreatechdesk.com has compiled a list of promising Korean startups leading treatment, medicine, and therapy in 2021.
1. Sky Labs:
Sky Labs is a preventative healthcare company aiming to transform conventional hospital-centric care into patient-centric care with continuous monitoring of its daily life. The startup is best known for CART, a ring-type Cardio Tracker that helps monitor atrial fibrillation (AF), which is an irregular heart rhythm that led to symptoms that negatively affect the quality of life. AF itself is not life-threatening. However, if left untreated, the side-effects of AF can be life-threatening, leading to stroke or heart failure. CART detects AF using photoplethysmography (PPG) signals, providing 99.6% accurate detecting AF, real-time monitoring, and AF analysis. It also allows you’re doctor to access the data remotely and make recommendations.
CART gained worldwide attention in 2019 and 2020, winning the ESC technology competition in both years, the young investigator award 2019 in the heart rhythm scientific sessions, and the young investigator award 2018 from the Korean society of cardiology. Their focus for 2021 is to expand to the European and US markets through seeking sales licenses for CART I.
Noom is a health and wellness startup using mobile technology to help people to lead better lives. The behavior change company combines mobile technology, AI, and psychology with 1000 personal coaches’ empathy. Noom helps people live healthier lives by recommending eating plans designed by registered dietitians, giving users access to healthy food recipes, workout plans, and exercise articles.
Through the app, users can record their meals, get workout plans, and track their exercise progress. If you need support or motivation with your dieting program, you can quickly consult your assigned coach through the platform. The platform also has behavior change courses for diabetes prevention, which was the first of its kind to be recognized by the CDC.
3. Rokit healthcare
ROKIT Healthcare is a 4D Bioprinting and Biotechnology company that develops safe and effective organ regeneration using proprietary bio-fabrication technologies. With the aid of computer motions, 4D bioprinting can precisely create living cells and biomaterials layer by layer generating structures that mimic human tissues and organs. Rokit developed Dr. INVIVO 4D2 as the first clean-chamber bioprinter to print freeform cell suspensions, hydrogels, thermoplastic filaments, pastes, and other composite materials essential for both hard and soft tissue engineering. Dr. INVIVO 4D6 supports cell fabrication and storage through its 3-dimensional space, which comes with an inbuilt cell incubator and liquid handling functions that keep the cells functional during fabrication.
The startup offers anti-aging solutions such as NMN, which raises NAD+ levels and helps improve ‘aging-related’ diseases such as diabetes, brain, and cardiovascular diseases. Other anti-aging products include Aqua de Folli, which prevents hair loss, and Hi-Bikini reduces body fat. Rokit started an open innovation where it shares its regeneration technology through webinars and Youtube Live. It encourages other firms in the same sector to partner with them in continuous research and development.
4. Genome & Company
Genome and company is a Seoul based startup that provides innovative genomics products, bioinformatics consulting, sequencing services, and custom research solutions. The startup has a vast clientele for its medical institution, pharmaceutical companies, academic laboratories, and government agencies. The startup does custom curation of biological databases, including disease genetics, genomics, and proteomic databases.
Each of its projects fits the consumer’s needs and is delivered with multiple analysis tools that simplify and hasten the data analysis process. Genome and the company also provide customized bioinformatics models and strategies based on the researcher’s need to carry out genomic analysis and interpretation. The startup has secured over $10 million in funding and is planning to expand its services to the Japanese and Chinese markets in 2021
Exocobio is a medical and cosmeceutical company that provides skin regeneration, inflammatory diseases treatment, anti-aging products, and tissue repair. The startup’s products focus on Exosomes, which are nano-vesicles secreted by cells for intercellular signaling. Exosomes secreted by stem cells stimulate tissue and cellular regeneration.
The startup’s popular products include ASCE, Celltweet, and Exomage. Since its inception, the startup has secured over $46 million in funding, mainly from Korean VC firms such as KDB Capital, K2 Investment, and Seven Tree Equity partners. In 2021, the firm plans to increase its R&D in making GMP-compliant exosomes products and venture into the worldwide cosmetics market. According to Byong Cho, CEO of Exocobio, “We are going to step up our R&D and business so that ExoCoBio will be one of the leaders in the global exosome industry.”
Genoplan is a genetic testing startup that combines cutting-edge technology and its seasoned employees’ professional expertise to change the health and wellness sector. It uses innovative technology and facilities to provide the most accurate and fastest genetic analysis results. The user only needs to purchase their affordable home saliva testing kit and send their used kit to Genoplan. Typically, the user will receive the genetic analysis results within ten business days, along with a life-long membership, research updates, and a detailed analysis of all their genetic and non-genetic factors.
These detailed results allow the user to track their inherent characteristics, including susceptibility to certain diseases and behaviors. Genoplan is Korea’s first B2C company to enter the DNA testing market. Genoplan has secured $23 million in investment from their Serie A and B funding rounds. In 2021, the startup plans to build a platform where all its customers can easily access their genetic information and take preventative measures against any genetic risk factors they may have. It also plans to expand its offices to the Chinese and European markets.
Bionetix is a biotech startup specializing in creating new medical therapies to treat glaucoma, relapsed cancer, and other incurable diseases. The startup is keen on developing novel drugs that seek to inhibit or completely block the genetic processes that lead to tumor cell DNA changes, allowing them to survive in the host’s body and begin spreading.
Bionetix has a state-of-the-art R&D department that focuses on developing new enzyme inhibitors against incurable diseases that would be more effective than today’s standard treatment. It also uses study results from public research organizations to develop new medicines and subsequent clinical studies to ascertain their safety and effectiveness. It has currently collaborated with Southern Research, a British research firm, in developing novel therapeutics and epigenetic agents to fight off cancer.
8. The Wave Talk
The Wave Talk is Korea’s leading bacteriological sensor startup, which develops laser sensors up to 10000 times more powerful than today’s sensor. Unlike today’s procedure for bacterial identification and analysis, which can take days, the bacteria sensor takes a few seconds to identify different bacteria species in large samples.
The bacteria sensor can detect low bacteria concentrations on large sample sizes through its deep learning system, which would otherwise need expensive precise equipment. The bacteria sensor is set to decrease diagnosis-related medical costs and heavily cut down on the time taken to run nano and micro-particles tests. The wave talk has secured $6 million in funding from local VC firms such as Estech Pharma, LB investments, and the D2 Startup factory.
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