In Partnership with KOTRA: Uncovering the Korean Biotech Start-Up Scene at RESI Boston

17 May

By Claire Jeong, Research Analyst, LSN


Even with the RESI Boston conference less than 3 weeks away, the upcoming conference continues to attract an international crowd of early-stage companies and investors. In last week’s newsletter, we discussed how over 1/3 of the registered attendees are coming from firms based outside of the USA. For this particular event, Life Science Nation (LSN) has been working closely with the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) to showcase innovative technologies from South Korea across therapeutics, medical devices, diagnostics, and digital health.

The Korean biotech ecosystem has certainly been growing in all aspects. This year, the government has pledged to invest over $328M (USD) to support the development of new biotech (1). For many years, South Korea has been well-established as a R&D hub – beyond the capital city of Seoul, other cities to keep an eye on include Songdo International City (home to large biotech companies, including Celltrion and Samsung BioLogics) and Daejeon (home to KAIST and a newly established biocluster, the DAEJEON Bio Venture Town). An increasing number of pharmaceutical groups are seeking innovations globally for in-licensing and equity investment. Some groups, like Yuhan Corporation, are planning to expand their operations in the USA, among other developed nations (2).

With these series of recent developments that have been contributing to the growth of Korean biotech/healthcare technologies, it is only natural that more start-up companies are seeking to meet and partner with global firms. Without further ado, here are the Korean companies that are attending and available to meet at RESI Boston!

Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA):
KOTRA, a global business platform, supports small and medium-sized Korean enterprises to explore overseas markets through its 127 offices/networks in 87 countries around the world. This year, KOTRA has partnered with KoreaBio (Korea Biotechnology Industry Organization), KIMST (Korea Institute of Marine Science & Technology Promotion) and COMPA (Commercialization Promotion Agency for R&D Outcome) in presenting a number of promising Korean biotech startups to the world. KOTRA strives to share its expertise and collaborate with these organizations to help biotech startups succeed, continue to grow, and expand its business abroad.

Korean Free Economic Zones (K-FEZ):
Korean Free Economic Zones are specially designated areas created to improve the business and living environment for foreign-invested firms in Korea. Since the 2003 inauguration of an FEZ in Incheon, the number of FEZs in operation has grown to eight: Incheon, Busan-Jinhae, Gwangyang Bay Area, Daegu-Gyeongbuk, Saemangeum-Gunsan, Yellow Sea, East Coast and Chungbuk.

Deep Medi Inc:
DeepMedi developed the first monitor able to read blood pressure from only a smart phone camera without additional special  equipment. Using their artificial intelligence based model, the user can estimate blood pressure from a pulse wave.

L-BASE has developed new peptide drugs for multi-drug-resistance cancers. By controlling the function of a new CTA (Cancer-Testis Antigen), CAGE, these peptide drug candidates can solve multi-drug resistances in cancer, especially lung cancer with T790M mutation and breast cancer. These drug candidates are a first in class in multi drug resistance and now at the stage of IND preparation. L-BASE has published more than 15 international papers on CAGE functions, and has applied for several IPs about peptides drug candidates which control CAGE function.

CellSafe is developing the first bone graft products with dual functions of bone formation and the inhibition of bone destruction which will replace BMP2 (Bone morphogenetic protein 2) products.


MDimune is developing innovative therapeutics for cancer and COPD in order to solve the highly unmet medical needs with BioDrone® technology, which is a target specific drug delivery platform based on artificial exosomes derived from human cells such as immune cells and stem cells.

NosQuest, Inc:

NosQuest is a diagnostics company that develops analytical software and databases to identify microorganisms as well as to diagnose stages of diseases (currently breast & ovarian cancers).  NosQuest is also developing an artificially intelligent cloud-based platform for library diagnostics where hospitals and eventually, patients can access the platform for diagnosis/prognosis.

RADIANQBiO offers breakthrough on-site microchip platforms in resource-poor settings for solving many global heath care challenges, such as rapid detection & prevention of foodborne and waterborne pathogens, to broaden access to unrestricted healthcare & pharmaceutical services, e.g. super-easy platforms for rapid drug screening & clinical trials.


PANAGENE is a sole provider of PNA (DNA analogue) for commercial use and has its own technologies for mass production and various application of PNA. PANAGENE’s diagnostic products are used to identify personalized medicine for patients with various cancer and to detect infectious diseases. Also, PANAGENE developed the first in class detection kit in liquid biopsy in Korea.

Optolane Technologies Inc:
OPTOLANE is a semiconductor integrated In-Vitro Diagnostic (IVD) platform company that is developing POC-MDx solutions of real-time PCR (qPCR) and digital PCR (dPCR) system by using CMOS sensor based technology.

THE WAVE TALK developed a laser-based sensor detects any impurity (including bacteria), even in running water, and continuously and non-disruptively sends a signal to any device, including mobile applications. Their laser-based sensor is extremely more accurate than conventional lasers and is able to detect even low concentrations of bacteria based on its movements in real-time.

Infit & Company Inc:
Infit & Company Inc. was established on the disruptive biological tissue-analyzing technology to fulfill new paradigm of healthcare. Quantified and physiological value will be used in various wellness and medical applications such as belly fat scanner, breast cancer diagnosis device.

ImmuneMed Inc:

ImmuneMed was established in 2000 as one of the pioneer biotech venture companies in Korea. The platform technology of ImmuneMed is phenotype-based excavation of antigen & antibody. First in class anti-viral immunoglobulin (IgG4) drug candidate is effective for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, influenza and dermatitis. Original IP of drug candidate was issued in 2004 and Material IP was applied in Korea and 8 regions around the globe (2016).

Quratis Inc:

Established in 2016 as a venture company, Quratis works as an important base for research partners to cover the Asian region including China with its TB vaccine and other products. Quratis, which has a long-term joint research project with Yonsei University Health System, concluded an exclusive license agreement with research partners for a tuberculosis vaccine in 2017.

Bally’s Co., Ltd:
This young social venture company manufactures pet food by up-cycling agricultural and fisheries products, which are undervalued with its corporate mission of “no life to be dumped”.


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