Hanmi spinoff to nurture new technologies

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Hanmi spinoff to nurture new technologies

Hanmi Pharmaceutical Group is supporting early stage biopharmaceutical start-ups by establishing a separate financing company, Hanmi Ventures, the company said Monday.

Hanmi’s move is the latest fund for investing in early-stage start-ups in the industry. But smaller investment companies have made little progress.

The financing company of Korea’s top drug maker will focus on supporting research and development of new drug compounds and funding promising start-ups in the biopharmaceutical industry.

Last year, the company signed eight trillion won ($6.96 billion) worth of export deals for its new drug technologies. The company announced in January that it will focus on open innovation to ramp up development of new drug compounds and technologies.

Open innovation refers to using external ideas as well as internal resources to advance a firm’s technologies.

Global biopharmaceutical companies have been investing in start-ups and technologies by setting up their own funding subsidiaries or independent financing companies such as the Novartis Venture Fund, Rosche Venture Fund and Pfizer Venture Investments.

Korea was slow to follow.

“We aim to establish a healthy ecosystem for open innovation through Hanmi Ventures and further strengthen a foundation for shared growth between [Hanmi] and biopharm start-ups,” said Lim Jong-hoon, newly appointed CEO of Hanmi Ventures, who also heads Hanmi IT, an IT solutions provider for the Hanmi group.

The group’s holding company Hanmi Science and affiliate Hanmi Pharmaceutical will be in charge of funding drugs at the stage of commercialization and already established small and midsize companies.

The investment company was established through 10 billion won in funding from Hanmi Pharmaceutical Group founder and Chairman Lim Sung-ki as well as partner companies. Registration of the corporation was completed last Wednesday.

Last year, Hanmi Pharmaceutical entered into an agreement with Sanofi, a French drug maker, to license the Korean company’s Quantum Project, a diabetes solutions portfolio in development.

The deal was the biggest to date in Korea’s pharmaceutical industry with an upfront payment of 400 million euros ($435 million) and further payments of up to 3.5 billion euros according to sales and developmental milestones.

The deal was followed by another licensing agreement with U.S. pharma giant Janssen Pharmaceuticals on a drug that treats both diabetes and obesity worth $915 in total.

Hanmi’s investment in R&D increased every year from 2011 until last year. While 84 billion won was injected in 2011, the amount grew to 187 billion won by 2015 to fund the development of new drugs.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]
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