Professor Kim Wankyu Succeeded in Attracting Five-Billion-Won-Investment in His Big Data-AI-Based Drug Discovery Venture
Professor Kim Wankyu of Life Science attracted Series A investment worth 5 billion won for KaiPharm, an AI-Data driven drug discovery venture. Professor Kim raised series A investment funding just in 14 months after he set up the venture firm, and plans to build a globally unique reference database for drug-induced gene expression profiles.
Kaipharm, which was founded by a research team led by Professor Kim Wankyu in 2018, develops the next generation platform for new medicines through unique bioinformatics analysis, big data mining and virtual search technology. Kim said that, with this technology, we can treat cells with drugs to analyze the expression patterns of approximately 20,000 human genes, and thereby produce a wealth of information on the mechanism of action of the drugs. In addition, the technology can be utilized to find a new indication by investigating whether a change in transcriptome patterns of a developing drug is similar to the action of an existing drug, or by comparing that with the pattern in the state of a particular disease. With this investment, KaiPharm and Institut Pasteur Korea decided to jointly generate an NGS-driven drug-induced transcriptome database (KMAP project). Based on this project, KaiPharm plans to develop new drugs in collaboration with research institutes, universities and pharmaceutical companies at home and abroad and provide analysis services.
Previously, KaiPharm was selected as a recipient of Tech Incubator Program for startup Korea (TIPS) by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups and received seed investment. With the Series A investment funding that the firm raised from KB Investment and other six entities, now KaiPharm secures a total of 7 billion won. KaiPharm was established through a startup support program for faculty which includes “Ewha labs venture certification” and provision of a startup space within the laboratory. The firm has actively engaged in student employment and startup for students and recruited three undergraduates as interns during this winter session alone, contributing to nurturing talents.
Kim said, “It has been ten years since I joined Ewha. During the first five years, I conducted research on genomics, bioinformatics and systems biology, which are my major field of study. Over the last five or six years, I focused on combining my previous research with development of new drugs, which led to the establishment of a venture firm.” "I want to contribute to bringing innovation to drug development through the convergence of data science and biomedical science," he added.
Over the last couple of years, the Department of Life Science saw excellent members of the faculty launching a startup company, including Kang Sang Won (Vastera, inflammatory regulation), Bae Yun Soo (Celros Biotech, vascular disease treatment), and Shim Hyunbo (Curocell, Anticancer immunotherapy).