SK Bioscience, in the midst of a worldwide expansion push, has revealed a growth strategy aimed at increasing the company’s influence in vaccine production as well as research and development.
The South Korean firm plans to invest in cutting-edge platform technologies and innovative treatments for cell and gene therapy. It also seeks to enhance its worldwide partnership, research, and manufacturing capacities in order to improve preparation for potential pandemics and advance innovative therapies.
In a press release, Jaeyong Ahn, the company’s CEO, said, “Although it is a difficult situation due to the deterioration of the internal and external business environment, we are implementing a business strategy to raise the vaccine R&D and production infrastructure to a global level in order to meet the expectations of stakeholders.” The plan was pitched as ‘SKBS 3.0’ to investors.
SK Bioscience also stated that it intends to use and expand its SKYCovione platform to combat the endemic phase of COVID. SKYCovione was the first COVID-19 vaccine developed in South Korea. Numerous vaccines, such as those for influenza and hepatitis B, have been developed using recombinant protein vaccine technology, which forms the basis of the platform.
Not only that, but the company also hopes to secure additional global CMO and CDMO partners in addition to extending its current CDMO partnership with Novavax for the COVID-19 vaccine. For the company to grow beyond the vaccine market, it believes it must secure technologies in all facets of the cell and gene therapy (CGT) industry.
As of now, construction is underway on the Global Research and Process Development (R&PD) Center in Songdo. It will serve as a hub for the worldwide network and progressively safeguard the foundation for all fields of biopharmaceutics. Through extensive expansion and the addition of more world-class production facility certifications, L-HOUSE – SK Bioscience’s vaccine manufacturing plant in Andong, South Korea – also plans to increase its production capacity fivefold.
Next year, the company will also resume making its SKYCellflu influenza vaccine, which was put on hold while it concentrated on SKYCovione. The flu vaccine is seen as a key to the company’s plan to increase its foothold in both the domestic and international markets.
With its groundbreaking cell-culture technology, SKYCellflu became the first cell-culture vaccine to receive the prestigious WHO PQ (pre-qualification) certification. Released in 2015, it currently holds the largest market share in Korea, and with production restarting, it is anticipated that this share will grow rapidly both at home and abroad.
With a single dose of SKYCellflu, you can prevent infection from four different kinds of flu strains. Antibiotic-free vaccine production is guaranteed in a sterile incubator using a cell-culture technique, in contrast to the conventional method of producing vaccines from eggs.
In another sign of the company’s lofty ambitions for the future, the company signed a deal with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) for the development of (mRNA) vaccines.
Under the terms of the agreement, CEPI will reimburse the business for research and development costs of up to $140 million. Based on trial results, an extra $100 million will be made available to fund late-stage trials, which will solidify the mRNA platform and prepare it for deployment during outbreaks.