SK bioscience to establish $261m vaccine-biopharmaceutical hub in South Korea

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

The R&PD Center.
The R&PD Center.

Related tags SK bioscience Korea South korea pandemic Vaccine

SK bioscience has announced its largest ever investment to establish the Songdo Global Research & Process Development Center. As well as supporting the company’s work in mRNA, CGT and viral vectors; the site’s Open Lab will welcome external stakeholders to create a ‘global cooperative model’ of pandemic preparedness.

The R&PD Center will be situated on a 30,413.8㎡ site with completion due in the first half of 2025. At this point, SK bioscience’s current R&D center and headquarters currently located in Pangyo will move to the Songdo area of Incheon.

New cooperative model for pandemic preparedness

SK bioscience says it will secure the newest technologies covering the entire process from basic research to commercial manufacturing, to ‘ultimately create a global vaccine ecosystem to preemptively respond to new infectious diseases.’

Working towards this goal, the vaccine and biotech company plans to create an ‘Open Lab’ in the R&PD Center, which can be used as a joint research space for international organizations and biopharmaceutical companies around the world to develop new vaccines together with SK bioscience.

The facility will also offer training for personnel from other countries which do not have sufficient research capacities.

“The operation of the Open Lab will help promoting the ‘Glocalization’ business, a project which transfers SK bioscience´s R&D and production capabilities to countries with high demand for vaccines but insufficient human and physical infrastructure, and one of the main future strategies of SK bioscience,” says the company.

Vaccine and wider pipeline

SK bioscience – a spinoff from SK Chemicals – has already developed vaccines such as SKY Cellflu, the world’s first cell-cultured quadrivalent influenza vaccine; SKY Zoster, the world’s second shingles vaccine; and SKY Varicella, Korea’s only WHO prequalified varicella vaccine.

In addition to its existing vaccines, its strategy is to secure new pipeline and platform technologies for preventative and therapeutic vaccines as well as broadening its portfolio into the wider biopharmaceutical field.

At the same time, it wants to expand in the global market by participating in overseas public vaccine bidding and advancing into developing countries, as well as establishing domestic and overseas bases and partnerships to cultivate its CMO and CDMO businesses.

The new R&PR Center will contain BSL-3 (Biological Safety Level) research facilities to help SK bioscience develop its own vaccine pipeline: with this level required for developing vaccines against new infectious diseases.

The Center will also house a small-scale cGMP pilot plant to strengthen SK bioscience’s competitiveness in the CMO and CDMO markets.

The plant will also be utilized for new tasks under the main growth strategies of SK bioscience such as CGT (Cell and Gene Therapy) mRNA, and viral vectors platforms research.

“As SK bioscience is planning a future strategy to advance to new markets through JV (Joint Venture) and M&A, the pilot plant is expected to play a key role in leading cooperation and investment with other biopharmaceutical companies,” notes the company.

Since the plant can produce samples for non-clinical, clinical, and commercial-scale, SK bioscience will accelerate expanding its new pipeline through synergy with ‘L-HOUSE´, a vaccine manufacturing facility located in Andong area.

The total investment of $261m (325.7 billion KRW) includes a previous investment of $33m (41.9 billion KRW).  

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