In South Korea, an average of 250,000 individuals are newly diagnosed with cancer per year. This leads to 30% of all deaths attributed to cancer. The biggest challenge many biotech startups in Korea face when looking to find a cure for cancer is that cancer is not a single disease. Instead, it is a large collection of diseases, therefore a comprehensive national cancer prevention strategy is required to reduce the overall cancer mortality in Korea. Thankfully, there are thousands of research-driven advances that have been made in helping to fight cancer. Below are some of the top biotech startups in Korea that are working very hard to develop innovative solutions to defeat cancer once and for all.

Top Biotech Startups in Korea Fighting Cancer


Lunit Korean Medical AI Startups

Lunit is a Korean medical AI software company that focuses on deep learning and medical data to combat diseases. They are devoted to discovering, designing, and developing data-driven imaging biomarkers. These biomarkers help bring a high level of accuracy and efficiency in cancer diagnosis and treatment. Their product Lunit Insight CXR-Nodule is a web-based AI medical image diagnostic software. It helps make accurate diagnostics for lung cancer. Furthermore, they have tested their accuracy through clinical trials at Seoul National University Hospital. Currently, they are looking to sell their products and services to the global market.

“Data-driven medicine using AI technology has some similarity with evidence-based medicine as both analyze data to detect illnesses, but the difference is that deep-learning technology performs better than humans,” said Anthony Paek, Co-Founder of Lunit.

Their latest product for breast cancer detection is called Lunit Insight for Mammography (Lunit MMG).

Shinhan Investment Leads $26 Million Series C Funding for Lunit

Shinhan led Lunit’s series C round along with InterVest, Kakao Ventures, IMM Investment, and Lenovo Group’s Legend Capital. To date, Lunit has raised $135 million and will use its latest investment to accelerate the global sales of its AI software for chest and breast radiology. In addition, they will continue to drive their R&D efforts in oncology and pathology as they plan for their IPO in 2023.



Ticaros specializes in CAR-T cell therapy and has developed an immuno-oncology therapy to treat patients with relapsed and refractory cancer. The focus is on blood cancer treatment, but the aim is to apply it to various CAR-T cell therapeutics for solid cancer. Moreover, their proprietary platform solutions such as the Converter-CAR and CLIP-CAR were invested by scientists at Seoul National University. The Converter-CAR increases T cell activity by converting the inhibitory signal on the surface of T cells into an activation stimulus. CLIP-CAR increases the chances of eliminating tumors by modifying the CAR construct to make more CAR-T cells bind to tumor cells.

To date, Ticaros has raised over $25 million in funding from investors such as Shinhan Venture Investment, Woori Investment Bank, POSCO Technology Investment, UTC Investment, and the Korea SMEs and Startups Agency.


biotech startups in Korea Selecxine

Selecxine develops anti-cancer immunotherapeutic through a specialized antibody development process. The process uses an innovative platform technology for functional antibody screening and development. Therefore, the anti-cancer immunotherapeutic stimulates the immune cells and acts against tumor cells through the regulation of cytokine function. In addition, they have raised over $18 million in funding. Furthermore, they were awarded the Minister of SMEs and startup prize for a venture foundation promotion for merit program.



Oncocross is a Korean AI biotech startup that checks new medicine material adaptability with the existing medicines with its AI engine. They specialize in drug discovery and cancer drug development. Their AI Platform is called ONCO. It allows patients to get the best care possible and the correct medicine. In addition, it helps pharmaceutical companies to increase the success rate of drug development at affordable prices and in less time. Furthermore, Oncocross got $14 million for its Series B investment. Investors included Hanvit Investment, SmileGate Investment, G N Tech Venture Investment, KDB Capital, Hana Financial Investment, Wooshin Venture Investment, NAU IB Captial, Magna Investment, ID Ventures, KB Securities, SM Sino Technology Investment, Vision Creator, and eBest Investment & Securities.


BioTech Startup BioneixKorean Biotech startup Bionetix develops new medical therapies to fight refractory/relapsed cancer, glaucoma, and other incurable diseases. The startup focuses on developing novel drugs that would block, or inhibit, certain epigenetic processes linked to changes in tumor cell DNA that allows those cells to survive and begin spreading. They have a research and development department that focuses on developing new epigenetic enzyme inhibitors that are more effective than existing drugs. Therefore their use can be expanded to successfully treat a broader range of cancers. In addition, Bionetix uses comprehensive study results of public research organizations to develop new medicines and then generate preclinical and clinical studies.

They have collaborated with Birmingham-based Southern Research to produce life-saving anti-cancer agents and the identification of novel therapeutics.

“I believe that this collaborative research program will help to expedite the development of novel inhibitors into the clinic so that we can contribute benefits to cancer patients,” said the CEO of Bionetix, Doo Young Jung.

Bionetix has raised over $10 million in funding from Ost Investment, Mirae Asset Venture Investment, Ost Investment, and Company K Partners.


biotech startups in Korea

PANOLOS BIOSCIENCE is the creator of a solid tumor treatment candidate substance called PB101. PB101 aims to suppress the growth of tumors effectively by targeting various types of vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGF). The plan is to achieve successful IND approval for the validation of the substance. As well as establish a new platform to treat various VEGF-related illnesses. To date, the biotech startup has raised over $10 million in funding. In addition, they have partnered with Samsung Biologics in bringing PB101 closer to the market.

Novelty Nobility

Novelty Nobility

Korean biotech startup Novelty Nobility challenges the development of therapeutic agents targeting c-KIT which is capable of curing macular degeneration. c-KIT is instrumental in the generation of new vessels and increases vascular permeability under pathological situations. It increases in endothelial cells under states of hypoxia, which increases the generation of new vessels in endothelial cells by SCF. Moreover, Novelty Nobility intends to develop the c-KIT inhibitors as an anticancer agent applicable to diverse kinds of cancers. Moreover, the startup has been able to raise $9 million in its series A funding round.



Korean BioTech startup LISCure researches and develops bacteria-mediated immunotherapy. It is used to detect tumors, autoimmune diseases, metabolic diseases, degenerative neurological diseases, etc. Furthermore, the startup has 7 pipelines of medicine and two pipelines of health-functioning food. LISCure has been able to raise $5 million from seed funding investment. The seed funding round included NHN Investment, KB Securities, and Shinhan Investment.

Autotelic Bio

Autotelic Bio is an anti-cancer new drug development company. They research and develop new drugs for cancer patients by improving the efficacy and side effects of existing anti-cancer drugs based on A-SAM (Autotelic Bio-Synergy Action Mechanism). Furthermore, they developed mRNA-targeted anti-cancer drugs based on oligonucleotide through ASODE platform. Currently, Autotelic Bio has 3 anti-cancer drugs and 4 hybrid drug pipelines. To date, the startup has gotten over $6 million in funding from 5 institutions.


Korean MedTech Startup BisichemBioTech startups in Korea – BiSiChem is a cancer treatment therapy developer that was founded in 2017. They develop top-of-the-line cancer therapies. More specifically the development of molecule targets for immune-oncology therapy or targeted cancer therapy. Furthermore, their research team is very global with many having years of experience in the global drug development market. Moreover, they have a large network of hospitals and biotech companies all around the world. Furthermore, their platform went global in 2019 and expanded out of Korea and into the U.S. and Japanese markets.

BiSiChem got a $1.8 million investment from the Israeli VC Yozma Group.

Checkmate Therapeutics

Checkmate therapeutics

Checkmate Therapeutics was launched in 2019 by founders from Yonsei University. The startup aims to discover, develop, and deliver innovative therapeutics for patients suffering from cancer and other incurable diseases. Their top development is the CX-001. It is the first small molecule compound that inhibits the enzymatic activity of a target protein associated with tumor metastasis, therapy resistance, and immune evasion.


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