AVING News interviewed Choi Dae-chul, the
CEO of INTHESMART, which participated in the MIK HOT SPOT (Made in Korea Online
What kind of company is NGeneBio?
Hi, this is Choi Dae-chul, the CEO of
NGeneBio. NGeneBio was founded on October 30, 2015 by the people in KT in-house
ventures. We have developed the genome analysis technology since 2010, and we
have commercialized the genome analysis platform for the first time in Korea. I
thought that the technology will be useful for personalized treatment of cancer
patients, so I left KT in 2015 and founded NGeneBio.
Company vision and goals?
NGeneBio's vision is to develop the
precision diagnosis product that can predict and prevent diseases and provide
customized treatment to people from all over the world so that many patients
can receive treatment easily and conveniently. For this, we have developed and
commercialized the precise diagnosis products. The cause for cancer is
different for every cancer patients. If you can pinpoint the cause, you would
be able to provide personalized treatment. To provide personalized treatment,
we are developing precision diagnostic products. By doing so, patients can
receive treatment with high therapeutic effect and low side effects. Doctors
can treat patients with high treatment rates. In addition, the government can
reduce the cost of medical treatment as the prescriptions for expensive but
unnecessary and high-priced drugs decreased. We are working hard on technology
development to realize this value.
Please introduce your main products and systems.
We have commercialized the precision
diagnostic reagents for patient-specific treatments and the analysis platform
for precise diagnosis only in Korea, and selling them. The main product is BRCA
accuTest related to breast cancer. This NGS technology-based in vitro medical
device product received the first approval as an Asian country from Europe. In
addition, for the first time in Korea, it obtained approval from the Ministry
of Food and Drug Safety in December 2017 and it is being sold in SNUH and St.
Mary's Hospital Gangnam with insurance applied.
The second product is the blood cancer
precision diagnosis product. This product is also sold to many university
hospitals with insurance applied. In particular, this product is currently
undergoing multi-center clinical trials for the first time in Korea. We plan to
obtain a food and drug license within this year.
The third product is a product that
performs precise diagnosis by examining cancer tissues related to stomach
cancer, lung cancer, and colon cancer. This product was also approved for in
vitro diagnostic medical device in Europe this year, and it is sold to many
university hospitals with insurance applied. This is in addition to the precise
diagnostic reagents we mentioned earlier. When a precise diagnostic reagent is
tested on a patient, many genomic data is produced. Accurate analysis of these
data is necessary to accurately diagnose patients without false diagnosis. At
that time, all necessary analysis technologies were automated, and
NGeneAnalySys software was released. So, by combining precision diagnostic
reagents and analytical software, we are making technological differentiation
from other companies, and we can show our unique technology outside.
In addition, we are also servicing the
personal genetic testing services for non-patients as well. This service is
currently in partnership with a large company called Ceragem to supply our
product. Also, we have developed the diagnostic reagents used for paternity
tests or criminal DNA testing and exporting them.
Please introduce your staff.
I am from KT's in-house venture and am
currently the CEO of the Korea Institute of Genetic Testing Evaluation, and I
am also a member of the Steering Committee of the Genome Business Council.
There are four people in my company including me from KT's in-house venture.
One of them is Director Kim Gwang-joong, who worked at KCDC and KT's in-house
venture. And, there is CFO Yoon Se-hyuk, who worked at the KT Group Strategy
Office and worked at the in-house venture with me. And, there is the software
division manager Hong Chang-beom who is also from KCED and KT's in-house
venture. In addition, we have Moon Young-jun, head of the overseas business
division, who worked at the global branch of Roche Diagnostics. We also have Oh
Eun-seol, Director of Bioinformatics, who was a senior researcher at Samsung
Medical Center working as a major management member.
The total number of employees in our
company is currently 72. Out of 72, eight are doctors and 36 are masters. A
total of over 60% majored in specialized fields, supporting the technology of
our company. What makes our company different from other bio companies is that
we have a separate IT manpower and a genome data analysis manpower. We have 12
people in IT, 8 people in genome analysis, and experts in biotechnology, and we
think that our company is following what's required in Industry 4.0 in terms of
What are your plans for the future?
We have local distributors in Europe, Asia,
and South America. Currently, we have signed contract with 13 distributors to
sell our products through distributors. Little by little, the export
performance is increasing. We are also conducting market research to enter the
largest market in the United States. Next year, we will be entering the US
directly. Also, we are planning to launch two new products this year.
The first product checks whether the bone
marrow of the donor matches that of the recipient when performing bone marrow
transplant. Existing products inspects one at a time, but this product inspects
11 at a time. This product greatly improves the inconvenience and inaccuracy of
the existing product. The second product helps treat the patients by testing
genes related to solid cancer at the same time. This product was successfully
developed through technical license from Asan Medical Center. We are launching
this in Q3 this year, and sales are expected to increase.
We have two core technologies. The first
technology is to develop reagents that require precise diagnosis. Second, it is
the data analysis technology that accurately detects mutations in genomic big
data from the reagent. By combining these two technologies, we have completed a
precision diagnosis platform, and by commercializing many precision diagnosis
products based on this platform, we would like to present happiness and health
to as many patients as possible.
What are the helpful KHIDI programs?
We are currently working on six national
research projects. Also, by performing various support projects, it has helped
us a lot. Particularly in July last year, we have worked on KHIDI's Startup
Leap Package Project and growth stimulation program, which have helps us greatly
in getting ready for being listed. Also, in December last year, it was selected
as a preliminary unicorn company by the Korea Technology Finance Corporation.
We were able to finance a large amount of money, and it helped our company
Any last words you would like to say?
Our biggest goal this year is the special
technology listing in KOSDAQ. Developing and commercializing our technology by
being listed, and exporting them overseas is our goal. Especially, we are going
to invest in the development of companion diagnostic technologies related to
immunotherapy or targeted therapies, the prognostic/forecast field of disease
through liquid biopsy technology, and infections like COVID-19 and
tuberculosis-related infections. Through this, we are going to generate big
profit in the next 5 years, and build the foundation for growing as a unicorn
The global news network AVING News has
begun holding the MIK Hot Spot (Made in Korea Online Exhibition) to help small
and medium-sized companies enter the market and attract investment 365 days a
year. AVING News has been running online exhibitions since 2005 and had 975
online exhibitions so far. Its YouTube online exhibition has placed itself as
Korea's largest online exhibition hall that opens with 19,000 videos (booths)
with more than 800,000 visits per month which means more than 10 million visits
The MIK HOT SPOT online exhibition is
scheduled to be held regularly according to the field, target market, and
participating institutions, and it will be presented as a new type of online
business by transforming the know-hows and values of the participating
companies according to the trend. Companies that want to participate can apply
and apply through the marketing support projects from supporting institutions
in the local governments. Refer to the institutions for more information.