Korea’s largest steelmaker POSCO is entering the pharmaceutical market.
Kwon Oh-joon, CEO of POSCO, said his company chose the biotech business as the next growth engine and laid out plans at a news conference, celebrating the 50th anniversary on Sunday.
“We’re very interested in biotechnology. Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) has the best capacity in biotechnology in Korea. We will link POSTECH professors’ patents with POSCO’s business,” Kwon said.
To expand the business into the biotech sector, POSCO is hiring experienced professionals in biomaterials, medical devices, new drugs, genomics, and brain science.
The steelmaker is searching for those with more than three years of experience to have them discover new biopharma business opportunities and examine feasibility. The new workers will be able to join POSCO in April, according to the company.
The pharmaceutical community welcomed the POSCO’s move, which was quite the opposite to other conglomerates’ recent withdrawal from the healthcare business.
CJ Group sold CJ HealthCare to Kolmar Korea and AmorePacific also auctioned off Pacific Pharm to Handok.
Among Korean conglomerates, Samsung, SK, KT&G, and Kolon have subsidiaries in the healthcare sector. They are Samsung BioLogics, Samsung Bioepis, SK Biopharmaceuticals, SK Biotek, Yungjin Pharmaceutical (under KT&G), Kolon Life Science, and Kolon Pharma.
Samsung, SK, and Kolon are heavily investing in the biotech sector to solidify their status, but they could feel burdensome as they have to directly compete against multinational drugmakers armed with chemicals drugs and global sales networks, observers said. Thus, the conglomerates want to enhance exchanges with local firms and reinforce infrastructure, according to industry sources.
As the supply of new workforce is limited in the healthcare sector, conglomerates’ expansion into healthcare field will make talent recruitment more challenging for companies.
However, large firms’ entry into the pharma industry will generate more positive factors because there will be more talents with diverse experience and a stronger infrastructure through collaboration between companies, industry officials said.
“In the biotech sector, workforce plays a significant role in new business projects. At an early stage, companies will face severe competition to recruit talented workers. But in the end, the industry will earn more,” said an official at a biotech firm. “A conglomerate’s entry into various new businesses such as biotech, medical devices, and precision diagnostics will create an encouraging atmosphere for the biotech sector.”
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