Merck Group and Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology’s MoU will entail M Ventures helping grow South Korea’s ecosystem.

Matthias Heinzel

Image of Matthias Heinzel, member of the executive board of Merck and CEO of life science, courtesy of LinkedIn.

M Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of German pharmaceutical firm Merck Group, will assist university Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)’s entrepreneurial team to review startups in the latter’s ecosystem.

Launched in 2009, M Ventures is based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and focuses on biotechnology, healthcare, life sciences, electronics and sustainability technology developers. Its 79 active portfolio companies are mostly based in Europe and the US.

The partnership is part of a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between Merck and KAIST, involving both entities collaborating on industrial research and development initiatives in the country, including a joint experience lab.

In addition to fostering South Korea’s startup ecosystem through the CVC unit, Merck will provide its chemistry and biology products for the KAIST researchers to use.

Merck has been in South Korea for three decades and has had multiple strategic collaborations with local companies. For example, Dutch antibody-drug conjugate technology developer Synaffix, a former M Ventures portfolio company, entered a licensing agreement with South Korean pharmaceutical firm Chong Kun Dang Pharm in February 2023.

A month after the licensing deal, Merck made a €300m ($325m) investment to develop a bioprocessing production facility in Daejeon, a city located about 170 km south of Seoul.

“Our collaboration with KAIST is an important step towards accelerating the biotechnology ramp-up for both the local and global life science industry,” said Matthias Heinzel (pictured), member of the executive board of Merck and CEO of life science.

“Advancing research and preparing the next generation of scientists is key to discovering new medicines to meet the needs of a global population – this is how we impact life and health with science.”

Edison Fu

Edison Fu is a reporter and Asia liaison at Global Corporate Venturing.