South Korean startup Standigm partners with SK Chemicals ahead of IPO

South Korean AI startup Standigm Inc. has reportedly entered a joint venture agreement with multinational conglomerate SK Chemicals Co. Ltd to develop an AI-driven drug candidate for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

This strategic partnership will also help in establishing Standigm’s Synthesis Research Center within the headquarters of SK Chemicals, which is likely to be opened in August this year.

The announcement comes ahead of Standigm’s IPO plans and follows SK Chemical’s participation in the startup’s pre-IPO fundraising. As per the new agreement, the duo will work on pushing NASH, which was discovered by the Standigm Insight™, to the clinical stage by 2022.

For the unversed, the Seoul-headquartered Standigm is a leading workflow AI drug discovery company founded in 2015. It has over 20 preclinical drug pipelines across different therapeutic areas and has managed to achieve automation of molecular design workflow through DarkMolFactory™.

Standigm had announced raising USD 44.5 million in March 2021 in a pre-IPO financing round which was predominately led by Daishin Private Equity and SKS PE. The round also saw investments from Series B investors along with its second-largest stakeholder SK Group.

Standigm planned its IPO later this year on Korea Exchange (KRX).

The co-founder and CEO of Standigm Jinhan Kim is of the opinion that the collaboration with SK Chemicals will benefit the startup in commercializing AI-driven drug candidates, while simultaneously enhancing their ability in drug development.

On the other hand, Jeonghoon Kim, the Head of SK Chemicals commented that the co-development effort with Standigm has enabled it to apply for a patent of repurposing an FDA-approved drug for rheumatoid arthritis in January this year.

Reportedly, Standigm has accumulated USD 68 million from existing investors and has a team with experts in AI, chemistry, pharmacology, biology, and data structures. In 2021, the Korean intellectual property office had also granted two patents for Standigm’s AI technology.