-SK bioscience makes a strategic equity investment in Novavax to respond to the endemic situation and strengthen their strategic partnership.
-SK bioscience and Novavax also extended their existing license agreement for Novavax’s updated COVID-19 vaccine.
-Companies are shifting their focus from a contract manufacturing model to a commercialization model.
SK bioscience, an innovative vaccine and biotech company committed to promoting human health from prevention to cure, announced that its board of directors has decided to make an equity investment in Novavax, a global company advancing protein-based vaccines with its novel Matrix-M™ adjuvant, securing 6.5 million shares of common stock through a private placement.
SK bioscience´s strategic equity investment comes at a time when the two companies aim to transition from a CMO/CDMO partnership formed during the pandemic to a long-term synergistic relationship in the endemic era.
Concurrent to the equity investment announcement, SK bioscience and Novavax have extended their current license agreement, adding Novavax’s updated COVID-19 vaccine, which is currently under development for annual vaccination. The agreement serves as a strategic shift of partnership from the pandemic period to the endemic phase, in which SK bioscience will obtain exclusive rights to Novavax’s COVID-19 variant vaccine in South Korea and non-exclusive rights in Thailand and Vietnam to supply and commercialize the vaccine.
SK bioscience will manufacture and commercialize drug substance and vaccine products (including pre-filled syringe products at L HOUSE) utilizing Novavax´ proprietary variant strain antigens and Matrix-M adjuvant.
John C. Jacobs, President and CEO of Novavax said, “This agreement is grounded in a productive multiyear relationship through which the companies have come to know each other’s strengths well. SK bioscience’s significant decision to invest in Novavax reflects their confidence in our scientific and commercial expertise, and the potential to increase value for both companies and their stakeholders. We look forward to evolving our relationship to focus on commercialization and identifying strategic future opportunities while we continue to pursue our shared goal of delivering life-saving vaccines in the region.”
Jaeyong Ahn, CEO of SK bioscience said, “We believe that the strategic equity investment and the continuous cooperation between SK bioscience and Novavax, which are among the few companies that focused on developing COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic, will create powerful synergy. SK bioscience is focused on developing a successful global cooperative model in terms of company growth, health promotion, and response to the next pandemic.”
Through the enhanced partnership, SK bioscience will explore potential future collaborations with Novavax such as utilizing the Novavax´s adjuvant, ´Matrix-M.’
Novavax is also developing COVID-Influenza combination, stand-alone influenza, and high-dose COVID-19 vaccine candidates.
SK bioscience Corporate Strategy
Through the extended license agreement, SK bioscience will establish a preemptive response system in South Korea’s immunization environment for the endemic era and enhance its global competitiveness as COVID-19 shifts to an annual vaccination market.
In particular, SK bioscience’s two-track strategy, which consists of the development of its own vaccines as well as fast supply of vaccines developed by global pharmaceutical companies, is expected to set the foundation for SK bioscience to systematically respond to the rapidly changing vaccine demands.
SK bioscience will continue to collaborate with international organizations and biopharmaceutical companies for development of new vaccine candidates such as the 21-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and a new mRNA vaccine. The company will also promote the ´Glocalization´ project which is transplanting R&D and manufacturing capabilities to countries that lack sufficient vaccine infrastructures.
For global expansion, SK bioscience is planning to accelerate entry into the U.S. and European markets through its recently established SK bioscience USA.