[Hankook daily report] “In the first place, we don’t care about domestic market” Filler flagship bio venture goes to China
Chung Hyun-Kyu Bioplus CEO Interview
– “we have a Big dream of beauty and plastic surgery business fully supported by the Chinese government in Hainan province”
– China sends down the bureau in charge of absolute assistance and fully supports special economic and medical zones.
Chung Hyun-kyu (left), chairman of Bioplus, which produces filler products that are spotlighted as essential materials in beauty and plastic surgery, is talking with Cho Jae-woo, a senior reporter at the Industry department. Bae Woo-Han Reporter
Despite the cold wind in the Korean manufacturing industry, small venture companies with the world’s best technology are making brilliant achievements on the global stage. Many Korean small and medium-sized companies rise against many hardships and run day and night to prove the excellence of their products, creating new myths.
Bioplus, a venture company that produces filler, which is widely seen as a necessary material in beauty and plastic surgery, is also gaining recognition for its best technology in medical raw materials and solidifying its position as a small and medium-sized company. With its ambition to become a medical bio-conductor who dreams of “upgrading the Beautifulness of the world.” with its own technology, Bioplus has already exported its products to more than 60 countries and has seen a sharp rise in sales, starting with the production of brand for its first product, Skinplus-Hyal.
“The world is wide and there are many places to go.” They are full of confidence. The second plant in Sungnam, Gyeonggi Province, is equipped with more demanding facilities than the semiconductor plant. It is important for semiconductors to deal with fine dust, but in factories here, they need to catch not only fine dust but also germs. The best development personnel endured more than 15 years of hardship, and the products started to be recognized by the market just four years ago. “I’ve been skipping meals a lot, and I think work stress is my life partner.” said Chung Hyun-kyu, 62, chairman of Bioplus, recently in his office.
-What are the main products?
“We produce products with a raw material called hyaluronic acid (HA) which is polysaccharide. This material is used to make products using cross-linking technology. The most difficult product among them is filler. There are also seven to eight products that are being researched and developed, including anti-adhesive agent that prevents adhesion between organs and parts of surgery after surgery, joint tissue repellent, and bladder tissue repellent.”
-What do you usually use the filler for?
“Fillers are literally supplements. It supplements the skin or other wounds on the face when they are submerged. HA is biocompatible because it is a substance in our body. They can be put into the skin thinly or in a nose job. It has been actively used in beauty care such as nasolabial folds. These days, people use fillers without breast implants. In case of breasts, it fails without the highest quality filler. Otherwise, it will cause side effects. The same goes for buttocks. And in Europe, it is also used in obstetrics and gynecology.”
-How do gynecologists use it?
“it is used to assist the contraction of the vagina. Men also use it to enlarge their genitals. It is also used when the back of the hand is tanned by ultraviolet light. It also has whitening and sterilizing effects. The HA that goes into the filler absorbs 3,000 times more moisture. You can make it moist and firm.”
-What is the difference between existing products and HA products?
“The HA-made filler makes up 99 percent of the world’s major stocks. The filler also depends on how you make it. It is made by combining bridges called cross-linking. First of all, the difference is that we use a bridge called DVS (Divinyl Sulfone). This material itself is very sensitive and difficult to handle. On top of that, the molecule is short and the molecular weight is low. It’s very sensitive, but the bridge works very well. Many companies have tried DVS, but most have failed. Only four places in the world have succeeded. We have incorporated three unique technologies here. The technology that was first applied is not just bridging HA, but making it into a micro bead (a small bead invisible to the eye). We do it three times, not once. No one can make it like our product. So we’ve been working on naming our technology itself and we’re going to put our technology on the list all over the world.”
-What’s the difference between filler and Botox?
Botox and filler are complementary goods and at the same time competing products. Botox is also widely used in beauty markets now. So filler is used for botox or vice versa. Botox is not a filling material. It is all about getting rid of wrinkles. Botox is injected into the protruding chin or square jaw to paralyze the muscle itself. Then it degenerates. So it makes it slim. Botox has two roles. In case of wrinkles on the skin, put a little poison. Botox is poison. If you put it in, your skin will stretch out. Then the wrinkles are gone. If you paralyze it again, it will degenerate and the area becomes thinner because it can’t use the muscles. It is also used in calves a lot. But Botox has its drawbacks. Botox is resistant if you keep using it. Also, the retention period is short. Therefore, the Botox market is stagnant and the filler market is growing. ”
-Is Botox a medicine and filler a medical device?
“Yes. The filler is a medical device, so there is a grade, and our product is the highest grade, Grade IV medical device. It goes into our bodies and lasts for years. Therefore, it is the highest grade. It’s actually about the same level as medicine.”
Bioplus Chairman Chung Hyun-kyu is talking about the motive why he started a bio venture company and his products. Bae Woo-Han Reporter
-Can it be used against skin aging?
“It is usually used for it. It also prevents aging partly. As soon as you inject the filler, it attracts moisture or something like this. Then it becomes a little tight and moist. As a result, the nutrients from the veins are well supplied. In that sense, it’s anti-aging.”
-It must be somewhat helpful for the elderly, too.
“It’s not just helpful. The filler treatment among senior is increasing these days. The age group went up from teenagers and 20s to those in their 60s and 70s.”
-What’s the market situation like?
“In the first place, the domestic market was not a target. we exported to Japan first. It then went to more than 60 countries around the world, including Europe, Southeast Asia, the United States and Latin America. The domestic market itself is very competitive. It is also not recognized well in Korea by its quality or capacity. Since korea tends to be swayed by advertising or conglomerate frames, we have let domestic market find us reversely through exports. Regarding Filler, Consumer is the doctor. The patient does not choose the filler, but the doctor chooses the filler. However, we don’t sell them directly to doctors.”
-Maybe China is the biggest market anyway?
“We are exporting to China through other trading companies because there is no import permit yet. China is 50 percent of the global market. we can also sell at a high price. There is a large population with a high income level. However, it costs a lot of money to get an import permit. In the meantime, my Chinese partner recommended me a Hainan Island. Hainan Island is very much supported by the central government of China. It is a special economic zone, a special tourist zone, and a special medical zone. I had a new adventure in China. Hainan Island hosted hospitals with advanced medical technology. Unauthorized medicines are also available at the hospital. I heard there are large hospitals and they plan to increase the number of them to 150 in the future. It means that a few million floor spaces of land become a medical complex. Ultimately, it is medical tourism. The plan is to build the largest complex in the world with the aim of taking a rest, receiving treatment and undergoing surgery. As a result, imports of medicines have become unregulated. Even the FDA’s licensing bureau came down from the central government to speed up the import permit. It gave the authority to complete permits here without imposing sanctions from the central government. That’s why we’ve made inroads and we’re planning to build a large hospital there. We’re trying to build the world’s largest hospital for beauty and plastic surgery.”
-Isn’t your dream too big in terms of the size of the company now?
“Not at all. We are building a factory in Hainan Island with Chinese government support. The decision has already been made and the company is also under the process of establishment. They sold about 20 billion won worth of land to 1.7 billion won. The Chinese government said they must accept our technology even in the land of the bonded area. We’ll build a hospital in the bonded area. It’s the form of a joint venture, so we only need to invest half of total.”
Bioplus employees are checking the product production process at Sungnam plant. Bae Woo-Han Reporter
-It’s a high-priced product, so I don’t know if it has price competitiveness.
“Our products cost more and take more time to make. It doesn’t make sense to sell at a low price when the quality is good. I starved a lot at first. I was hungry. our product wasn’t popular because of high price. But I kept holding it in. I didn’t even take my salary. We continued to invest money. After a few years, our product started to be recognized little by little. It was expensive, but the quality was so good. Now the situation has changed. There are a lot of buyers who just want to buy it, no matter how expensive it is.”
▲ Bioplus hyaluronic acid filler product group.
Bioplus has produced filler by applying ‘DVS’ bridging technology that is difficult to implement without securing capabilities related to biomaterial handling technology.
As it is recognized as a high-end filler, it is evaluated that it has joined the ranks of luxury filler in terms of price and quality.
In order to utilize the advanced and differentiated strategy, Bioplus participated in global companies such as the Monaco AMWC, Dubai ARAB Health, and Moscow Intercharm to promote their products.
An official from Bioplus said, “We started to have ordering from major foreign countries such as the UK, Spain, Greece, Turkey, and Japan.” adding, “Our sales continued to grow since 2015 until this year.”
Bioplus researchers are conducting research on its products at Sungnam Research Institute. Bae Woo-Han Reporter.
-What’s your future goal?
“When I started this company, I had a goal of “2020.” It aims to take up to 20 percent of the global market in 2020, making it the world’s No. 1 player. It was delayed in the course of clinic and licensing. By 2025, the company aims to become the world’s No. 1 with sales of 300 billion won, and I think it will be feasible. Next year, we will be the number one domestic company.”
-Does our government help in anyway?
“I don’t want it at all. It doesn’t even seem that our government understand the concept of technology. Institutional investors and securities firms also care more about sales than technology. They neglect the technology that can actually make money instead, they consider genetic modification of the bio which is transient as technology. That’s why there’s nothing to be supported.”
Cho Jae-woo, senior reporter of Industry department firstname.lastname@example.org