Since its inception, Leadgene Biomedical has navigated the challenges typical of startups, such as limited resources. This scenario is common across industries, including technology and biotechnology. Startups often rely on their core competencies to gradually build a market presence.
Extensive Collaboration through Nanke Incubation Center
Founded in 2013 in Tainan, Leadgene Biomedical specializes in upstream biotech raw materials, primarily antibodies and recombinant proteins. In its early days, the company leveraged The SME Incubator at Tainan Science Park, part of Small and Medium Enterprise and Startup Administration Ministry of Economic Affairs, to establish a foothold in Nanke. Initially, the market was unfamiliar territory.
CEO Louis Yu-Wei Cheng recalls the strategic planning that led to successful exhibitions and media exposure, facilitated by the The SME Incubator center's guidance. Early interactions with various startups sparked diverse collaborations.
However, Louis admits that initial development was constrained by resource limitations, despite partnerships with other startups, SMEs, and channel operators. Over time, resource accumulation and foundational stability, particularly in downstream channel collaborations with research units and academics, have shaped the company's growth. Today, Leadgene Biomedical offers a range of products in molecular biology, cell biology, immunology, and IVD biological materials.
The company also provides comprehensive CRDMO (Contract Research Development Manufacturing) services, including recombinant protein and antibody development, and professional in vitro testing immunization platform development.
Challenges and Rewards at Different Stages in International Market Focus
Louis acknowledges varying challenges at different stages, from initial production limitations to later-stage issues like R&D integration, production, sales channels, and regulatory compliance. However, collaborations with SMEs have been beneficial, particularly in solving production equipment challenges.
"Adopting an open approach to collaboration is crucial, especially given the small domestic market. We aim to jointly venture into international markets," Louis emphasizes.
Looking ahead, Leadgene Biomedical plans to build a new plant in Tainan by 2025, expanding its reagent production capacity in partnership with Cytena BPS. This collaboration, focusing on mass production cell line development, is pivotal for the company's future.
In addition to equipment partnerships, Leadgene Biomedical is also keen on developing detection reagents and is open to collaborations in this area.
Having completed its designated incubation period at The SME Incubator at Tainan Science Park in 2018, Leadgene Biomedical has since transitioned to independent operations and is now listed on the Taipei Exchange’s Go Incubation Board for Startup and Acceleration Firms (GISA). The company has benefited from various government and PwC Taiwan resources and activities.
Embracing AI and Digital Transformation
Regarding AI and digital transformation, Louis notes that while the company's current scale doesn't necessitate these technologies, they are considered for future operational enhancements, starting with production automation and internal processes. Although AI applications in biotechnology are still maturing, Leadgene Biomedical sees potential in AI for project management and other areas, planning a gradual introduction to enhance operations.
Louis highlights recent advancements in AI within biotechnology, such as in protein sequence modification. Tasks that once depended on manual labor are increasingly being automated through AI. However, he notes that AI is still in its nascent stages within the biotech industry and its full potential remains to be realized. Despite this, Louis is optimistic about the synergy between Leadgene Biomedical's expertise and AI, particularly in project management, which he believes will significantly aid the company.
Over the past decade, Leadgene Biomedical's growth trajectory illustrates the vital role of government and external resources in supporting startups, especially in their expansion phases. In response to the evolving landscape of AI and digital transformation, Leadgene Biomedical is actively monitoring these technologies, planning to incorporate them at the right moment to bolster the company's future growth.