South Korean businessman JungJin Seo, founder and honorary chairman of Celltrion Group was named EY World Entrepreneur of the Year for 2021 at a virtual ceremony on Thursday evening.
Mr Seo beat off competition from entrepreneurs representing 38 countries, including Irish finalist, Nicola Mitchell of agrochemicals company Life Scientific. Ms Mitchell was named Irish EY Entrepreneur of the Year in November last year. Life Scientific makes generic versions of major branded agricultural pesticides and generates more than €60 million in annual revenue.
Mr Seo founded his biopharmaceutical company in 2003, having lost his job at a carmaker at the age of 45. He knew little about science at the time, but was inspired after hearing a scientist talking about the future of medicine. Celltrion is today a multibillion-dollar global company, developing drugs to treat conditions including cancer and Covid-19.
The group specialises in biosimilars – affordable biologic products similar to already approved biological drugs. The company’s first biosimilar drug was for the treatment of autoimmune diseases, with this followed by drugs for breast cancer and lymphoma that are now used globally.
Celltrion provides its antibody treatment for Covid-19 to patients in South Korea at production cost.
An earlier version of this article stated Life Scientific generates more than €600 million in annual revenue. This has been corrected