South Korean pharma invests $50 million in Axiom Space

by

Updated Dec. 23 to revise list of previous investors.

SEOUL, South Korea — Boryung, a South Korean pharmaceutical company, has decided to invest $50 million in U.S. commercial space station developer Axiom Space’s Series C funding round.

The Seoul-based company announced the decision in a Dec. 21 regulatory filing to the Financial Supervisory Service, calling the deal a “forward-looking investment” aimed at establishing a business footing in space.

Boryung will take a 2.28% stake in Axiom by Dec. 30 in exchange for the investment, according to the filing. This follows Boryung’s $10 million investment in Axiom, disclosed in a May 16 regulatory filing, which gave the Korean company a 0.4% stake in the space station developer.

“This strategic investment in Axiom will lay the foundation for finding diverse business opportunities in the private space industry,” Boryung said in a Dec. 21 statement. 

Lee Young-hyeok, a Boryung spokesperson, told SpaceNews the company has a “strong commitment to exploring space-based healthcare solutions.”

Amir Blachman’ Axiom’s chief investment officer, said Boryung’s investment is “part of a larger funding round” that the U.S. company “will close out toward the beginning of the new year.”

Axiom Space’s Series A investors included Hemisphere Ventures, The Venture Collective, Starbridge Venture Capital, Silicon Valley venture investors and super angels. The company raised $130 million in Series B funds in early 2021 from Declaration Partners, C5 Capital, Prime Movers Labs and others. The company has since received investments from Mitsui & Co., Neventa Capital, Washington University of St. Louis and prominent venture and family office investors.

Founded in 1957 as a mom-and-pop pharmacy in Seoul, Boryung is now a major healthcare company in South Korea offering a range of medical and healthcare products and services. It reported 627.3 billion won ($488 million) in sales in 2021, up 11.6% year-on-year, with operating profit up 3.7% to 41.4 billion won.

The Boryung spokesperson said its space-related projects are all initiated and managed by a task force, called the Global Investment Center, which is under the direct control of CEO Jay Kim. 

The chief executive had a closed one-on-one meeting May 17 with Axiom founder and CEO Kam Ghaffarian in Seoul.

Boryung, along with Axiom and Starburst Aerospace, hosted the “Care in Space Challenge” this year, a collaborative space startup incubation program that awards winning entrepreneurs and their companies an equity investment of $100,000, and admission into Starburst’s 13-week accelerator program to help bring their ideas to fruition.

Space News senior staff writer Jeff Foust contributed to this article from Washington.