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Startups

HealthQuest picks Korea’s Lunit for first investment in Asia

Lunit raises $60.5 mn in pre-IPO investment from HealthQuest, Casdin, BrightEdge, Tybourne Capital and NSG Ventures

By Nov 24, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Lunit Insight CXR Triage
Lunit Insight CXR Triage

HealthQuest Capital, a major US healthcare-focused venture growth fund, made its first investment in Asia along with other venture capitalists by purchasing shares in Lunit Inc., South Korea’s startup developing cancer detection solutions based on artificial intelligence (AI).

Lunit said on Nov. 23 that it raised 72 billion won ($60.5 million) in pre-IPO investment from HealthQuest, Casdin Capital, BrightEdge LLC in the US, Tybourne Capital Management in Hong Kong and NSG Ventures in Singapore. HealthQuest was the largest investor spending 24 billion won. In South Korea, Naver Corp. joined the funding as a strategic investor.

The startup drew an investment of 30 billion won four months ago from Guardant Health Inc., a leading precision oncology company.

“It was HealthQuest’s first investment in Asia,” Lunit’s CEO Suh Beom-seok told The Korea Economic Daily. “They chose Lunit even as there are so many promising bio venture companies in the US. That means our products are competitive enough.”

TO BOOST SUCCESS IN GLOBAL MARKETS

HealthQuest manages over $925 million of capital and is invested in a portfolio of companies diversified by healthcare sector and location with a focus on the US. The private asset firm has partnered with global pharmaceutical giants such as Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co. Inc. and Pfizer Inc.


Lunit CEO Suh Beom-seok
Lunit CEO Suh Beom-seok


“HealthQuest’s key limited partners (LPs) are major hospitals in the US,” Suh said. BrightEdge is the American Cancer Society's donor-funded, philanthropic venture capital fund.

The investors are expected to help Lunit thrive globally, especially in the US since they have strong networks in the world’s top healthcare market. It is essential to cooperate with major hospitals and insurers for the success of the startup’s lung disease and breast cancer diagnosis solutions.

Lunit, founded in 2014 by six members of a hip-hop club at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST), has been focusing on overseas markets since the company’s early stage.

It has 30 foreign employees among a total workforce of about 250, 16 of which are based outside Korea in countries such as the Netherlands, Norway, France and Brazil.

Write to Jae-young Han at jyhan@hankyung.com

Jongwoo Cheon edited this article.

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