The Whiting School of Engineering logo in white against a blue background.

Johns Hopkins University (JHU) has been chosen by South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy (MOTIE) to lead a Global Industrial Technology Cooperation Center (GITCC). The new JHU Biotechnology Cooperation Center will be directed by Deok-Ho Kim, a professor of biomedical engineering.

The new center is poised to become a leading hub for joint R&D collaboration with Korea in pharmaceuticals, medical devices, biomaterials, biomanufacturing, and AI/digital healthcare. Leveraging the expertise of JHU researchers across these key sectors, the center aims to enhance the development of innovative biotechnology solutions. This cooperation will not only accelerate drug discovery and precision medicine, but also integrate cutting-edge data science and AI techniques for healthcare, further strengthening JHU’s global leadership in biotechnology research and development.

According to Kim, the initiative has already attracted significant interest from Korean companies, highlighting a strong demand for collaborative research and technology exchange.

“We are thrilled to engage in this new collaboration with international partners to promote translational research and work together to pioneer new technologies and solutions. This new initiative will significantly enhance our research capabilities and affirm JHU’s leadership in advancing global healthcare and innovation,” said Kim.

The announcement was made on April 5, 2024, at the “Global Open Innovation Strategy Conference” chaired by Minister Dukgeun Ahn. Funded by grants from The Korea Institute for Advancement Technology (KIAT) and led by some of the world’s top research institutions, the new centers will serve as hubs for promoting joint R&D projects focused on cutting-edge core technologies, the ministry said. The research at the Global Cooperation Centers will primarily focus on semiconductors, batteries, biotechnology, robots, artificial intelligence, and other research fields.

“The JHU-Korea Global Biotechnology Cooperation Center marks a transformative step in our mission to drive global innovation and collaboration. We anticipate significant advancements in healthcare and technology from this strategic partnership with South Korea,” said Denis Wirtz, vice provost for research at Johns Hopkins.

Other institutions selected to lead cooperation centers include MIT, Yale University, Purdue University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute.

Johns Hopkins was selected as a designated partner for its expertise in new drug development and healthcare within the biotech sector. “Our team will take advantage of the thriving biotechnology network already here at Johns Hopkins, which includes the Center for Microphysiological Systems, state-of-the-art medical devices, biomanufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and digital healthcare technology, to name a few,” said Kim.

The Hopkins team will receive approximately $1.8 million for center operation initially. Through this initiative, Hopkins investigators will have the opportunity to obtain joint R&D projects with Korean biotechnology companies. Such a collaboration between leading academics and Korean industry partners will catalyze the commercialization of impactful biotechnology products, advancing healthcare outcomes globally.

“The Whiting School of Engineering is most pleased to partner on this international effort as we seek to enhance and expand our efforts in creating a better future for everybody around the world,” says Ed Schlesinger, dean of the Whiting School of Engineering.

Overall, South Korea plans to invest 684 billion won ($505 million) in the six global technology cooperation centers over the next five years. They plan to launch around 45 joint global projects this year alone, with the goal of securing 100 next-generation technologies by 2028.