Updated on 4 May 2012
Dr Wilber Huang, winner of BioSpectrum Asia Pacific Bioscience Industry Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2012
The decoding of human genome created ripples in early 2000 and paved the way for new ventures around the world. These exciting developments in the biotechnology industry then prompted a young physician, Dr Wilber Huang, working at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, US, to move beyond the comfort zone of his stable job. While still working during the day, he spent his evenings in libraries or attending classes on business management. On weekends, he flew down to places across the US to visit biotech firms and imbibe entrepreneurial skills from their leaders.
Dr Wilber Huang is the man behind the success of Abnova, based in Taiwan and one of the largest antibody manufacturers of the world. BioSpectrum recognized Dr Huang's entrepreneurial skills with the BioSpectrum Asia Pacific Bioscience Industry Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2012.
It took him two years to set up Abnova in Taiwan. The mission was to become a leader in high-throughput antibody and protein production. Recalling the early days, Dr Huang says, "Mass spectrometry was a fashion then. I felt the way to proteomics would be to increase the number of monoclonal antibodies in the market. It was a good concept but I had to overcome many obstacles in the know-how, technologies, human resources, manufacturing, and financing in order to achieve this goal."
With the target of generating an antibody for every human-expressed gene in the human genome, Dr Huang adopted a unique approach of blending the business model of US biotech companies and the successful model of the IT industry of Taiwan. He says, "The goal was to increase the availability of antibody tools to facilitate research and discovery for biotech and pharmaceutical industries."
Building on a strong foundation, Dr Huang looked at not just one disease, diagnostic or therapeutic in the life sciences industry. Instead, he was interested in increasing the efficiency of the biotech and pharmaceutical industry which was hampered by the specificity of antibodies. "As such, I decided to generate monoclonal antibody in a high throughput fashion to achieve my goal. If I could increase the efficiency of the industry, then other researchers and physicians could use these tools to achieve their goals."
|Abnova intends to become
world's largest protein and
antibody catalog company
by building a full collection
of essential proteins and
their antibodies targeting
the human genome
|Start-up Year: 2001|
Abnova was able to make it through many uncertain and difficult times and when it went public in 2009, it brought a sense of invigoration to the biotech and investment community in Taiwan. "Over the years, we have been able to bring many antibody products to the market and benefit the researchers around the world at large," says Dr Huang.
Abnova went through nine rounds of financing before going public. For a manufacturing company producing in an industrial and high-throughput scale, it was very difficult. Finally at the eighth round of financing, the company got investment from the financial and venture capital community. "I had to rely on friends and families. In retrospect, I really appreciate the investors and shareholders who believed in me and got me through the tough times. Now they are rewarded, I feel very happy for them," says Dr Huang.