Press release

11 Jun 2021 Singapore, SG

JungJin SEO from South Korea named EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2021

JungJin Seo, Honorary Chairman of South Korea-based Celltrion Group, was named EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2021 during a virtual awards ceremony broadcast live around the world.

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Related topics Entrepreneurship Growth
  • EY also honors His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales of the United Kingdom with inaugural Social Entrepreneurship Award

JungJin Seo, Honorary Chairman of South Korea-based Celltrion Group, was this evening named EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2021 during a virtual awards ceremony broadcast live around the world. JungJin was picked from among 45 award winners from 38 countries and territories competing for the global award. He is the first winner from South Korea in the award’s 21-year history.

JungJin, 63, founded Celltrion, a biopharmaceutical firm, in 2003 with only US$45,000. In the nearly 20 years since its founding, Celltrion has lived up to its ambition to advance health and welfare for all by developing groundbreaking drugs to treat autoimmune diseases, different forms of cancer and, most recently, COVID-19. The company, which JungJin started with five of his colleagues, has grown to more than 2,100 employees with sales permits in more than 90 countries and revenues exceeding US$1.69b.

His Royal Highness (HRH) The Prince of Wales first recipient of the EY Social Entrepreneurship Award

This evening, EY also honored HRH The Prince of Wales, of the United Kingdom, with an inaugural EY Social Entrepreneurship Award. This award was given in recognition of the tremendous social value created by The Prince of Wales’ leading initiatives, including The Prince’s Trust and Business in the Community, the exciting progress of the bold, global Sustainable Markets Initiative and this year’s unveiling of the Terra Carta, which provides a road map toward putting nature, people and planet at the heart of global value creation over the next decade. The new award will remain an annual feature and was established to recognize leaders who are focused on creating a purposeful business in society.

Carmine Di Sibio, EY Global Chairman and CEO, says:

“After a year of incredible challenges, I’m excited to be able to recognize these two remarkable individuals for their contributions to society. Throughout his life, His Royal Highness has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to building a better world and I couldn’t envision a more worthy honoree for the inaugural EY Social Entrepreneurship Award.

“Likewise, JungJin Seo has spent his career representing everything an unstoppable entrepreneur should be. From taking on the world’s biggest health care challenges to consistently creating long-term value for his company, JungJin is a model EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year winner. Congratulations to both on their worthy distinctions.”

Rosaleen Blair CBE, Founder and Chair of AMS, and Chair of the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year judging panel, says:

“The judging panel is honored to award JungJin with this prestigious title and recognize him following one of the most trying years the world has ever seen. The panel was moved by his incredible journey and his purpose-driven leadership, innovative mindset and entrepreneurial spirit are the embodiment of an unstoppable entrepreneur.”

JungJin Seo, Honorary Chairman, Celltrion Group, says:

“Entrepreneurship to me has always been about bringing together a group of people toward a common vision, embracing challenges as opportunities and committing oneself to contribute to the greater good. When I first started, my vision was to help patients gain access to safe, effective and affordable medicines and thereby enhance the quality of people’s lives. The success of Celltrion has enabled me to expand on this while finding new ways to fuel my entrepreneurial drive. I am humbled and honored to join the prestigious group of EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year winners who came before me and I intend to use this wonderful platform to continue to make this world a better place for future generations.”

Stasia Mitchell, EY Global Entrepreneurship Leader, says:

“JungJin’s story is one of incredible tenacity and perseverance. He’s taken breathtaking risks, both personal and professional, to found Celltrion and grow it into one of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies. His passion for creating affordable, life-saving health care and flair for tackling global problems has led to many treatments that have helped millions of people worldwide and was especially evident this past year through the creation of a COVID-19 antibody treatment. Above all, JungJin’s story is a shining example of the power of an unstoppable entrepreneur to change the world.”

About JungJin Seo, Honorary Chairman of Celltrion Group

JungJin’s entrepreneurial journey started at an early age when he worked as a taxi driver to get himself through Konkuk University in Seoul, South Korea. After studying industrial engineering, he rose through the ranks of Daewoo Motor Co. until he suddenly lost his job amid the automaker’s financial troubles following the 1997 Asian economic crisis.

In the years that followed, JungJin would collaborate with colleagues to explore business opportunities in numerous industries, many of which seemed promising at the time but failed to deliver lasting success. Finally, after attending a discussion hosted by several renowned scholars, he decided to focus on the biopharmaceutical sector, believing that it had the potential to be the next great growth engine.

With this inspiration in mind, he founded Celltrion with only US$45,000. Despite its humble beginnings, the company would quickly become a leading force in the South Korean pharmaceutical industry. The launch of Remsima, the “world’s first” antibody biosimilar, quickly moved Celltrion up the ranks of the country’s relatively underdeveloped pharmaceutical sector. Celltrion followed this success with the launch of drugs for breast cancer and lymphoma that are now used worldwide.

With a focus on being “the world’s first,” Celltrion has pioneered numerous uncharted areas to stellar success over the past two decades. Most recently, it responded to the global pandemic by successfully developing an antibody treatment for COVID-19 and works to ensure a timely supply of the safe and effective treatment.

About the judging panel

The independent judging panel was chaired by Rosaleen Blair CBE, Founder and Chair of AMS. Joining her were:

  • Girish Jhunjhnuwala, Founder and CEO, Ovolo Hotels
  • Susan Chong, Founder and CEO, Greenpac Pte Ltd.
  • Hernan Kazah, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Kaszek Ventures
  • Noëlla Coursaris Musunka, Founder and CEO, Malaika
  • Alexey Repik, Founder and Chairman, R-Pharm
  • Dr. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Executive Chairperson, Biocon Limited
  • Brad Keywell, CEO, Uptake Technologies, Inc.

Broadcast coverage and high-resolution content are available here for download for broadcast and online use.

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About EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ is the world’s most prestigious business awards program for unstoppable entrepreneurs. These visionary leaders deliver innovation, growth and prosperity that transform our world. The program engages entrepreneurs with insights and experiences that foster growth. It connects them with their peers to strengthen entrepreneurship around the world. EY Entrepreneur Of The Year is the first and only truly global awards program of its kind. It celebrates entrepreneurs through regional and national awards programs in more than 145 cities in over 60 countries. Winners go on to compete for the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ title.