Jeong Hun Seo, CEO, General Bio
Jeong Hun Seo, CEOIn the recent past, the health and nutrition realm has come under the spotlight to enhance the overall quality of life. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated this focus on health and brought forth a proactive approach to preventing diseases. This drive toward a healthy lifestyle has largely fueled the consumption of various dietary supplements, immunity-boosting products, and more to increase the lifespan of humans and foster healthy aging. The awareness toward enhanced health and longer life expectancy has fueled interest in the biotech industry. Regarded as the ‘industry of the future,’ biotech bears the torch for developing innovative and affordable products that foster good health for all.

Ahead of the march and with the goal of “well-aging” for a happy life, General Bio focuses on developing health functional food and cosmetics to maintain health and beauty. The company leads the research and development of bio-convergence, nano-technology, polymer technology, and new bio-materials. “With our technological prowess, we are currently researching, developing, and producing a variety of products in cosmetics, dietary supplement, and household essentials,” says Jeong Hun Seo, CEO, General Bio. The company develops technology for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), nicotinamide riboside (NR), and nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), USHERING IN AN ERA OF HEALTH AND WELL AGING COVER STORY GENERAL BIOexpanding the development of raw materials such as Ginseng Saponins CK∙CY, plant stem cells, mushroom mycelium cultures, extraction, and research on product formulation and stabilization.

The genesis of this innovative company stems from an emotional backstory. Beginning his career as an engineer at a major corporation in South Korea, Seo worked 100-hour weeks and was known as a ‘workaholic.’ Focused entirely on his work, he had no idea that his young son had started to develop asthma. Watching his son wheeze painfully, Seo chose to move to a cleaner location and was inspired to create biotech products that are safe to use for diseases like asthma and laid the cornerstone of General Bio.

Since its inception in 2007, General Bio has complied with social and environmental responsibilities to address problems caused by hazardous chemical products and upheld corporate ethics to preserve local ecosystems. The company is developing eco-friendly raw materials and sustainable products. General Bio only uses safe raw materials that have been registered with WHO and the EPA to perform extractions on a variety of natural materials, evaluate their functional properties, and manufacture products. The company uses raw materials/ ingredients that are rated 0-2 by EWG, which indicates low toxicity for cosmetics. All of General Bio’s cosmetic products undergo a clinical test by DermaTest, a German dermatological research institute, to confirm its products are non-irritating for the skin.

Innovations for a Healthy Life

Driven by the goal of developing innovative products beneficial to humankind, General Bio’s focus on the research of new technologies and materials is unmatched in the industry.

General Bio: Ushering in an Era of Health and Well Aging

An example is the company’s bioconversion technology that helps in the absorption of ginsenosides found in ginseng, a precious herb found in Asia with various health benefits.Typically, ginsenosides are broken down by intestinal bacteria into minor ginsenosides ‘Compound K’ and ‘Compound Y,’ which can be absorbed by the body.
Compound K supports the immune system, cognitive health, cardiovascular health, liver health, anti-aging/ skin health, and is also anticancerous, anti-diabetic, and anti-inflammatory. However, the absorption rate is generally only one to five percent, and it has been found that every one in four South Koreans is unable to break down ginsenosides into Compound K and absorb it.

To help solve this problem, General Bio sought to create a new biomaterial with a high content of Compound K by applying a special kind of technology. By using select enzymes, General Bio is able to maximize the production of Compound K by strengthening the minor ginsenosides found in ginseng. Through this Multienzymatic Bioconversion Technology (MEBT), which is General Bio’s core technology, saponins of high molecular weight can be converted into Compound K which helps increase the absorption rate. Further, the company’s Melt Concentrate (MC) technology maximizes the bioavailability and efficiency of these ginsenosides. Through careful selection of enzymes, proper enzyme treatment (optimal ratio of enzymes to ginseng), and optimization of fermentation temperature, pH, time, and RPM conditions, General Bio produces the highest quality Compound K in South Korea.

With sustainability at its core, General Bio has several patents related to new technologies and new biomaterials such as plant stem cells, bio convergence, and functional natural raw materials. These technologies, coupled with exceptional manufacturing and quality control standards for cosmetics and dietary supplements (CGMP/GMP certified facilities), has given the company a competitive edge to independently source and produce raw materials, develop product formulations, and ultimately the final product. In the 15th year since its founding, General Bio has grown into a company thatcan develop its functional ingredients and produce ecofriendly products. General Bio also collaborates with the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, also known as the “Mecca of biotechnology” within South Korea; the Korea Institute of Toxicology; and top universities on R&D projects to expand on the best new technologies.

Emerging as a Global Social Enterprise

What differentiates General Bio from its peers is its “onestop” system through which its products are distributed by its subsidiary, GCOOP, a multilevel marketing company.By manufacturing the products in-house and building a network of distributors through GCOOP, General Bio has gone above and beyond creating social value and is now sharing it with consumers all over the world.
Through the one-stop method, the company ensures a stable supply and reasonable prices for its products. To establish a business model that can help the underprivileged, General Bio has formed a community of ‘GCOOPERS’ with the goal to create a cycle of winwin growth and empower the underprivileged by making them financially independent. Together with GCOOPERS, the company strives to make the world a better place. General Bio also provides consulting for social enterprises to promote sustainable social value creation by supporting and nurturing projects for young social enterprises. Furthermore, the company participates in innovative projects for manufacturing-oriented social enterprises to help improve the processes, working environment, quality assurance standards, and marketing of small social enterprises. “By incubating these young companies, General Bio is treading on the path to create a positive influence and cultivate a healthy corporate culture,” says Seo.

General Bio is helping many social enterprises improve their production processes through R&D. Nuya House and Donggubat are social enterprises that provide jobs through vocational training for people with disabilities and contribute to employment opportunities for the underprivileged by producing cosmetics and soaps. General Bio provided these two companies with raw materials and manufacturing technology to produce sulfur soap, in house. The soap produced was sold through GCOOP, and the proceeds from the sales were donated back to Nuya House and Donggubat to help fund them in employing candidates with disabilities and promoting their welfare.

By incubating these young companies, General Bio is treading on the path to create a positive influence and cultivate a healthy corporate culture

With the goal to achieve sustainable growth through inclusiveness, General Bio is all set to expand into China and Malaysia in the next 12 months. In fact, General Bio is planning to launch in 70 countries by 2040 and create social value on a global scale. The company will continue to grow and expand to facilitate the future generations of social entrepreneurs to work with its business platform to achieve commendable results. Alongside the growth into a global social enterprise, General Bio aims to finalize Telomere-related technologies and supply products that can support immune health, cognitive health, and aging. “In this era of ‘well-aging,’ we hope to launch our Telomere supplements and cosmetics to help enhance the quality of life of everyday consumers,” concludes Seo.