GlycoNet-affiliated startup wins invitation to Government of South Korea’s K-Startup Grand Challenge

Edmonton-based biotech 48Hour Discovery is invited to travel to Pangyo Technoo Valley, the Korean version of the Silicon Valley, to expand their technology into the Asian market

EDMONTON, ALBERTA (August 13, 2020) – A biotechnology startup partner of GlycoNet is celebrating recognition in a global investing event. 48Hour Discovery Inc., which focuses on developing peptide-based therapeutic drugs for debilitating diseases, won an invitation to the K-Startup Grant Challenge, an accelerator program backed by the Korean government for promising global startups to assist Korea’s evolution into a prominent business hub. “This recognition has put us in front of international investors and collaborators, showcasing the potential of Canada-made technology,” says founder and Chief Executive Officer Ratmir Derda, who is also a GlycoNet Investigator and Associate Professor at the University of Alberta.

“This year, we had one of the highest records of competitors,” says Kurt Koo, Managing Partner of Edmonton Venture Partners and BigBang Angels, two of the main organizers of the K-Startup Grand Challenge. “In Korea, where there is no oil and gas, the most popular area for venture capital investment is life science. As one of the selected companies for the Challenge, 48Hour Discovery has a great opportunity to expand its presence in the Korean market as well as in Asia. There have already been constant inquiries from investors and pharmaceutical companies.” 

Out of the 2,648 competitors in healthcare, artificial intelligence, and Deep Tech, 48Hour Discovery is one amongst the 60 teams selected to participate the Grand Challenge Program. The company is based on technology invented by Derda at the University of Alberta and the company has partnered with GlycoNet since its launch. 48Hour Discovery has developed a proprietary technology platform that can find peptide-based drug candidates from a pool of billions of molecules in just a few days, and at a far lower cost than conventional technologies.

“GlycoNet is extremely pleased to see 48Hour Discovery winning a position to participate in the K-Startup Grand Challenge Program,” says Dr. Todd Lowary, Scientific Director at GlycoNet. “Supporting entrepreneurship and spurring job creation in Canada is part of GlycoNet’s core mission, and we are proud that 48Hour Discovery is selected to demonstrate a technology developed from Canada to a global audience.”

The invitation comes just months after 48Hour Discovery announced the launch of its COVID-19 research program, aiming to identify drug candidates for use as antiviral treatments for those infected with COVID-19. Winning a position in the K-Startup Grand Challenge means that the company can expand its business development and fundraising activities to the Asian market. As part of the program, the company will attend a three-month, all-expenses-paid, accelerator program in South Korea’s Pangyo Techno Valley—the Korean version of the Silicon Valley—to explore business opportunities with Korean-listed companies such as Samsung and LG, as well as meeting with global investors in the healthcare and technology sectors.

“We are very excited,” says David Alton, VP Business Development and Finance at 48Hour Discovery. “Amidst the pandemic, there is a myriad of growing sectors in South Korea. This invitation to travel and meet investors in South Korea is a tremendous opportunity for us to expand our market and find partners in Asia.”

About 48Hour Discovery Inc.
48Hour Discovery Inc. is a University of Alberta biotechnology spin-off company that develops peptide-based therapeutic drugs from billion-scale libraries of molecules. It uses phage display and high throughput next generation sequencing (NGS) to identify peptide ligands with high affinity for promising drug targets. Founded in 2017, 48Hour Discovery Inc. has a number of peptide discovery projects underway, including partnerships with five of the top pharmaceutical companies in the world. For more information, visit

About K-Startup Grand Challenge
The K-Startup Grand Challenge is a technology startup accelerator program for foreign startups backed by the South Korean government that hosts teams in Korea for a three-month program with multiple funding opportunities. This program is a part of the Government of South Korea’s plan to support entrepreneurs and startups in the country to enhance and grow South Korea’s Pangyo Techno Valley into a global tech hub for Asia. For more information, visit

About GlycoNet
GlycoNet is advancing research, innovation, and training in glycomics—the study of carbohydrates in the biological systems—to improve the quality of life of Canadians. GlycoNet is a one-stop global destination focused on developing new carbohydrate-based drugs, vaccines and diagnostics, in collaboration with academic and industry organizations to address areas of unmet need through applied glycomics research. Funded by the federal Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program and a range of partners, the network includes over 150 researchers across Canada who focus on cancer, chronic diseases, infectious diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases. This national platform supports translational research, protection of intellectual property, novel drug development, company formation and training.


David Alton
VP Finance and Business Development
48Hour Discovery Inc.

Kurt Koo
Managing Partner
Edmonton Venture Partners

Ali Chou
Communications Associate

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