Rani Jarkas: Cross-border innovation and investment in China’s life science industry

As China’s economy continues to surge and move up the product cycle, the country is on track to become a global leader in life sciences innovation and manufacturing. Foreign firms, which hold a 30 percent share of the local market, are rapidly expanding their biotech investments in China – in manufacturing, joint ventures, and R&D — yet they continue to face many challenges.

With the recently announced positive regulatory and compliance policy reforms, China’s life science industry is set to boom. Released in March 2016, China’s thirteenth Five-Year Plan reinforces the country’s focus on “innovative development” with additional emphasis on “biological technology.”

Besides domestic innovation, entrepreneurs in the field have also created cross-border business models, including investments in global clinical stage candidates and international collaborations for the best efficiency.

China continues to be a hotbed for partnering activity, more than doubling in 2015 to over US$4 billion in total announced deal value. Traditionally, Chinese partners tend to contribute heavily on infrastructure and other local resources performing a more “CRO-oriented” role. However, there has also been a rise in Chinese biotechs with truly innovative drug candidates that have attracted the attention of foreign pharms.

Cross-border partnership is developing a network across academics, business and clinicians to drive innovation in China’s healthcare industry. The ultimate objective is to improve treatments, diagnoses and quality of life for patients in China but will also lead to a huge number of business opportunities and will develop China’s capabilities as an innovation destination.

Rani Jarkas, Chairman of Cedrus Investments, an investment pioneer with years of experience in biotech and life science sector, said, “China’s pursuit of a domestic life science sector will benefit the Chinese people, local entrepreneurs, and multinationals who are hungry to identify solutions designed to reflect China’s unique healthcare challenges.”