Multinational companies bank on China's innovation landscape

Ding Yining
As China's innovation picks up, multinational companies are seeking new development formats and new models of partnership to ride the wave.
Ding Yining

Leading pharmaceutical companies are the forerunners to bank on China's energetic innovation landscape, and they see bright prospects for incubation platforms targeting life sciences and medical equipment.

AstraZeneca, which started the construction of the third phase of its iCampus innovation center to further elevate its local capability, is one of them.

A new batch of local startups joined the second phase of the iCampus life sciences incubator, such as oncology big data from LinkDoc Tehnology, AI medtech firm Synapsor, Shanghai Adfontes Biotechnology Co and Durbrain Medical Laboratory.

AstraZeneca China general manger Michael Lai said based on the customers' demands it's co-creating a series of metabolic disease management and solutions that are suitable for grassroots patients and physicians.

China could lead the global research development efforts in a number of disease areas, and it views bringing local innovations to overseas markets to be as important as introducing overseas innovations.

"We have high hopes to bring disease screening and treatment solutions originated in China to countries in the Belt and Road region," Lai said. "We also believe disease screening in grassroots medical institutions and at community level is a crucial element in expanding our partnership in lower tier cities and counties."

As China's innovation picks up, multinational companies are seeking new development formats and new models of partnership to ride the wave.

The promising demand for medical diagnosis devices and the trend of localization in the Chinese market have propelled new investment and partnerships.

In the first quarter, over 10,000 new foreign-funded enterprises were set up in China, a 25.5 percent jump from the same period a year ago, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Multinational companies need to be more agile and speed up localization efforts in the fast evolving market, and it's important to become a part of the local ecosystem, according to the latest study by the McKinsey Global Institute.

Those with large business size and big stakes here would stay committed to China, it noted.

Multinational companies bank on China's innovation landscape

Initiatives have been taken by multinational companies to seek local collaboration which could allow them to be better positioned to offer diagnosis and screening solutions for domestic patients.

Siemens Healthiness last week announced an additional investment of over 1 billion yuan (US$141 million) to expand its research and manufacturing site in China's tech hub of Shenzhen.

A part of its comprehensive local innovation ecosystem, the Shenzhen site would cover product ranges including magnetic resonance systems, angiography systems and medical electronic components.

Over two dozens startups took part in roadshows earlier this month at its Shanghai Innovation Center, which focused on medical imaging, in vitro diagnostics, interventional therapy, and cancer treatment. The Shanghai Innovation Center located in Zhangjiang Science City has gathered 150 startup enterprises and collaborators since its inauguration in September 2021 with around 30 ongoing partnerships.

Siemens Healthineers China's vice-president for Diagnostic Imaging Huang Yi explained local innovations, such as its 5G vehicle-mounted stroke treatment unit, have been crucial to support grassroots medical institutions. The company is also hosting a wide range of training courses with regional radiological societies and physicians' associations to offer tailor-made solutions.

Shanghai is encouraging open innovation projects jointly funded by foreign enterprises and local research institutions in the areas of advanced manufacturing, new materials and biomedicine.

The Shanghai Science and Technology Commission believes shared innovation initiatives could fully leverage existing resources and infrastructure so that high quality R&D results could be transformed and implemented in the city as soon as possible.

Special Reports