Building collaborative ecosystem to drive sustainable innovation

The International Business Leaders' Advisory Council for the Mayor of Shanghai celebrates a significant milestone in Shanghai becoming an international metropolis.

Building collaborative ecosystem to drive sustainable innovation

Dr. Severin Schwan, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Roche Group

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the International Business Leaders’ Advisory Council (IBLAC) for the Mayor of Shanghai, a significant milestone in recognizing the remarkable journey of Shanghai towards becoming a robust and resilient international metropolis.

Shanghai has been a major hub for innovation and has traditionally been the gateway to the West — a city with an open, global mindset. IBLAC plays an important role in these extraordinary achievements.

As a collaborative, future-focused forum, IBLAC is on a mission to leverage global wisdom in support of Shanghai’s pursuit of becoming a world-class metropolis. Over the years, it has successfully built an important platform where world business leaders and the Shanghai municipal government exchange ideas, enhance mutual understanding and promote partnerships.

For myself, I am honored to have embarked on the IBLAC journey since 2009 and to have personally experienced the energy and passion of this city which has ultimately led to the extraordinary development here. This has opened unprecedented opportunities for companies in China and abroad.

This year, we convene to engage in thoughtful discussions on how to discover new opportunities amid technological revolution and industrial change, delving into their implications for both governments and enterprises, as well as measures essential to ignite and sustain development. In this regard, I am delighted to work together with my IBLAC colleagues to help Shanghai explore new pathways based on openness and collaboration.

Innovation playing a key role in powering growth

Innovation has always been the main engine to economic growth and social prosperity. How to cultivate an ecosystem conducive to innovation that may power industrial transformation and high-quality growth has been a main target for China and remains certainly a key goal for Shanghai.

In the past decades, Shanghai has been making every effort to encourage innovation. Businesses now anticipate the local government to further support international companies to interact with domestic innovators by providing working space, financing and policy support. Shanghai has been incentivising the establishment of open innovation hubs to expedite innovation via stronger industry collaboration, yet with more efficient resources. Many members — including Roche — have taken bold actions in this area, which I believe will contribute enormously to Shanghai’s strategic goal of building a global innovation city.

Roche has kept a close bond with Shanghai for nearly 100 years, and has been continuously investing in the country over the past several decades. As one of the first multinational companies with a business presence in China, Roche has always devoted itself to fulfilling its long-term commitment to China and Chinese patients. Among large multinational pharmaceutical companies, Roche has taken the lead in building and continuously improving a complete value chain in China, spanning from early research, development, manufacturing to bringing pharmaceutical and diagnostic solutions to patients. And we expect more innovations to emerge and benefit patients in China and worldwide at the earliest possible time. We also continue to work with various partners to jointly build an innovative, collaborative, and diverse local healthcare ecosystem and contribute to the Healthy China 2030 initiative.

Along this exciting journey, we not only regard China as an important market but are also committed to working with China to become an international innovation hub for the life science industry. Nearly two decades ago, Roche established an R&D center in China — the first fully owned, foreign-funded R&D center in Shanghai and the first Roche R&D hub in an emerging market. Following recent upgrades, it has become the China Innovation Center of Roche (CICoR), an autonomous research and early development unit within the Roche Group. We also launched our first in-house incubator globally, Roche Accelerator in Zhangjiang, to empower local innovation in China.

Fostering a sustainable innovation-friendly environment

However, innovation needs to be effectively protected and rewarded appropriately. We must acknowledge the importance of an ecosystem that enables innovators to realize the full potential of their creativity, and the essential mechanisms that ensure sustainability of innovation. Specifically, strong IP protection and innovation-rewarding fair pricing mechanisms are the fundamentals to incentivise innovation.

As for Shanghai, establishing an innovation-friendly environment aligned with international standards is essential to its ambition. The city has always been China’s forefront for opening up and reform. Now with the increased legislative autonomy for Pudong, Shanghai can do even more to move closer to that goal.

My wish for the future is that Shanghai remains a place where East and West can meet, where we can openly exchange experiences, respectfully challenge each other, and learn from each other. Let us continue driving innovation together, for the benefit of the people in China and around the world.

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