City announces policies to boost biopharma

Ding Yining
Shanghai's measures to boost development of the biopharmaceutical industry are part of the city's 14th Five-Year Plan and its aim to have a sector worth 180 billion yuan by 2023.
Ding Yining
City announces policies to boost biopharma
Ding Yining / SHINE

Shanghai officials announce plans to boost the biopharmaceutical industry.


Shanghai, which aims to have a 180 billion yuan (US$27.7 billion) biopharmaceutical manufacturing industry by 2023, has issued a series of policies on innovative drugs, high-end devices, advanced facilities and materials as well as service outsourcing.

The measures to boost development of the biopharma industry are part of the city’s 14th Five-Year Plan to lay the foundations for its technology innovation center ambitions, according to a regulation released by the Shanghai Development and Reform Commission, Shanghai Economic and Informatization Commission, Shanghai Science Commission, Shanghai Health Commission and Shanghai Medical Products Administration.

Hua Yuan, director of the development and reform commission, said the sector remains crucial for Shanghai with the total industry size reaching 140 billion yuan last year.

The Zhangjiang area in the Pudong New Area is set to serve as a core area for development, and the scheme includes five other district-level subcenters in Lingang, Fengxian, Jinshan, Baoshan and Hongqiao.

"Shanghai will implement the new rules in order to further improve current drawbacks including the lack of smooth integration between pharmaceutical research, commercial operations and an innovative ecosystem," Hua said at a press briefing on Friday. 

The new plans aims to build an all-round policy system encompassing research, clinical studies, manufacturing and commercial applications, Hua said.

They will also optimize the bio industry park layout, lab facilities and clinical research resources to suit businesses of different formats and sizes so each can find an appropriate location to grow and prosper.

Shanghai will also strive to link research institutions, corporate funds, and lab and manufacturing sites to expedite the transformation of research results into commercial applications, said Liu Ping, deputy director of the Shanghai Economic and Informatization Commission. 

Specific financial services will be available for those engaged in early-stage drug research and supply chain service providers targeting small and medium companies. 

Multinationals are already moving to Shanghai with not only production capability, but also start-up incubators and collaboration platforms that link established firms and those in early development stages.

US DNA sequencing company Illumina has partnered with Sequoia Capital China and it launched its genomics accelerator in Shanghai earlier this year, the third outside San Francisco and Cambridge.

It aims to provide selected startups with access to investment and business guidance from Sequoia Capital China as well as access to Illumina's sequencing systems, reagents, genomics expertise, and lab space in Shanghai to expedite breakthrough applications in gene sequencing.

It has already received dozens of applications from home-grown startups that work on disease screening and diagnosis using gene sequencing methods and algorithms as Illumina seeks to move up the industrial chain to develop new health-care solutions with scientists and health-care professionals.

"Shanghai has an abundant talent pool in the gene sequencing field and its preferential policies for biopharma as well as easier transportation access to neighbouring provinces also puts the city in a favorable situation for us to expand the local ecosystem," said Li Qing, Illumina vice president and general manager of Illumina China.

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche earlier this week launched its first in-house accelerator in its Zhangjiang campus with a 200 million yuan investment to integrate its resources and advantages to secure partnerships.

Roche points to China's focus on science and innovation and the local government's efforts to create a favorable environment for research and development in the health-care industry as an important factor for it to strengthen its presence here.

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