Perks enjoyed by companies based in the FTZ
The Shanghai FTZ, which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary today, has become “a place to be” for many firms that have placed their trust in the pilot zone with numerous “first” initiatives. Shanghai Daily spoke with three executives — Wang Liqun, founder, chairman, and CEO of Neukio Biotherapeutics; Sean Xie, president of Lenze East Asia and general manager of Lenze China; and Jeannette Leong, investment manager (to be appointed) of Schroder Fund Management (China) Co Ltd — to find out how their companies were doing since they established a presence in the zone and the benefits of operating from there.
Q: Can you give us a brief introduction of yourself and your company?
Wang: I returned to Shanghai after 24 years — completing my graduate studies and working for various MNCs in the United States. My work experience has primarily been in the pharmaceutical industry, with a strong emphasis on biomedical research and development. It is the vibrant innovation environment and a personal ambition to contribute to China’s thriving biopharma industry that led to my return. I had the privilege of working with teams and some wonderful people at Fosun Kite to launch the first NMPA-approved CAR-T cell therapy in China, which has given hope to hundreds of lymphoma patients. Knowing the limitations of current autologous cell therapy, I founded Neukio in 2021 with a goal of developing allogenic cell therapies with scalable manufacturing and potential to benefit a much larger solid tumor patient group at an affordable cost.
Xie: I have over 30 years of executive-level experience in MNCs and overseas firms, with expertise in building enterprise strategy and team growth. I have always believed that “business growth does not come naturally, and only personal growth can bring about business growth.” Lenze, which I joined in 2019, is an automation company with nearly 80 years of experience in motion control, ranging from market validated precision geared motor products to market-leading intelligent servo drive products to controller-based automation solutions. Lenze is dedicated in its slogan “engineered to win.” Lenze’s products are being used in different industries in various fields, and many years of experience have been transformed into simple and easy-to-use technological modules to aid client progress and success while also pushing the ongoing advancement of Lenze’s technology.
Leong: I joined Schroders Group in 2014. With 17 years of investment management expertise, I am now primarily responsible for credit investments in Asian fixed income and the Chinese domestic bond market. Schroders has been committed to contributing to the growth of China’s asset management business since 1994, when it opened its first Chinese mainland representative office in Shanghai. Schroder Fund Management (China) Co Ltd reached another milestone in its development on the Chinese mainland this year, when the China Securities Regulatory Commission granted the company a public fund business license to operate as a wholly-owned public fund management company, making it one of the foreign-owned fund management companies in China to establish a new public fund management business.
Q: How long have you been at the FTZ? What has been the biggest change in the zone over the past decade?
Wang: When looking for a place to set up Neukio, I chose FTZ’s Life Science Park. Not only because it is a modern new park with floor height suited for clean rooms and GMP manufacturing, but also because the FTZ has particular incentive policies and programs that provide significant help to startups. The FTZ has developed as a new biotech bed nurturing innovation and revolutionary medicinal products from the traditional logistics and supply chain management-focused business.
Xie: I’ve been here for five years, but Lenze has been in Lingang for 17 years. The Chinese government places a very high value on Lingang, which is steadily transitioning from an industrial zone to a new FTZ area. The industrial chain is becoming more complete as more businesses relocate here. There are numerous manufacturing industries, as well as service and financial businesses, that have combined to produce a diverse and efficient industrial environment. More talent is congregating here, putting new life into the development of Lingang’s industry.
Leong: I’ve been working at the FTZ since 2019. One of the most significant changes in the FTZ over the last decade, in my opinion, has been the liberalization of its financial markets. The arrival of foreign asset management businesses and the issuance of additional licenses have been critical. These reforms have not only attracted international investors but also increased competitiveness and innovation within the FTZ. This shift toward a more accessible and diverse financial landscape positions the FTZ as a global financial center and corresponds with China’s broader financial sector liberalization aspirations. It’s a game-changing development with enormous potential for both domestic and international players.
Q: Can you summarize the most outstanding feature of the free trade zone? And why?
Wang: Service-oriented governance and management of the FTZ have been outstanding features, with favorable trade policies and tax benefits rolled out on a regular basis. These initiatives have allowed startups to hit the ground running quickly and spend less time on administrative tasks. financial openness and innovation.
Xie: The word is “fast,” and it refers to the policy’s launch, implementation, and response to firms.
Leong: The Shanghai FTZ has made significant contributions to the promotion of international financial flows. Over the last decade, it has launched numerous cross-border pilot projects, including the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect, the Bond Connect, the Qualified Foreign Limited Partner (QFLP) project, and the Qualified Domestic Limited Partner (QDLP) project, all of which have contributed to Schroders Group’s financial openness and innovation.
Q: What changes have taken place in your life since you moved into the free trade zone?
Wang: I’ve been more productive and effective working on company development now that I know I can talk to people and obtain help on operational concerns.
Xie: There have been great changes in the business environment, with increasingly convenient transportation and vastly improved accommodation and business facilities. In addition, the government has also introduced a series of talent housing programs to attract high-level talent which has injected new vitality into the development of enterprises.
Leong: My association with the Shanghai FTZ has brought about significant changes in my life. Primarily, it has deepened my understanding of the Chinese market, which has been instrumental in making more informed investment judgments for our clients. Keeping an eye on regulatory updates, market dynamics, and investor sentiment has provided invaluable insights, allowing us to better match our tactics with the changing Chinese market.
Moreover, my experience in the FTZ has entailed sharing and refining international investment experience through localization efforts. Working closely with local teams has facilitated a mutually synergistic exchange of knowledge, honing Schroders’ collective investment capabilities.
Participating in Schroders’ expansion in China to obtain our public Fund Management Company underscores our dedication to the Chinese market. It has been a tremendously fulfilling experience to contribute to this strategic expansion, demonstrating our agility and dedication to our Chinese clients.
Lastly, engaging in ESG (environmental, social and governance) and sustainability initiatives within the FTZ aligns perfectly with global trends and Schroders’ investment capabilities. These changes have not only enriched my professional life but also broadened my horizons, equipping me to navigate the dynamic landscape of finance in China.
Q: What are your thoughts on the development of the FTZ, and how does it compare with similar zones elsewhere in the world?
Wang: I believe that FTZs, like other high-tech parks across the country, are still establishing its infrastructure and competitive advantages. It is too early to declare which is the best; different businesses may have different requirements. Customers will finally be won by those who consistently update their service model and focus on assisting company success.
Xie: My takeaways: 1. Dare to innovate and bring forth new things through constant experimentation and improvement in order to boost corporate development. The key to enterprise development is innovation; only by constantly bringing forth new things can we keep enterprises competitive and vital. 2. Businesses can engage and communicate with one another, as well as enhance their management and business levels, by referring to and learning from one another through organizations such as industry associations. This can encourage enterprise cooperation and communication while also promoting enterprise development.
Leong: Over the last decade, we have witnessed the Shanghai FTZ’s commitment to institutional innovation as its core, the continuous deepening of its leading role as a pilot zone, and the continuous promotion of high-level opening-up to the outside world, resulting in the birth of a series of “first batch” and “first” foreign-funded financial institutions in China. While providing opportunities for international asset management firms to deeply explore the Chinese market, it has also improved the efficiency of China’s financial resource allocation and provided rich investment options to Chinese residents, further promoting the modernization of China’s financial and economic development. Schroders Group is privileged and pleased to be a part of the Shanghai FTZ’s historic path of innovative development. At the same time, it expects to be able to engage in various types of pilot programs and investigate various opportunities for the development of foreign asset management companies in China.
Q: What advice do you have for the FTZ?
Wang: We expect the Shanghai FTZ to accelerate the implementation of new enterprise-friendly policies, particular-ly in the areas of talent attraction and infrastructure development, as well as financial assistance to enterprises developing and commercializing innovative products.
Xie: To meet the entertainment and nightlife needs of enterprise employees, it is necessary to accelerate the construction and improvement of supporting facilities. These facilities can include various entertainment facilities, fitness equipment, reading spaces, etc., to increase employee work enthusiasm and satisfaction, which is beneficial to the development and stability of businesses.
Leong: Rather than advice, I would suggest a collaborative approach. The Shanghai FTZ has made significant steps toward creating a business-friendly environment. Continued collaboration with foreign stakeholders is critical for continued growth. The FTZ can increase its attractiveness to international enterprises by actively engaging in discourse, sharing best practices, and aligning with global norms. Prioritizing sustainability and responsible company practices also helps it gain a competitive advantage in today’s mindful market. Finally, a collaborative approach, both domestically and globally, will strengthen the FTZ’s reputation as a dynamic, open, and innovative business hub while favorably contributing to China’s economic progress.