Biopharmaceuticals come under conference spotlight

Ding Yining
As one of Shanghai's three pioneering industries, biopharmaceuticals drew attention at the COOCC Shanghai Committee, with the city highlighting basic research in frontier science.
Ding Yining

As one of Shanghai's three pioneering industries, biopharmaceuticals have drawn attention from participants of the "Two Sessions."

In the latest government work report, the city highlighted the importance of basic research in frontier science, and plans to propel the restructuring and development of national key laboratories in the city, to build up centers for basic research.

Local political advisers held heated discussions during the CPPCC session over more dedicated measures to boost industry development and take advantage of synergies between startups, venture funds, and established firms.

Industry watchers cite a lack of high calibre talent and untapped clinical resources as hindering the new growth momentum of Shanghai's biopharmaceuticals industry.

According to the latest action plan jointly released by the Shanghai Science Commission, Shanghai Commission of Economy and Informatization, and Shanghai Health Commission, the total industry size is estimated to reach 1 trillion yuan (US$141 billion) by 2025.

Zhu Yun, deputy general manager of state-backed investment arm the Shanghai STVC Group, believes early stage financing and targeted subsidies are required to fully unleash potential, with at least 10 billion yuan worth of state investment needed to fuel frontier industries. Insurance mechanism should be put in place to safeguard research activities in frontier industries, she added.

Domestic medical and health-care initial public offerings were generally flat over the past year, with 46 listings, down 44 percent year-on-year, and US$6.3 billion of proceeds, which was 56 percent less than a year earlier.

Chen Qiyu, co-CEO of Fosun International and a member of the CPPCC Shanghai Committee's Standing Committee, suggested a government bailout fund to help local start-up enterprises tackle cash flow troubles.

He also proposed more specified measures to encourage competitive early stage enterprises to keep their operations in Shanghai, and to help those in neighboring areas to move into the city to help boost local industry development.

Leading biopharma companies should be encouraged to set up corporate venture capital units which could allow more synergies between established firms and startups, to allow the latest research outcomes to be transformed into commercial offerings, he added.

Members of the Shanghai Municipal Committee of Jiusan Society also proposed a joint working group to enhance allocation of research budgets and resources and foster original research.

Third-party platforms were also called for to support clinical research and data sharing between businesses, medical institutions, and universities.

Special Reports