Burgeoning biomedical industry in Songjiang District

Yang Yang
A biomedical industrial sector worth hundreds of billions of yuan is forming in Songjiang District.
Yang Yang

A biomedical industrial sector worth hundreds of billions of yuan is forming in Songjiang District.

At the recent International Biopharma Industry Week Shanghai 2021, keywords originating from the district including "cloned monkey," "Songjiang smart brain" and "artificial crystalline lens" were frequently mentioned by industrial experts and business leaders.

The attention can be attributable to the district's strenuous efforts to build up a biomedical industrial cluster. In recent years, Songjiang has introduced a batch of leading companies and institutes in various niche markets like chemical medicine, biomedicine and medical appliances. Those companies and institutes include the G60 Brain Intelligence S&T Innovation Base, Henlius and Huadao Pharma.

By June, Songjiang had about 3,000 biomedical companies. Among them, more than 1,800 were registered after the district launched its G60 High-tech Corridor vision in 2016. For the district's biomedical industry, 2016 is a milestone transitional year.

Being technology-intensive, the biomedical industry emphasizes information, talent and technologies. Meanwhile, back in 2016, poor talent and capital circulation in the sector inhibited the speed of technology-achievement transformation. Biomedical companies in Songjiang, however, made full use of cross-regional cooperation and the free flow of production factors – characteristics of the G60 High-tech Corridor platform.

A milestone year

"Our company is located in Songjiang, and it now can spread influence over the entire Yangtze River Delta area," said Yu Xuejun, chairman of Huadao Pharma. "When our company was newly established, we were not able to pave a supply chain and a selling channel across the entire Yangtze River Delta. Later, relying on the radiation force of the G60 High-tech Corridor, our products are now sold well across the delta area."

In 2020, medium- and large-size biomedical companies in Songjiang generated an industrial output of 12.25 billion yuan (US$1.91 billion), up 40 percent over the previous year.

To attract and nourish its high-quality biomedical projects, the district has been doing a strenuous job.

The biomedical sector is known for long research periods and high risks. Companies in different growing stages require different kinds of assistance.

"We help those companies fulfill their first-stage innovation, and therefore carry out the national strategy and help optimize the ecology of the biomedical sector in Shanghai and the Yangtze River Delta area," said Xu Hao, deputy chief of the Songjiang Economic Commission.

The district has been offering mature and complete industrial-chain support services, while introducing and supporting a variety of research institutes, academic workstations, key labs and corporate research centers. Through making use of extant innovation platforms like the G60 Brain Intelligence S&T Innovation Base and promoting close cooperation between companies, universities, research institutes and hospitals, Songjiang is accelerating the transformation of high-tech biomedical achievements.

Henlius, for example, has successfully developed a rituximab injection, China's first self-developed biosimilar, while Haohai Biological Technology has broken up monopolies from overseas companies through becoming China's first bone joint viscoelastic supplement producer and world Top 7 intraocular lens manufacturer.

Government assistance

Governmental services have also sharpened the competitiveness of Songjiang's biomedical industry cluster.

Companies, while seeking governmental approval, will find their documents in different stages handled by a professional official. Take Xinkaiyuan Precision Medical Global Research and Production Base in Songjiang as an example. The project, from registration to issuing a construction permit, was totally handled by the Songjiang Economic and Technological Development Zone.

"The company only visited the government administration site once. It took only two weeks to obtain its construction permit after registration, compared with a period of one year previously," said an official from the ETDZ.

The district's industrial policies, under constant optimization, also help with the continued development of Songjiang's biomedical industry.

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