Regulatory support from the Chinese government and growing interest from the investment world have contributed to China’s booming biotech industry, which has continuously been luring talent away from multinational drug companies.
In recent years, many former Chinese executives from the likes of Pfizer, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and Sanofi either jumped to domestic biopharmas or struck out on their own. The drivers behind their decisions: higher salary and more room for growth in an entrepreneurial environment, according to the Financial Times.
China has been relying heavily on generics, and that kind of a market left small room for innovation, leaving only a handful of multinationals as the main sources of innovative drugs in the country. Therefore, when the biotech industry does come alive, it’s only natural that it will turn to these global companies for talent.
“The value proposition of local biotechs is clear: they provide an entrepreneurial environment, there is the possibility of future public listing and exciting opportunities in terms of building a business,” Franck Le Deu, a senior partner at McKinsey in Hong Kong, was quoted by FT.
Xiaobin Wu, Ph.D., formerly Pfizer China’s general manager who recently jumped to BeiGene, told FT that at Chinese biotech startups, “the working dynamic is very different and the decision making is fast.”
In 2017, the Chinese biopharma industry received $11.7 billion in venture capital investment, according to ChinaBio. Those handsome financial injections not only went to R&D activities, but also offer a larger pool for executive pay. According to an executive with recruiting firm Hays interviewed by FT, Chinese startups offered 20% higher base salaries than global pharmas.
Here is a nonexhaustive summary of some recent examples of Chinese MNC-to-biotech shifts:
By Angus Liu
Source: Fierce Pharma
Colorcon Ventures, the corporate venture fund of Colorcon Inc., has invested in VeriSIM Life, a San Francisco-based startup with a digital bio-simulation platform that accelerates drug development and reduces animal testing.
Initial public offerings have fueled biotech’s boom. Keep track of them as they happen with this database. Which biotechs create value over time, and which fail? What types of companies are generating the best returns? Who are their top investors? Biopharma Dive is tracking these details in the database which will be updated regularly.
Sanofi has ended a long-running alliance with Sangamo Therapeutics to develop genetic medicines for inherited blood disorders, among them an experimental sickle cell disease therapy that is in early clinical testing.
The two have been developing complex, personalized treatments, led by a sickle cell drug known as SAR445136. But Sanofi is now more interested in off-the-shelf approaches, which are meant to be more convenient.