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AstraZeneca sets global strategic center in Shanghai

By ZHOU WENTING in Shanghai | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-02-28 09:08

Visitors check out AstraZeneca products during the sixth China International Import Expo in Shanghai in November. CHINA DAILY

Multinational pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said on Monday that Shanghai will be its fifth global strategic center, leveraging on the city's as well as China's market strength and reflecting the confidence of the United Kingdom-based company's development in the country.

Following the four strategic centers in the UK's Cambridge, Boston and Gaithersburg in the United States, and Gothenburg, Sweden, which all focus on research and development, the one in Shanghai will become another global strategic center but integrates R&D, commercial and production operations.

It will also function as an important strategic fulcrum for Astra-Zeneca's global strategy, R&D and long-term development, the company said.

Chen Jining, Party secretary of Shanghai, met with Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca, and his team, the same day.

"The purpose of leading the global senior management team to Shanghai is to deepen their understanding of China and Shanghai, continue to increase investment in innovation, and carry out more in-depth cooperation with local innovative pharmaceutical companies in China, so as to make greater contributions to promoting high-quality development of Shanghai's pharmaceutical industry and better benefit patients around the world," Soriot said.

The company's Asia-Pacific headquarters, China headquarters and global R&D China center are located in Shanghai.

Chen said that biomedicine is one of the three leading industries in Shanghai. Since last year, Shanghai has unveiled a number of innovative policies to support enterprises and promote new breakthroughs in R&D facilitation, innovative drug and device listings as well as clinical trials.

"We'll make every effort to create a first-class business environment that is market-oriented, law-based and internationalized, and provide a full range of high-quality services for global enterprises and talent to thrive in Shanghai," said Chen.

Data from the Shanghai Municipal Science and Technology Commission showed that the industrial scale of Shanghai's biomedical industry jumped from 383.3 billion yuan ($53.25 billion) in 2019 to 933.7 billion yuan last year.

Sharon Barr, executive vice-president of biopharmaceuticals R&D at AstraZeneca, said that the proportion of China R&D in the company's global R&D has been growing constantly.

"Over the past decade, we have 167 studies in China. In addition to that, our China team leads studies that are global. So, from China, we are initiating and leading studies that span the entire planet," she said.

Barr also said that in the clinical development space, partners in China have an edge in being creative and innovative.

"They test new concepts, and they do this at scale with large patient populations. Also, they use innovative approaches, like leveraging investigator-initiated trials to test our molecules in real populations and understand how they're best working. That's a unique and collaborative approach that's not seen everywhere," she said.

AstraZeneca also unveiled a plan to assist 30 Shanghai enterprises to go global in 2024. The plan will cover emerging markets involved in the Belt and Road Initiative as well as the US, Japan, and some developed countries in Europe. Through two-way visits, the company will promote cross-border cooperation and exchanges in pharmaceutical innovation.

This will also help strengthen the connection between Shanghai and the international innovation ecosystem, and enhance the city's international reputation as a science and technology innovation hub, said the company.

Guo Shuting, deputy director of the Shanghai Medical Products Administration, said that among the 10 most representative trades of license-out in the country in 2022, five involved Shanghai-based enterprises with a total amount exceeding $4.7 billion.

Trades of license-out refer to a local enterprise conducting early drug R&D and authorizing the project to other pharmaceutical businesses for later clinical R&D and marketing.

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