BEIJING—Aimed at bolstering the bioscience industry in bothOhio and Beijing, a unique global economic development pact has been forged byBioOhio, a nonprofit, Columbus, Ohio-based trade organization, and the BeijingPharma and Biotech Center (BPBC).
"The collaboration is hoping to build upon a pipeline ofChinese investment in the U.S., which has grown at an average pace of 30percent between 2004 and 2008," says John Lewis Jr., BioOhio vice president andchief operating officer. "Both regions have robust and growing biosciencecommunities, so it is a perfect fit as bioscience, business, research andeducation become increasingly global."
The idea for the East/West trade route began during aconvention May 5 in Chicago, where BioOhio President and CEO Tony Dennis andBPBC Deputy Director-General Zhang Zegong struck up a conversation and hit itoff. Before the day was done, plans were in the works for the collaboration,which culminated June 23 in Beijing with the signing of the businessdevelopment agreement by Lewis and BPBC Director-General Lei Ting.
The pact places special emphasis on medical devicecommercialization and cardiovascular innovation. BPBC will assist Ohio medicaldevice companies in exploring market opportunities in Beijing and in navigatingregulatory and importing requirements. The pact's partners will promote thecreation, growth and development of biomedical companies that will have majoroffices, R&D facilities and significant employment in both Ohio and Beijing.
Specifically, the Beijing biotech center will help Ohiomedical device companies view market opportunities in China and help withpaperwork and language hurdles, Lewis says. Both BioOhio and the Beijing centeralso will facilitate information-sharing between hospitals—including theCleveland Clinic, a top U.S. heart care hospital—and Beijing-based researchersspecializing in cardiovascular innovations.
The BioOhio agreement with BPBC "is only one-half of ourChina strategy," Lewis says.
"BioOhio/BPBC will focus on Northern China, specifically theBeijing area," Lewis explains. "The other half is our partnership with Columbus-based New ProductsInnovation, which will focus on Southern China—Shanghai, in particular—andemphasize medical devices."
The Chinese side of this southern strategy is led by YanLiang, president of the Medical Device Trade Association, and Wai Gao Qiao,founder of the China Gateway for Medical Devices.
China brings to the table the energy and eagerness to workwith U.S. companies, along with its growing bioscience community, Lewis says.China has been striving for a stronger connection with the West for some time,says Zhu Shilong, deputy director-general of the Bejing Municipal Science andTechnology Commission.
"Carrying out international exchanges with the top regionsin the world to integrate resources is the most important way to achieve anindustrial leap forward and promote Beijing as a global innovation center inbiotech and pharmaceuticals," Shilong says. "We also will promote the sharingof information between both parties and create the networking and informationalinfrastructure to facilitate cooperation and business relations between allparties for a well managed flow and exchange of business opportunities."
Outsourcing is the wave of the future, Lewis says. In bothdevice manufacturing and drug manufacturing, the development of new devices anddrugs is global, with outsourced skills being used from various locations tomove products down the commercialization pathway, he adds.
"You may partner with one company on a new product andcompete directly with the same company on another," Lewis says. "China is nowpart of the mix and has resources, people and infrastructure that canaccelerate an Ohio company's product or drug getting to market. In thebiomedical arena, it is not as much about cost savings during the developmentcycle, but time-to-market. An Ohio start-up can co-develop some of theseelements with a Chinese company (with the help of BPBC), and have the finishedsystem done sooner than if they did it all themselves. The final assembly canbe done in Ohio, thus a win for the Ohio company, as well as the Chinesecompany."
International exchanges "with the top regions in the worldto integrate resources is the most important way to achieve an industrialleap-forward and promote Beijing as a global innovation center in biotech andpharmaceuticals," Lewis adds.
The deal is considered priceless, according to Lewis.
"How much could these future business arrangements make?" he says. "Whoknows? But getting a blockbuster drug to market a year earlier is worthliterally billions of dollars."