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For Swiss startups, China might be closer than it seems


The Swiss Chinese Life Science Forum 2021: the fourth edition review

Swiss Chinese Life Sciences Forum

This year, the Chinese government implemented its domestic-international dual circulation strategy: the country wants to strengthen domestic demand and be less dependent on imports. This policy has huge implications for the life sciences, both in China and abroad. Local policies shall support the establishment of the entire value chain in China, and Chinese companies obtain subsidies for overseas market development. As a result, Swiss startups might benefit from the growing interest of Chinese venture capital funds. On the other hand, multinational companies will face increased competition from domestic firms.

Lukas Zuest, Counsel and Head China Desk at the Swiss law firm Vischer, talked about the impact of the domestic-international dual circulation policy on the life science industry in both countries at the online edition of the Swiss Chinese Life Sciences Forum.

The fourth edition of the event, organized in collaboration with VISCHER, the Swiss Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Basel Area Business & Innovation, attracted a diverse audience, not only from Switzerland and China, but also from many other European countries and even from India.

Not only the audience was international: It was particularly interesting to hear how Hengrui, one of China’s largest pharmaceutical companies, has been developing into a true multinational corporation within only a few years by establishing operations in the USA as well as in Europe. Michael van der Laan, Head of Clinical Development Hengrui Europe Therapeutics, explained the critical role of the European R&D hub in Basel. The company benefits from the great talent pool in the Basel Area and will grow to 50 employees in the first year of its operation. With its rich and diverse life science cluster, the Basel Area provides great opportunities to collaborate with startups as well as research institutes.

Han Dai, Chief Business Officer and Head of Investment at Viva Biotech, provided another valuable perspective. The venture fund of Viva Biotech, Viva BioInnovator, is interested to collaborate with Swiss biotech startups. Besides financial support, the fund provides services to its portfolio companies to accelerate their development. As of June 2021, Viva BioInnovator had approximately 65 companies in its portfolio, with three investments in Swiss companies. Switzerland meets criteria that are important to the Chinese fund: besides cutting-edge innovation that comes from Swiss universities, competitive valuations and early-stage investors, they find the stable ecosystem with biotech clusters and an established pool of pharma leaders worth mentioning.

Viva Biotech
Source: Viva Biotech

The Swiss Chinese Life Sciences Forum was concluded by a panel discussion. Rob Scott, Global Head of Product and Network, Novartis Biome, Christian Hein, Global Head of Digital Transformation and Innovation Execution, Novartis, in Basel and Xiao Fu, Head of Digital Transformation, Novartis China, in Shanghai, talked about the collaboration with Tencent, one of the world’s largest internet companies. The two companies developed the AI Nurse, a new digital platform for heart failure disease management. This collaboration is of strategic importance for both sides as China is the lead market for digital health due to the speed of development, adoption and its large population, while the Swiss side contributes extensive know-how about the therapeutic area.

The presentations of the 4th SCLSF can be downloaded from Slideshare.

We look forward to welcome you to the fifth SCLSF in 2022.

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