Mar 2, 2021

Merck accelerates biopharma innovation in China

Kate Birch
3 min
Merck announces partnership with China’s leading pharma firm to strengthen the innovation capabilities of the healthcare industry in the Greater Bay Area
Merck announces partnership with China’s leading pharma firm to strengthen the innovation capabilities of the healthcare industry in the Greater Bay A...

Two leading healthcare companies have teamed up to bring innovation and development to the healthcare industry in China. 

Leading German multinational science and technology company, Merck, has entered into a strategic partnership with Guangzhou Pharmaceutical Holdings Limited (GPHL), China's leading pharmaceutical company. 

The collaboration aims to explore the unique development opportunities for the biopharma industry in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area of China, and further boost the region’s innovation capabilities within the healthcare industry. 

Such a strategic alliance will “promote the future development of pharmaceutical retail and strengthen the biopharma innovation ecosystem in the Greater Bay Area”, says Rogier Janssens, Managing Director and General Manager of Merck's Healthcare Business in China. This, in turn, will bring “high-quality innovative drugs to more Chinese patients”.

Greater Bay Area key region for Merck in recent years

China is one of Merck’s most important strategic markets globally and has in recent years demonstrated “tremendous innovation potential of its healthcare space” with the dynamic and open Greater Bay Area in particular continuing to play a pioneering role in the development of China's biopharma industry. 

The region has a noticeable advantage in industrial agglomeration and a complete upstream and downstream industry chain and is especially well-regarded when it comes to the R&D, production and distribution of chemical medicine.

In recent years, Merck has attached great importance to its partnerships in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. At the end of 2019, the company launched its Guangdong Innovation Hub, focused on bringing solutions to market covering healthcare, life sciences, performance materials and other emerging scientific and technological areas. 

And during the 3rd China International Import Expo in 2020, the Merck China Innovation Center released its Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Innovation Ecosystem White Paper, investigating the potential for further planning, industrial integration, and innovation development in the region.

Lowdown on China’s largest pharma company – GPHL

Ranked as number one in the Top 100 list of Chinese pharmaceutical companies for the last nine consecutive years, GPHL’s aim is to “soon become one of the world’s top 500 biopharma and health companies”, according to Li Chuyuan, the Secretary of the Party Committee and Chairman of GPHL. 

Already well-established in the Greater Bay Area, with its international headquarters in Macau, the firm has multi-level partnerships throughout the region, including with Hong Kong University, University of Macau, Macau University of Science and Technology and Traditional Chinese Medicine Science and Technology Industrial Park of Co-operation between Guangdong and Macao (GMTCM Park), so as to further promote the integration of its medical and health industry and establish a benchmark for its future development.

In addition to its strengths in traditional industries such as proprietary Chinese medicines and herbs, chemical raw materials and preparations, GPHL is now developing a wider capacity for R&D and the manufacture of biological medicines and full suite of health products, and developing business logistics, distribution and healthcare services. 

“We will continue to invest in advanced R&D aimed at creating high-level, innovative drugs and health products, while promoting high-quality industrial development for the further benefit of humankind,” states Chuyuan. 

In recent years, in its efforts to globalise, GPHL has appeared alongside Global Fortune 500 companies at international conferences, and has established joint ventures with firms like Walgreens Boots Alliance, and strategic partnerships with multinationals like Pepsi and Takeda.

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Jun 13, 2021

Seo JungJin: Who is EY’s World Entrepreneur of 2021?

Kate Birch
3 min
From just US$45,000 capital in 2003 to a world-leading biopharma giant with revenues of US$1.69bn today, Seo JungJin is crowned EY World Entrepreneur 2021

Seo JungJin, founder of biopharma firm Celltrion, which most recently developed an antibody treatment for COVID-19, has been named the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year 2021, becoming the first South Korean in the award’s 21-year history.

Regarded as one of the world’s most prestigious business awards program for entrepreneurs, the EY Entrepreneur of the Year celebrates visionary and innovative leaders from across 60 countries who are transforming the world and fostering growth.

JungJin, who is now honoroary chairman of Celltrion Group, was up against a worthy cast of entrepreneurial competitors, taking the crown from among 45 award winners across 38 countries and territories.

Speaking during the virtual event, JungJin described his own interpretation of entrepreneurship as something that brings together “a group of people toward a common vision, embracing challenges as opportunities and committing oneself to contribute to the greater good”.

Why was JungJin crowned King Entrepreneur?

A South Korean native and now 63 years of age, JungJin founded biopharmaceutical firm Celltrion in 2003. In the nearly two decades since its founding, Celltrion has lived up to its goal of advancing health and welfare for all by developing ground-breaking drugs to treat autoimmune disease, various forms of cancer and, most recently, COVID-19.

The company, which JungJin started with just US$45,000 and five of his colleagues, has since growth to more than 2,1000 employees with sales permits in more than 90 countries and revenues exceeding US$1.69bn.

According to the panel, JungJin’s story is a shining example of the power of an unstoppable entrepreneur to change the world with the pandel moved by both his incredible story and his purpose-driven leadership, innovative mindset and entrepreneurial spirit.

Described by the chair of the EY judging panel Rosaleen Blair as “representing everything an unstoppable should be” from taking on the world’s biggest health care challenges to consistently creating long-term value for his company, JungJin’s story is one of incredible tenacity and perseverance that the judging panel felt most represented the entrepreneurial spirit.

“He’s taken breathtaking risks, both personal and professional, to found Celltrion and grow it into one of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies,” says Stasia Mitchell, EY Global Entrepreneurship Leader. “His passion for creating affordable, life-saving health care and flair for tackling global problems has led to many treatments that have helped millions of people worldwide and was especially evident this past year through the creation of a COVID-19 antibody treatment.”

How did JungJin get there?

JungJin's entrepreneurial journey started at an early age when he worked as a taxi driver to get himself through Konkuk University in Seoul, South Korea. After studying industrial engineering, he rose through the ranks of Daewoo Motor Co. before losing his job amid the carmaker’s financial troubles following the 1997 Asian economic crisis.

Following this, JungJin started collaborating with colleagues to explore business opportunities in different industries, though none delivered lasting success. The turning point came after he attended a talk hosted by renowned scholars, which inspired him to focus on the biopharmaceutical sector.

And so he founded Celltrion with just US$45,000 of his savings. The launch of Remsima, credited with being the world's first antibody biosimilar, quickly moved Celltrion up the ranks of the country's fairly underdeveloped pharmaceutical sector. Celltrion followed this success with the launch of drugs for breast cancer and lymphoma that today are being used worldwide.

With ambitions to be the world’s first in different areas, Celltrion has pioneered numerous uncharted areas to great success over the past two decades, most recently responding to the global pandemic by successfully developing an antibody treatment for COVID-19 and working to ensure a timely supply of the safe and effective treatment.

“When I first started, my vision was to help patients gain access to safe, effective and affordable medicines and thereby enhance the quality of people’s lives,” explains JungJin. “The success of Celltrion has enabled me to expand on this while finding new ways to fuel my entrepreneurial drive.”


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