Drug com­pa­nies flock to Bi­o­lake in­dus­trial zone for fu­ture

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS | MARKETS - By ZHUAN TI and ZHOU LIHUA As the Chi­nese econ­omy en­ters the new nor­mal with its growth rate slow­ing, in­no­va­tion has been placed at a core po­si­tion in China’s over­all de­vel­op­ment. China Daily re­cently in­ter­viewed peo­ple in­volved with a lead­ing State-leve

A startup bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany in the Bi­o­lake area of Wuhan’s Op­tics Val­ley, JHL Biotech aims to com­ply with the high­est in­ter­na­tional stan­dards and shorten the time and cost of cre­at­ing phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal prod­ucts.

“Our fac­tory con­sists of 62 mod­ules and oc­cu­pies one hectare of land. All of these were built within three months from an empty lot to a fully func­tional bio­pharma fac­tory,” said Chen Ji­akuan, gen­eral man­ager of JHL Biotech.

“Usu­ally for a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal fac­tory of sim­i­lar size, the in­stal­la­tion of the pipes, drainage and cir­cuits takes a year to com­plete, not to men­tion all the ad­min­is­tra­tion pro­cesses,” Chen said.

Show­ing a time-lapse video of the fac­tory’s con­struc­tion process, Chen said the se­cret to the speedy con­struc­tion is that all 62 mod­ules were de­signed and built in Ger­many by GE Health­care Life Sci­ence.

“All we needed to do in China was as­sem­ble it, then it was ready to use,” Chen said.

Built by the worl­drenowned tech­nol­ogy ser­vice provider GE, JHL Biotech is the first mod­u­lar­ized readyto-run bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal fac­tory in the world de­signed by GE.

The con­cept helps com­pa­nies or coun­tries with less ad­vanced fa­cil­i­ties reach and main­tain in­ter­na­tional stan­dards in a rel­a­tively short pe­riod.

The fac­tory of JHL, the largest mon­o­clonal an­ti­body man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity in the world, is set­ting the prece­dent for this in­no­va­tive way of man­u­fac­tur­ing.

With such re­mark­able and glob­ally com­pet­i­tive tech­nol­ogy, why would the founders of JHL Biotech choose Wuhan, a city in Cen­tral China, as their base?

Rose Lin, co-founder of JHL Biotech, said that in the area of biotech, not only the Chi­nese main­land and Tai­wan, but the en­tirety of South­east Asia is fall­ing be­hind Europe and the US.

“For ex­am­ple, in the US, it costs $50,000 for a year’s course of treat­ment for breast can­cer, but it costs dou­ble that in China be­cause of im­port taxes. It’s not fair,” said Lin. “I want to pro­vide af­ford­able and ac­ces­si­ble medicine for China and South­east Asia.”

Lin be­lieved that JHL Biotech was not merely bring­ing an­other fac­tory into the Bi­o­lake area of Wuhan, but fill­ing the gap be­tween China and more es­tab­lished coun­tries in the area of biotech­nol­ogy.

For­tu­nately, Wuhan Bi­o­lake of Op­tics Val­ley has also rec­og­nized the value and po­ten­tial of JHL, and was will­ing to pro­vide as­sis­tance wher­ever pos­si­ble.

“Be­cause Wuhan is en­cour­ag­ing for­eign cap­i­tal to come in and in­vest in their high-tech zone, they gave us re­ally good deals and as­sis­tance in the pol­icy to help us start off,” Lin said.

“They rented four hectares of land at a con­sid­er­ably low price and promised that for the first five years of the lease, the rent will not go up.”

Op­tics Val­ley has suc­cess­fully per­suaded com­pa­nies in Wuhan to find of­fice build­ings for JHL Biotech.

JHL Biotech needs only to pay rent rather than spend mil­lions of yuan on

Chen Ji­akuan,

of JHL Biotech

gen­eral man­ager

con­struc­tion. How­ever, as a startup com­pany, there re­main chal­lenges ahead for JHL Biotech in the fierce com­pe­ti­tion with their coun­ter­parts world­wide.

“The most dif­fi­cult prob­lem for us is to cope with im­port taxes,” Lin said.

“To be hon­est, we would rather spend the money on ed­u­cat­ing and train­ing our staff in the be­gin­ning.”

Af­ter hear­ing of JHL Biotech’s dilemma, an of­fi­cer at Op­tics Val­ley started to ne­go­ti­ate the tax pol­icy, ac­cord­ing to Chen.

JHL Biotech is not the first com­pany with for­eign cap­i­tal that has set­tled in Wuhan. Pfizer, For­tune 500 phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany, has wit­nessed how a Bi­o­lake started off as shape­less and bar­ren, and grad­u­ally turned it­self into a pros­per­ous high­tech biotech­nol­ogy zone.

of the com­pany were de­signed and built in Ger­many by GE Health­care Life Sci­ence

ZHANG WEI / CHINA DAILY

A worker checks fa­cil­i­ties at a bi­o­log­i­cal lab at JHL Biotech.

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