Drug companies flock to Biolake industrial zone for future
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
of JHL Biotech
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
A worker checks facilities at a biological lab at JHL Biotech.