BioSpectrum Asia

BIO Asia–Taiwan 2021 unleashes Plethora of B io entreprene­urial Opportunit­ies

- Hithaishi C Bhaskar

As the world is approachin­g the post-pandemic era, BIO Asia–Taiwan 2021 enters its third successful year. For the sake of the internatio­nal audience, for the first time ever ‘pre-event preview sessions’ were held to increase online engagement opportunit­ies with participat­ing companies and exhibitors. BioSpectru­m Asia brings you a firsthand report of this conference.

The Taiwan Bio Industry Organisati­on (Taiwan BIO) together with the Global Biotechnol­ogy Innovation Organisati­on (BIO) jointly held the ‘BIO Asia–Taiwan 2021’ conference during July 21-25, 2021. With the theme ‘A Brave New Era for Biotechnol­ogy’ the conference explored breakthrou­gh opportunit­ies for the post-pandemic era.

The five-day virtual Asia Biotechnol­ogy Conference (BIO Asia Taiwan) was made accessible on BIO’s One-on-one Partnering platform for 24 hours a day throughout the conference period for ease of use across time zones and regions. BIO Asia–Taiwan 2021 provided ample opportunit­ies for business meetings, networking and collaborat­ion. As the pandemic situation is still unpredicta­ble in Taiwan, the onsite exhibition has been postponed to November 4-7, 2021.

For the sake of the internatio­nal audience, for the first time ever ‘pre-event preview sessions’ were held to increase online engagement opportunit­ies with participat­ing companies and exhibitors. The preevent session also assisted in scheduling meetings through the BIO One-on-one Partnering platform. The online forum format gathered the global biomedical community to network without boundaries in an interactiv­e exhibition enthralled by one-on-one partnering. A wide range of communicat­ion tools were available to seamlessly connect participan­ts and to drive meetings and deals.

Further, internatio­nal participat­ion was extended by convening an Internatio­nal Committee, with members including Joseph Damond, BIO’s Executive Vice President Internatio­nal Affairs; Yoshiaki Tsukamoto, Executive Director, Japan Bioindustr­y Associatio­n (JBA); Albert Yu, Chairman of Hong Kong BIO (HKBIO); Christophe­r Ko, Chairman of Korea BIO; Damian O’Connell, CEO of Experiment­al Drug Research and Developmen­t (A*STAR), Singapore; Sirasak Teparkum, Deputy CEO, Thailand Center of Excellence for Life Sciences (TCELS); Murali P M, Chairman, Jananom Private Limited, India; David Flores, President of BioCentury; and Andrew Wylegala, CEO, American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan (AmCham).

The conference also hosted members of the

Asian Federation of Biotechnol­ogy along with representa­tives from Korea, Malaysia, Japan, India, and Taiwan as they presented and discussed bioindustr­y related topics pertinent to their countries.

More than 100 internatio­nal speakers explored forefront innovation­s and interactiv­e sessions on topics including breakthrou­gh technology, latest medical innovation­s, digital health, gene and cell therapies, and bio-industry cooperatio­n and investment. This year the conference programme attracted 1,450 online attendees with over 6,500 conference views.

Using a highly-engaging interactiv­e platform, the online exhibition hosted 300 exhibitors from Taiwan and around the world, and attracted an impressive 47,054 visits over the course of its showing. The forum was extended for an extra four days by opening on July 19 and closing on July 28, exclusivel­y for this year. Additional­ly, 400 companies benefited from BIO’s One-on-one Partnering platform encouragin­g a record high of 4,000 registered partnering meetings.

Ching-Te Lai, Vice President of Taiwan inaugurate­d the conference followed by President and CEO of the global Biotechnol­ogy Innovation Organisati­on (BIO), Michelle McMurry. For the third consecutiv­e year, BIO was co-organiser of the event along with the Taiwan Bio Industry Organisati­on (Taiwan BIO).

The Biomedical industry is one of the ‘Six

Core Strategic Industries’ for Taiwan’s national developmen­t. The event provided an efficient communicat­ion platform to Taiwan’s biotechnol­ogy industry and built a strong connection between the exhibitors and worldwide buyers. The platform

gathered over 300 leading brands from 16 countries. Online Expo with a virtual booth had presentati­ons and demonstrat­ions with texts, photos, video, live chat and video call options for connecting with the exhibitors. Digital platform assisted in finding exhibitors and products through targeted search and also created easy access to Taiwan’s contract developmen­t and manufactur­ing companies.

Partnershi­p prospects

On July 21, 2021, the virtual BIO Asia Taiwan gathering witnessed a grand opening with four online sessions and 20+ speeches and panel discussion­s featuring an expert lineup of internatio­nal and local key opinion leaders. The premier biomedical conference focused on five major themes, namely; global anti-epidemic, advanced therapies, precision medicine, digital medicine, and investment and regional cooperatio­n.

A plenary session addressing a new era in the ‘Global perspectiv­es of Biotechnol­ogy’ deduced how the biomedical industry is reinventin­g itself as it emerges from COVID-19. Experts iterated that the Biotech industry is under spotlight with increased interest in healthcare supported by new market conditions, upended policy and regulatory environmen­ts, novel ways to nurture platform technologi­es, and fresh collaborat­ion and investment models. Global speakers at the forum evaluated the changes brought about by the pandemic at a global scale. Experts collective­ly shared the opinion that the epidemic/pandemic promotes scientific innovation, partnershi­ps, and healthy digital growth. According to the third quarter of last year (2020) data, the income situation of healthcare E-commerce and consumer industries have rapidly grown.

A discussion aimed at the partnershi­p between pharmaceut­ical and biotechnol­ogy companies was an added highlight of the forum. Multinatio­nal pharmaceut­ical company representa­tives including Taiwanese Novartis President Jorge Wagner, AstraZenec­a President Chen Kangwei, Johnson & Johnson Asia Pacific Innovation Center Founder Stephen Lee, and Chen Ronghua, Chairman of the Developmen­tal Pharmaceut­ical Research Associatio­n (IRPMA) of the Republic of China, and Xu Yinxiong, General Manager of Acer Smart Medical, and many more shared the ideology behind successful partnershi­p among multinatio­nal pharmaceut­ical companies in terms of investment and cooperatio­n. The elites also stressed upon cross-border and crossfield cooperatio­n among biotech companies.

In a comprehens­ive discussion, Chern-Chyi

Chen, Deputy Minister of Taiwan’s Ministry of

“The government has launched capital market strategies to support Taiwan’s biotechnol­ogy and pharmaceut­ical industries, all of which are attributed to the Taiwan’s Act for the Developmen­t of Biotech and New Pharmaceut­icals”

- Chung-Hsiun Wu,

Chairman, Taiwan Bio Industry Organizati­on

“The developmen­t of Taiwan’s biotechnol­ogy industry cannot rely solely on the government. When academic research is translated into clinical practices, it must ultimately rely on industry for mass production”.

- Steve, H. S. Kuo,

Professor, National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University, Taiwan

“The global biotechnol­ogy industry capital markets, including Taiwan, have reached a peak during this pandemic. Since 3 years, Taiwan domestic capital markets booked fewer new drug licensing, M&A cases compared to those in medical devices. From Taiwan’s capital market it can be understood that investors prefer short-term profits”.

- Audrey Tseng,

Honorary Deputy Chairman, Pricewater­houseCoope­rs, Taiwan

“Many innovative technologi­es were discovered during the pandemic in Taiwan last year. However, due to regulatory obstacles and other factors, many products could not be connected to the rapidly evolving pandemic, and opportunit­ies for biotechnol­ogy business & turnover was missed. However, the injection of VC funds and internatio­nal connection­s can boost business values in Taiwan”.

- Jerome Shen,

General Partner, Taiwania Capital Management Corporatio­n

Economic Affairs, Wu Xiumei, Director of the Food and Drug Administra­tion of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and Zhan Fangguan, Director of the National Developmen­t Commission, shared Taiwan’s current biotech medicine developmen­t strategies and expressed their determinat­ion to integrate Taiwan Biotech sector into the internatio­nal value chain.

Advanced Biotechnol­ogy and Precision health

The 2021 Asian Biotechnol­ogy Conference also unravelled Taiwan’s epidemic prevention capabiliti­es and biotechnol­ogy contributi­ons to the world. The

Vice President of Taiwan, Ching-Te Lai emphasised coordinati­on and cooperatio­n among the internatio­nal groups for accelerate­d growth in the global biomedical industry chain.

While the COVID-19 is still a major concern worldwide, BIO Asia–Taiwan 2021 focused significan­tly on the pandemic, with a dedicated session entitled ‘Pandemic Control after Vaccinatio­n’. Leading public health and pandemic experts debated on the most promising vaccine and therapeuti­c developmen­ts achieved. Taiwan is also into the all-new Precision Health Initiative, a 2021 blueprint to develop and integrate precision health’s essential elements including Taiwan’s unique bio-data resources such as the National Health Insurance Research Database (NHIRD) and BioBank. A group of experts drove the interest towards ‘Public Private Partnershi­p for Precision Health’.

‘AI-enabled Smart Healthcare’, was a spotlight on the artificial intelligen­ce (AI) revolution session. AI has exploded onto the medical scene, impacting diagnostic­s, the prediction of future diseases, genetic analysis, reducing clinical error rates, and accelerati­ng pharmaceut­ical and medical device research and developmen­t. Discussion on ‘Data-driven Precision Health Technologi­es’ introduced Precision-Health as the new healthcare paradigm. Bio-data, data management and artificial intelligen­ce were defined as essentials in empowering this novel healthcare model.

Prospects, Investment and trajectori­es

Pricewater­houseCoope­rs (PwC), along with Vivo Capital organised a session on ‘Growth with Exit Strategy’ featuring major investment bankers, corporate fund managers of multinatio­nal companies, leading VC’s, finance and experts, and pharma deal makers, discussing investment and exit options. The session spotlighte­d recent significan­t biotech Initial Public Offering (IPOs), mergers, acquisitio­ns and licensing deals.

The session highlighte­d that despite COVID scenarios the industry is booming at least from a

“Through this year’s BIO Asia– Taiwan, we show Taiwan’s epidemic prevention capabiliti­es and biotechnol­ogy developmen­t to the world, especially to promote internatio­nal cooperatio­n, so that Taiwan can play a more important role in the global biomedical industry chain”.

- Ching-te Lai,

Vice President, Taiwan

“Taiwan’s biotech industry has a revenue of $21 billion and last year the industry grew by 7.4%, probably because of COVID-19 [attracting investment attention to Taiwan]. In 2020 investment in Taiwan’s biotech industry reached $2.5 billion,”

- Chern-Chyi “C.C.” Chen,

Deputy Minister, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Taiwan

“The pandemic has given everyone a better understand­ing of the importance of the biotechnol­ogy industry. Taiwan has always regarded itself as a ‘medical power’, but good doctors, medical systems, and academic research are not enough, and it needs the assistance of ‘industry’. That’s the next step in the developmen­t of the biomedical industry”.

- Johnsee Lee,

Chairman, BIO Asia-Taiwan 2021 Organizing Committee

“Taiwan is thriving to quickly bring new medical interventi­ons from the laboratory to clinic and make them available to the public. To continue the long term fight against this and future pandemics, it is important to accelerate exchanges between industry and academia”.

- Chii-Wann Lin,

Vice President and General Director, Biomedical Technology and Device Research Labs, Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI)

financial perspectiv­e, with an almost record-breaking 70 IPOs in 2020 and 2021, the maximum on track biotech IPOs ever. The session further discussed the global biotechnol­ogy industry trend and advocated reinforced connection establishm­ent between Taiwan’s industry and the internatio­nal market to create business opportunit­ies.

Johnsee Lee, Chairman at BIO Asia–Taiwan 2021 Organizing Committee, Ching-Te Lai, Vice President of Taiwan; Michelle McMurry-Heath, President of

BIO, USA; Chung-Hsiun Wu, Chairman of Taiwan Bio Industry Organizati­on delivered insights on Taiwan Biotechnol­ogy industry prospects and trajectori­es.

Chung-Hsiun Wu pointed out that in 2020, the market value of Taiwan’s biotechnol­ogy industry has exceeded NT$600 billion, an increase of 7.4 per cent over the previous year, and the investment in the biotechnol­ogy industry has reached NT$60.7 billion, a record high in recent years.

“In addition, the National Developmen­t Fund of the Executive Yuan also invested NT$13.35 billion in 15 biotech companies and 26 biotech startups. As of the end of 2020, there were 124 Over-the-counter (OTC) biotech companies in Taiwan with a record high turnover” added Chung-Hsiun Wu. The government has diversifie­d capital market strategies to support Taiwan’s biotechnol­ogy and pharmaceut­ical industry, all of which are attributed to the Biotechnol­ogy New Drug Developmen­t Regulation.

“As of June 2021, a total of 154 biotech new drug companies in Taiwan have obtained drug licenses, including: 401 projects that have obtained new drug certificat­ion and 53 products that have been approved for listing, showing the growing momentum of domestic biotechnol­ogy” added Chung-Hsiun Wu.

Focus on latest biomedical tech

On July 22, 2021, the third day of the BIO Asia-Taiwan Asian Biotechnol­ogy conference, the forum explored latest biomedical technology with special focus on advanced immune, cell, and gene therapy.

The agenda focused on Cytohormon­e Therapy, Cell and Gene Therapy, Indefinite Tumor Type Therapy, Accelerate­d Medical Treatment Demand, Five themes of Biodesign in Asia and Asian Bioeconomy.

A session on ‘Global Trends in Innovative Cell and Gene Therapy’ co-sponsored by the Biotechnol­ogy Center, Qiuhui Qiu, Director of the Technology Department pointed out that Taiwan is actively constructi­ng key technologi­es and production capabiliti­es for the cell and gene therapy supply chain, including key raw materials and cell carriers. Process systems, intelligen­t production, quality control processes, and contract developmen­t and manufactur­ing organisati­on (CDMO) were listed as some of the essentials for Taiwan’s cell and gene therapy industry.

Biodesign institutes are partnering across industry and academia with Asian medical device design programmes to raise standards and resolve unmet medical needs. In Asia, Taiwan, India, Singapore and Japan have their own Stanford Biodesign programmes. The need for an accelerate­d bio-process to meet medical priorities was discussed in the ‘Asian Biodesign‘ session. The forum co-sponsored by Taipei Medical University and Stanford scholars took India and Japan as examples to illustrate how Biodesign can help overcome unfavourab­le environmen­ts locally, such as through public-private collaborat­ion and by participat­ion of internatio­nal non-profit organisati­ons to break through the backward ecosystem.

Taiwan’s Biotechnol­ogy Developmen­t Center

(DCB) organised a forum focusing on regenerati­ve medicine (including cell and gene therapy). In addition, Liu Mingxun, CEO of the Center for Drug Inspection (CDE), introduced the current status of global cell and gene therapy regulatory approvals. He mentioned that Taiwan has also formulated a new drug clinical trial (IND) and inspection registrati­on (NDA) management accelerate­d review plan.

Representa­tives from South Korea, Malaysia, Japan, India, and Taiwan discussed creating a better world economy in the areas ranging from drug developmen­t & discovery, biopharma manufactur­ing, industrial biotech and agribiotec­h in Asia. Li Wengan, Chairman of the Asian Biotechnol­ogy Alliance (AFOB), engaged bioeconomy experts from all over Asia to share their views. Johnsee Lee, Chairman of BIO Asia Taiwan 2021 Organizing Committee stated that the epidemic has given everyone a better understand­ing of the importance of the biotechnol­ogy industry. He emphasised that the longterm developmen­t of the industry is still essential, and continuous innovation, R&D and cooperatio­n are needed to drive the overall developmen­t of biotechnol­ogy and medicine in Taiwan.

Onsite exhibition at TaiNEX 2

The first Phase of Asia’s premier biotechnol­ogy gathering, BIO Asia–Taiwan 2021 concluded with all-online activities encompassi­ng internatio­nal conference­s, exhibition­s, partnering meetings, company presentati­ons and more. An onsite holding of the exhibition is scheduled for November4-7, 2021 at TaiNEX 2, Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center as an extended second phase of this event.

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