Thinker Insights | Simcere Innovation
Simcere Innovation, Inc. is an innovation center of Simcere (Top 10 Innovative Pharmaceutical Enterprise in China). It is located in Cambridge, MA, and focuses on the research and development of life-changing therapies for patients by utilizing cutting-edge technology, including cell and gene therapy. CUBIC talks with Dr. Shawn Xu, the Managing Partner of Simcere Innovation, to discuss about the life sciences trend post Covid-19 pandemic, the innovation stories, the collaboration synergies, and the future expectations of Simcere Innovation.
Q: The global pandemic Covid-19 drove China and the world to have some new understanding of life sciences. What do you think will be the important impacts on China's life sciences industry?
A: As the global pandemic continues to escalate, various industries are facing unprecedented challenges. Covid-19 occurred early but controlled quickly in China. Even if it is very influential, it will also have many positive effects. 1) This outbreak has accelerated China’s investment in life sciences, especially in basic research and infectious disease research; 2) Vaccines are also receiving much attention due to the outbreak. And thus, vaccine research will reach a new level. 3) International cooperation of public health will be enhanced; 4) Accelerate the digital transformation of the industry.
Q: In terms of R&D in the life sciences field, there is still a big gap between China and developed countries. What do you think will be the major breakthroughs in China's biopharmaceutical/medical device/digital health fields in the next 5-10 years? What are the promising directions?
A: The pharmaceutical industry in China is still in the stage of transformation from "generic drug" to "innovative drug". The past 10 years was the period of rapid development of pharmaceutical industry and innovative drug research. With the support of policies, the internationalization of regulations, and the improvement of talents and technology platforms, the next 5-10 years will be a small peak for the development and launch of innovative drugs in China. Digital health, Internet medicine, cell and gene therapy, and personalized medicine will be promising areas in the future.
Q: After the pandemic, would Simcere Innovation have any adjustments in its strategy/direction?
A: Simcere Innovation is a R&D company. The current impact of pandemic on us is relatively small. There is no need to adjust our strategy and direction so far.
Q: What do you think are the main innovations of the Simcere Innovation? What are the areas/projects of your interest?
A: Simcere Innovation, located in Cambridge, MA at the Cambridge Discovery Park, specializes in the R&D of life-changing therapies by advancing cutting-edge cell and gene technologies. Currently, we have established several cutting-edge technology platforms and have ~10 R&D assets in our research pipeline.
Q: What kind of cooperation models does the Simcere Innovation have with North American/European projects?
A: Simcere Innovation was established last year and external innovation are our important strategies, such as in-licensing, joint development and external collaboration with research institutes. In addition, to inspire innovation, Simcere Innovation employs a unique operational model called "Internal Entrepreneurial Partner", which is an open innovation model that integrates R&D, investment, and incubation. It attracts senior entrepreneurial scientists with enthusiasm and ideas to join as our partners, while Simcere Innovation provides them with a large platform to achieve their dreams. With continuous capital investment, provision of laboratory facilities and other full-industry chain services, Simcere Innovation is able to effectively promote innovation and grow.
Q: As a Chinese background company expanding to the United States, do you think what are the unique experiences to share? What do you think is the most important resource (talents, innovation environment, partners, financial support, etc.)? And what are your expectations for the future?
A: The United States is the world's largest pharmaceutical market, which currently occupies more than 40% of the global pharmaceutical market and contributes more than 50% of the world's innovative drug R&D pipelines. It is also a "hub" for global biotech companies and top biotech talents. The establishment of R&D centers by Chinese pharmaceutical companies in the United States is an important step in the innovation and internationalization strategy. But the challenge is still great to achieve success. I think the important thing is that the domestic headquarter in China cannot consider the overseas company as an internal overseas R&D center and manage with Chinese thinking and Chinese managemental model. We must consider both Chinese and the US markets, establish localized companies, local operating systems andregulations, and company cultures, etc. In addition, we need fully comply with US laws and compliance, such as, CFIUS. At the same time, the source of talents should also be diversified. The life sciences industry is a life-saving industry and I . hope that any changes in US-China relationship will have a smaller impact on these companies in US.
Meet with the Thinker
As a founding member, Dr. Xu successful established Simcere Innovation, Inc. in Boston in 2019, dedicating to research and development of advanced cell and gene therapies for patients. He is responsible for overseeing the overall operations of the company in Boston, developing and implementing Simcere Innovation’s strategies, including innovation models, internal R&D strategy and external innovation. In addition, he works closely with Simcere Pharmaceutic Group’s management team in China and BD team in US for the corporate’s R&D strategies and oversea external opportunities, including in-licensing and investment. Dr. Xu has almost 20 years’ experience in the top pharmaceutical industries and academic institute, including Johnson & Johnson, Hengrui Medicine and the University of Rochester. He led and participated in 30+ R&D projects of discoveries and early development in cell therapies, biologics and small molecule drugs, including several compounds are at IND and clinical development stages. Dr. Xu received his PhD from the Peking Union Medical College and Chinese Academy Medical Science, and he did postdoc training at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Founded in 1995, Simcere is a research and development-driven Chinese pharmaceutical company with a State Key Lab of Translational Medicine and Innovative Drug Development approved by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology. It has been continuously recognized as one of the "Top 10 Innovative Pharmaceutical Enterprise in China" and "Top 100 Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Enterprises" of China. Simcere achieves this by focusing its efforts on therapeutic areas of oncology, neurology, immunology diseases etc. By leverage of its commercial capability, all top products of the company have a leading market share in China. Simcere continues to promote the advance of international scientific and medical breakthroughs through an open and collaborative R&D strategy, and extensive strategic partnerships with several multi-national companies.