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AstraZeneca Makes Shanghai a Global R&D Centre

by Mark Hedley
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AstraZeneca’s new Shanghai R&D centre is helping to make the city one of the world’s most high-tech biopharmaceutical hubs

At the opening ceremony of International Biopharma Industry Week Shanghai on 11 October, CEO of AstraZeneca, Pascal Soriot, announced the inauguration of its newly-upgraded global R&D centre. As reported by Yicai Global, at the ceremony Soriot said that the new centre has introduced “state-of-the-art technologies and expanded our R&D team to reflect [its] increasing importance within our global network.” The centre will not only bring innovative new medicines to China, but will speed up R&D and clinical trials of new medicines for China and abroad.

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Speaking at the same event, Dr He Jing, senior vice president and head of R&D China, said: “Our R&D pipeline in China currently has more than 120 projects under development, of which more than 85% are being developed simultaneously with our global pipeline… This year, we have established a translational medicine team and a digital and data innovation team, and the overall number of R&D personnel has increased by more than 20% year-on-year.”

Alongside the upgraded R&D centre, AstraZeneca has also launched the Shanghai International Life Science Innovation Campus (also known as the Shanghai iCampus), which aims to bring together academic and industry resources to help Chinese and international startups in the fields of Medical AI and digital therapy.

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The inauguration of AstraZeneca’s R&D centre comes at a time when the Shanghai government is putting an emphasis to make the city a world-class hub for the biopharmaceutical industry. As China.org reported, in May 2021, the municipal government issued a three-year action plan aiming to boost the annual output of the biopharma industry to RMB 180 billion.

A couple of months later, the Central Committee and the State Council issued another set of guidelines supporting the high-level reform and opening up of the Pudong New Area in Shanghai, including corporate income tax reductions of 10% (down to 15% from a universal rate of 25%) for the first five years following business registration for companies in key industries like biopharma. The guidelines also give a boost to science and technology research, exempting research institutions from import duties on research equipment.

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AstraZeneca first entered the Chinese market in 1993 and has since become the largest multinational pharmaceutical company in the country, with its headquarters in Shanghai and regional headquarters in cities including Beijing and Guangzhou. China is not only AstraZeneca’s second-largest market, accounting for USD 5.4 billion of sales in 2020, but also a key destination for its research and innovation. Since the 1990s, the company has invested more than USD 1 billion in R&D, and developed eight new medicines in cooperation with partners in China.

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