BioTaiwan 2018: Catching A Glimpse of Biotech Business in Asia
Taipei witnessed probably the biggest biotech and pharmaceutical gala event that took place in two sections – BioBusiness Asia 2018, from July 18-20, 2018; followed by, Bio-Taiwan Exhibition, from July 21-22, 2018. BioBusiness Asia 2018 saw insightful perspectives from financial and research point of view equally. We summarize, some of the interesting sessions during this event to understand current scenario and future opportunities of the biotech and pharma business in 2018.
By Ajay Vitthal Patil
Understanding the economics of biotech business in Asia
In the first session of day one, Joseph Damond, Executive VP, international affairs from Biotechnology Innovation Organization gave a global perspective on biotech innovation in the context of development of industry in Taiwan. He also emphasized on the importance of Taiwan’s focus on global biotech market in long term in addition to local industry support. Talks from, Reenita Das, Senior Partner and SVP, Frost and Sullivan and Miron Lila, Director, Asia Healthcare Investment Banking, Citigroup put out the key aspects of biotech business in Asia and opportunities which Taiwan can uniquely benefit from. In her talk, Reenita Das mentioned healthcare challenges including, economically unsustainable system, accuracy gaps between clinical tests and the need for increasing dependence on evidence based medicine. She also explained, use of internet trends in healthcare, smartphone driven transition care delivery and the benefits of merging the biotech silo model with clinical operations in Asia. Miron Lila, elaborated on current strategies employed by biotech companies to develop and survive with complex products in the pipeline. He cited industry reforms and Asia’s reemergence in the global healthcare economy. He cited rising trends in public-private investments and illustrated some key issues which seek improvement in coming future like need for capital market growth and consolidation as well as regulatory improvements in order to effectively raise capital for biotech businesses in Asia.
Taiwan’s Biotech Strengths and Infrastructure development
Fong Chin Su, CEO, Biomed Taiwan and Deputy Minister, Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan, revealed key strengths of Taiwan’s biotech potential for future growth. He illustrated updates on ‘comprehensive bio-industrial clusters’ composed of multiple biotech and scientific parks across Taiwan (Nankang biotech park, Neihu technology park, Hsinchu science and biomedical parks, Central Taiwan science park, Southern Taiwan science park). He also highlighted clinical prowess of Taiwan with 14 of the hospitals being ranked among the top 200 global hospitals, Taiwan clinical trial consortium and PIC/S-GMP specifications. Besides this, availability of skilled human resource and conducive government support for industrial development provides Taiwan edge over many other players in Asia. Rising interest from mature and thriving electronics and semiconductor industry in the healthcare sector avails great platform for innovation and startups.
Shedding light on product and process development
Dr. Wei-Shou Hu, University of Minnesota shared some vital lessons from his experiences in bioprocess development. He mainly focused on factors affecting reproducibility of biological product. He gave an analysis on research issues like clonal variability and explained that even smaller factors collectively affect the product (antibody) and process development during scale up process. His lessons about process calibrations resulting from evolving technology were both informative and delightful, especially to the scientific audience. He provided enlightening reasoning for appropriate and timely communication between the research and financial arms of biotech ventures.
During company presentations, Andrew Chang, VP, Quality and Regulatory Compliance, Novo Nordisk and Former FDA Executive, explained challenges and importance of maintaining approval standards during the development of biosimilars and also the pharmcovigilance aspect. Joe McCracken, VP Business Development of Alkahest; Former Head of Global Business Development & Licensing of Roche-Genentech, elaborated interesting episode of Genentech’s collaboration in Taiwan with TaiMed on the development of Trogarzo. He acknowledged that, Taiwan’s quality workforce, well equipped hospitals and universities and cost effective services are among few important factors that will uplift Taiwan’s biotech industry. Tong Guo, Vice President & Head of Business Development, Greater China, IQVIA, spoke about IQVIA’s strengths in the area of clinical trial design and conduct with the help of new technology and datasets. He also mentioned about the use of artificial intelligence and deep learning tools in solving key challenges like proper recruitment of patients which match the protocol, streamlining activation of right sites and identifying credible and new investigators. Kazem Kazempour, President and CEO, Amarex Clinical Research, mentioned that, as of July 9, 2018, about 5462 trials are being sponsored and 997 trials are currently being recruited by Taiwanese companies. He advised on developing customized strategy for successful FDA approvals, and gave a few important pointers on FDA expedited programs and accelerated approvals. He also commented on formulating enrichment strategies and adaptive design of clinical trials for biologics. Lance Wong, Managing Director, Strand Bio, gave important inputs on development timelines and financial factors during the development of complex biologics like, CART cells and oncolytic viruses.
Besides these presentation summaries mentioned here, BioBusiness Asia Conference 2018 saw various fascinating presentations from key thought leaders during interdisciplinary sessions like novel developments in precision medicine technology, nurturing innovation and startups through creative investments, IPO and M&A, cross strait collaborations and opportunities in Southeast Asia.
Bio-Taiwan Exhibition – July 19-22, 2018
In the end of this happening gala, more than 200 companies gathered during Bio-Taiwan Exhibition 2018. Several companies from pharma, biotech, POC, healthcare, supplement, cosmetics and packaging industries, unveiled their products during this weekend exhibition. Technology transfer presentations from renowned universities and research institutes such as Academia Sinica, National Taiwan University, National Tsing Hua University, Taipei Medical University, and other institutes attracted many professionals across industry and academia.
In a nutshell, Bio-Taiwan 2018 provided probably the best platform for Taiwanese and Asian biotech, pharma and healthcare industries to – facilitate technology transfer, identify new global opportunities, consolidate collaborations and most importantly foresee the developments that are shaping up in real time.
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