Hong Kong’s Biotech Ambitions

Hong Kong’s Biotech Ambitions

The doors to biotechnology investing in the city are swinging further open in light of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange’s new listing regime and greater funding. Opportunities abound for anyone in the world offering high-quality products and services in China, according to leading executives gathered at a recent KPMG Capital Markets Life Sciences Forum.

illustration of DNA

For years a gateway to the mainland for overseas companies, Hong Kong has positioned itself as a capital markets hub for the biotech industry. The city has also been instrumental in helping mainland companies reach international investors through local listings.

Hong Kong’s world-class research institutions and its hundreds of high-impact biomedical publications every year indicate the foundation for this new focus is strong. Combined with its sophisticated healthcare system and tens of billions of government dollars allocated to promote innovation and technology, Hong Kong is ideally poised to thrive in biotech.

The positioning comes as the life sciences industry booms on the mainland, now the second-largest market for the sector globally. As the country grows wealthier and sees improved living conditions while its population ages and the incidence of various diseases rises, innovations as well as entrepreneurship and investment are proliferating.

The ingredients for a good business investment include strong science and sound management. Platform technologies in particular enhance the odds of creating value, coupled with a savvy go-tomarket strategy. And trusting relationships are essential, especially when political headwinds appear.

Partnering and collaboration in the life sciences industry such as licensing of rights and co-development facilitate access to external innovation, and can hasten the delivery of products to international markets. Hong Kong has evolved beyond being merely an investor; it actively enables innovative technologies to be further developed for and reach the greater China market. The city plays this pivotal role against the backdrop of a transparent and internationally recognised legal system.

Yet amid the vast potential in the life sciences, intellectual property concerns persist. Changes are under way in Hong Kong to better assure investors that their work will be protected. In addition, a more streamlined approval process for clinical trials should be encouraged, for this could prove the difference between accessing a highly sought patient base and not.

In the Greater Bay Area, which lays claim to some 70 million people, tax policies and business registration rules are being introduced to ease corporate deal-making. Consistent government funding will remain an integral part of biotech’s growth, notably for risky, earlystage research. Does Hong Kong have what it takes to realise its ambitions? Nurturing a robust biotech ecosystem calls for more than good science, talent and capital. It also requires time, perseverance, trust and vision.

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