Biomedicine sector showing potential for growth

By Yuan Shenggao (China Daily)

Updated: 2021-05-07


Yang Xia, founder and chairwoman of Jinbo Biology, shows models of recombined human-origin collagen to staff members during a company training session. [Photo by Wu Liuhong for China Daily]

As one of the 14 strategic emerging industries in Shanxi province, the biomedicine sector is showing great potential for growth thanks to improved innovation capabilities among local players.

Among many new medicine releases into the market, the recombined human-origin collagen III developed by Taiyuan-based Jinbo Biology is among the most remarkable because of its globally advanced level.

Yang Xia, founder and board chairwoman of Jinbo Biology, said the company is the only enterprise in the world that mass produces the medicine. Its volume production began in January.

"Unlike other industries, the research and development of new medicines needs more time-at least 10 years," Yang said. "This requires a company to consistently invest in R&D and continuously improve its innovative strength."

However, even with huge amounts of investment and a time-consuming process, the success rate of new medicine development is only about 10 percent, Yang said.

"In the R&D of recombined human-origin collagen III, we made our breakthrough in the lab after numerous failures over more than 1,000 days," Yang said. "It takes a couple of years to commercialize the lab results and another couple of years to realize mass production."

For the commercialization of the new medicine, Jinbo Biology has invested about 250 million yuan ($38.6 million) in building a technology transfer center.

"With this center in place, we can develop medicine varieties that can be applied to different scenarios ranging from surgery, gynecology and dermatology to skin care cosmetics," Yang explained.

Despite the huge investment and uncertainties in the long R&D period, Yang said she is still optimistic about the biomedicine industry in Shanxi because the market environment is friendly thanks to strong support from the government.

"Innovative industries like biomedicine are prioritized in China and the State has recently issued a number of preferential policies for them," said Ma Jingbo, an official at the Shanxi Department of Industry and Information Technology.

He noted that Shanxi has offered further incentives for such industries.

For instance, the Shanxi Department of Industry and Information Technology has set aside a special fund to award companies with strong investment in R&D.

"Companies with more than 20 percent growth in annual R&D investment are eligible for awards from the fund," Ma explained, adding that biomedicine companies with constant growth in R&D investment are the major beneficiaries of such a policy.

Other supportive measures from the local government include promoting collaborations between enterprises and research institutions, encouraging the sharing of public R&D facilities and labs, protecting intellectual property rights, and helping enterprises recruit and foster R&D professionals.

"The protection of IPR is of great significance for high-tech companies like Jinbo Biology," Yang said.

Jinbo Biology is the holder of 23 invention patents, including two international patents. The company has been recognized as a State-level high-tech enterprise for four consecutive years, according to Yang.

Wang Pei contributed to this story.