In recent years, we have been seeing unprecedented changes in the biopharmaceutical R&D landscape. There’s an increasing need to produce innovative medicines to meet the diverse medical challenges of a world where access to healthcare is becoming a higher public priority. At AstraZeneca we’ve re-organized our approach to R&D over the past 18 months and are building-up significant new momentum. One example is our new R&D facility, which will open at AstraZeneca’s new campus in Shanghai, China within the next few months.
Increasingly, global pharma companies are aiming to source innovative R&D in emerging markets that can inform their global operations. At first glance, this shift may seem to be driven by a desire to simply reduce costs. But the reality is very different. China and other emerging economies such as Poland, Russia and India offer underutilised pools of talented scientists who are on par with their peers internationally as drivers of innovation. This point of view was recently echoed by Klaus Schwab, chairman of the World Economic Forum.
At AstraZeneca, China and the rest of Asia are already important parts of our global R&D strategy. We have around 900 people working in R&D across the region and are one of the few multinational companies with internal research operations in China, India and Japan. These teams work in close collaboration with a wide range of top-notch academic and industry partners who help us do much more than we could ever do alone. This vibrant innovation ecosystem is rapidly evolving as our industry peers also ‘ramp-up’ their investments in the East.
Against this backdrop, the world’s emerging countries face unique medical challenges. Again using Asia as an example, diseases most prevalent in this part of the world are, on the whole, under-addressed. This is compounded by the rise of chronic diseases that used to be more common in the ‘West’. By 2025, Asia-Pacific is expected to have more than 60% of all diabetes cases. Stomach, lung and liver cancers are more prevalent with higher mortality rates in Asian patients according to the World Health Organisation. And even though tuberculosis is a curable disease, it claims nearly 2 million lives every year, one third of which are in India. The list goes on.
We are focusing our Asia research efforts within these and other disease areas where we see the greatest unmet medical needs – and the biggest potential to make a meaningful difference for patients.
I think that the true value of LabTalk lies in creating a platform for dialogue in innovation. So, we want you to get involved.
How do you see the global R&D landscape changing in the coming years?
Will the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) truly deliver innovation?
Can we continue to invest in innovation to ensure great ideas are brought to fruition?
What can more established R&D nations learn from countries like China?
What are the obstacles to success and the guarantees for failure?
There’s an old Chinese saying:
“three humble shoemakers sharing ideas will make a great statesman.”
With your comments and ideas to this and future blog posts, we hope this space will become a genuine ‘go to’ point for the scientific and R&D communities. Together in dialogue, like the humble shoemakers, we can become great statesmen in innovation.