BIO Asia-Taiwan 2019 – Biotech as the Next Growth Engine for Asia

BIO Asia, first time in Taiwan, co-organized by Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and Taiwan Bio Industry Organization (Taiwan BIO), has kicked off in Taipei on July 24th with the Conference, One-on-One Partnering, and Company Presentations first, and the Exhibition starting on July 25th. With more than 45 talks and over 1,500 participants from over 25 countries, and 1,700 booths by 600 exhibiting companies, BIO Asia-Taiwan has become an important milestone of global recognition for Taiwan’s biotech and healthcare industries.

Dr. Johnsee Lee, Chairman of Taiwan BIO, assured that Taiwan has a great potential for establishing ecosystem for biotechnology and healthcare based on its strong information and communications technology (ICT), and will become the next driving force for Asia as well as for the global biotech ecosystem during his opening welcome speech.

Johnsee Lee, Chairman of Taiwan BIO

Mr. James C. Greenwood, President and CEO of BIO, first introduced BIO as a representative of its 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers, and related organizations across the US and in more than 30 countries in areas such as research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, and industrial and environmental biotechnology products with a mission to promote global collaborations among innovators, investors, academic institutes, and biotech organizations. Then, he mentioned it was tremendous that Taiwan BIO had organized over 400 people to attend the BIO International 2019 in Philadelphia, US earlier this year, so the world had the chance to realize that Taiwan not only has great potential but also has great innovations to become one of the leading nations in biotechnology and especially in healthcare as the National Healthcare System has stored medical data for nearly 30 years. He also shared that although the US innovates 15% of the world’s new drugs each year, but it would take 10-15 years and spend over 2.5 billions USD to develop a new medicine, so  biotech industry could be a high-risk but also high-reward industry as 92% biotech companies didn’t make any revenue for the first decade.  Global biopharma pipeline has been driven mainly by small biotech companies that 70% of all 5,293 clinical programs have been provided by small companies, so the bio-ecosystem in the US would encourage smaller companies to take the risks to innovate while the larger companies could commercialize the innovations into products. As building a strong biotech sector has become a strategic priority for many global economies, Greenwood concluded by emphasizing that “in biotechnology, we simply must be collaborators before we can be competitors.”

James C. Greenwood, President and CEO of BIO

 

Towards Accelerated Medical Innovations: Learning from the Nature

Followed by Dr. Jeff Karp from Harvard Medical School & MIT Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who indicated two key points for accelerated medical innovations in his speech:

  1. Bioinspiration: break free from the conventional repetitive approaches,  and obtain basic ideas from the nature the improve on from there as solutions may just be around us all the time. 
  2. Radical simplicity: consider full translational spectrum and aim for simple through all steps.

Dr. Karp also provided some examples from his own medical innovation developing experiences. One of them was how Frequency Therapeutics developed a hearing regeneration drug, in which small molecules were designed to activate progenitor cells and trigger formation of new hair cells in the inner ear.

Oncology Treatments – Creating Decision Driven Insights

Cancer has been the most threatening disease in the world, but almost 30% of all cancer can actually be prevented, thus cancer prevention and research have become very important. Mr. David Fuller MBBS, Senior Vice President of Clinical Development at (JAPAC) Syneos Health, mentioned that oncology data after World War II has risen exponentially because of the biotech companies, for example, related publications has grown from 20,000 to 180,000 since 1940. However, there have been too many clinical trials but not enough patients since only 3-5% of all cancer patients would participated in clinical trials.   He then pointed out how the big data might help in this case.

Mr. Fuller introduced DEEP 6 AI to us, which said could match patients for clinical trials in minutes rather than months. However, challenges for applying big data such as availability, data type & intensity, data cost, technical infrastructure for movement, manipulation & management of data, data sharing, data standard, retention/reuse, validation and clinical translation, etc. still need to be solved.   

From left to right: David Fuller, Katherine Andersen, James C. Greenwood, Tsung-Tsong Wu, Johnsee Lee, Jeff Karp, Monica He

Biotech Investments: Asia’s Emerging Role in Global Life Science and Healthcare

Ms. Monica He, director of International Affairs at BIO, then followed to present. The rise of Asia in the global biotech ecosystem could be seen in VC fundings, IPOs, out-licensing of novel molecules, and share of global clinical pipelines.

Number of molecules under development from merging Biopharma Companies (EBC) has grown 15% a year for the past two years. Global biotechnology market growth has been predicted  to increase from 440 billion to 775 billion USD from 2018 to 2024, especially a robust growth in Asia-Pacific region can be seen. Asia region has shared 15.5% of global VC Fundings in 2018, a major growing from 2.3% in 2009, while global share of  IPOs also have grown from 7% in 2009 to 36% in 2018.

Establishing a competitive bio-economy has already became a global race. Ms.He concluded her speech  by underlining three key points of innovational bio-economy: First, make science a priority,  second, set up national multi-sector biotech development plans, and third, also the most important one, encourage entrepreneurship.

Last one on the stage was Ms. Katherine Andersen, head of Life Science & Healthcare Relationship Banking at Silicon Valley Bank, who indicated that Asia’s emerging role in global life science and healthcare has been very  important. There has been a 8% growth on listed companies and a 14% growth in market capital from 2009 to 2019 in Asia (a 11% growth on listed companies in Taiwan). Foreign investments into the public markets have been growing rapidly that there was a 30% growth in the last 5 years, and the growth of US investments into Asia was 2 times more than invested in Europe.

Biopharma sector continues to take the largest portion of public companies in Asia, but fundings in digital health has also start to take off, thus public oncology companies in Taiwan have also been valued up. The US and the European started to show more interests in Taiwan’s innovation ecosystem as Taiwan has been one of the fastest growing public market in Asia.

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