Invest in China: Innovation drive in health sector boosts multinationals' confidence in Chinese market

BEIJING, April 5 (Xinhua) — With a sizable consumer base and a relentless drive for innovation, China’s healthcare market has extended its allure to global enterprises, prompting many to expand their investments and boost their footprint.
According to Milind Pant, CEO of Amway Corp., a multinational specializing in health and wellness, China has remained the company’s largest, fastest-growing and most important strategic market for over 20 years.
Amway China has seen a sales growth of 7 percent annually on average over the past three years, Pant said, adding that the company will continue to invest in China.
Last year, the company announced an investment of 600 million yuan (about 84.57 million U.S. dollars) in transforming and upgrading its production base in south China’s Guangzhou, and it plans to invest in its first organic farm in China this year.
“China’s advantage presented by complete industry chains and innovative ecosystems are now widely recognized and highly regarded by multinationals,” Pant said.
Bill Anderson, CEO of Bayer, a German pharmaceutical and agribusiness giant, echoed similar sentiments, emphasizing China’s significance as a key market and a vital hub for innovation for the company.
He said that China has outstanding universities, a great source of talent and rapidly developing scientific innovation enterprises.
In 2023, Bayer inaugurated an open innovation center in Yizhuang in southern Beijing, and it plans to establish a China center for innovation and partnership in Shanghai in 2024.
This year, China has put developing new quality productive forces, featuring high-tech, high efficiency and high quality, on top of its agenda. Consequently, foreign-invested companies in the health sector are taking proactive steps to capitalize on this shift.
Pascal Soriot, CEO of British biopharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, described this shift as “tremendously exciting and important in the field of healthcare.”
For over 30 years, the company has maintained a presence in China and during this period, the country has emerged as a significant growth engine, Soriot noted.
“We are here because China is at the forefront of using artificial intelligence (AI), biotechnology and renewable energy to shape the future of healthcare, and we believe that Chinese-born innovation can help millions of patients worldwide,” he said.
AstraZeneca recently concluded an agreement to invest 475 million U.S. dollars in the construction of a new small molecule factory in Wuxi in east China’s Jiangsu Province, which will focus on sustainable manufacturing. Last year, it announced an investment of 700 million U.S. dollars for an inhaled medicine manufacturing site in Qingdao.
Christophe Weber, president and CEO of Takeda, said that data and digital technologies, including AI, will continue to play an important role in reshaping healthcare ecosystems.
Last year, Takeda launched the Digital Innovation Academy with Fudan University’s Intelligent Medicine Institute to promote the integration of digital products into the research and development process for medicines.
China announced the launch of the “artificial intelligence plus” initiative at the annual sessions of the country’s top legislature and top political advisory body, also known as the “two sessions,” held in March.
According to Zhang Qingjie, head of digital enablement and head of AI at KPMG China, multinationals can take advantage by forging cooperation with Chinese firms on digital economy and AI technologies to gain a better understanding of the Chinese market and its technological environment as well as share China’s innovation achievements.
“We are making targeted investments in data, digital and technology in China to unleash the power of new technology for the future of health care,” Weber said, China is well equipped to expand its digital healthcare ecosystem in order to enhance health outcomes and boost patient accessibility. Enditem