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international focus.

China and Opportunities in RegenMed

By Mike Raxworthy, Operations Director, Regener8 and CEO, Neotherix Ltd Mike Raxworthy

When someone mentions China today, I wonder what thoughts first come to your mind – the Beijing Olympics (and the Bird’s Nest)? Each Chinese year represented by an animal (we are currently in the year of the Rabbit)? The population of 1.3 billion people, with one out of every five people in the world being Chinese? Recently, China has been emerging as a major player in scientific research in general and over the past 20 years, publications in the scientific literature have increased by nearly 4500%. By comparison, the scientific publication output of the United States has increased by “only” 532% over the same period.

The same rate of growth is being mirrored in the field of regenerative medicine. Recently, McMahon et al (2010) reported that China published 1116 articles on stem cells in the international literature in 2008 compared to 37 in 2000 (an increase of over 2900%) and that in 2008, China was the fifth largest stem cell contributor behind USA, Germany, Japan and the UK (see Figure 1). Given this trend, China would now be expected to have overtaken the UK and Japan and possibly also Germany.

The rapid growth recorded is of course no accident. China increased the proportion of GDP spent on science and technology from $5,917m in 1996 to $43,986m in 2007 and has declared regenerative medicine and tissue engineering to be priority areas. Hot spots of RegenMed research and technology have been identified in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Changsha, Chongqing and Shenzhen. Most of these groups will have access to central funding through the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Science and Technology. RegenMed centres at Shanghai (National Tissue Engineering Research Center), Beijing (Peking University Stem Cell Research Center) and Guangzhou (South China Institute of Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine) have reputations for high quality research. Regions and provinces have the autonomy to develop particular business sectors in which they excel and this has resulted in focused investment in manufacturing and in the nurturing of advanced technologies. Further funds are available through the national High-Tech Industrial Development Zone programme. Guangzhou for example has invested RMB 2bn (£200m) in the Bio-Island infrastructure project for the commercialisation of biotech R&D. The BioBay nano- and biotech incubator in Suzhou is another excellent example with many international companies able to attract significant central, municipal and provincial government support.


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