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May 17, 2017

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A ‘magnet’ for research and development

AFTER living in the US for 22 years, Larry Zhang was posted to Singapore in 2009 for a working assignment.

He and his family moved to Shanghai in July 2011 after Zhang was appointed chief executive officer of Novartis Sandoz China. Last October, he was named vice president, head of public affairs and corporate responsibility, Novartis Group (China).

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your personal life and career in Shanghai?

A: I work for Novartis Group (China), involved with public affairs and corporate responsibility programs. My wife and I have three children, aged 5, 8 and 10. In my free time, I love to ski, read and listen to music. When I think of Shanghai, the words “innovation, diversity, inclusion and vibrancy” come to mind.

Q: What changes in Shanghai in the past five years have impressed you most?

A: The accelerated pace of innovation. Nowadays, innovation has expanded to overall development of this city, down to communities and individuals.

Shanghai has become a pioneer of market reform, institutional innovation and entrepreneurship. Innovation is rooted in the mindset of Shanghai citizens.

Q: The Shanghai government want to build the city into a global hub for research and development. How do you view that goal?

A: Shanghai has made remarkable progress in its development of innovation in science and technology. Policies and regulations has been implemented to nurture innovation, including initiatives like the biological import pilot project in Zhangjiang. Shanghai has become a magnet for research and development professional talents from both home and abroad.

Q: In the past five years, what are the breakthroughs Novartis has achieved in China, especially in Shanghai?

A: Novartis is committed to the discovery of new ways to improve and extend people’s lives. In China, we are devoted to making a positive impact on the health and well-being of people, with our diversified portfolios, strong local investment and trusted partnerships with multiple stakeholders.

In recent years, the Shanghai government has unveiled many initiatives to advance the development of the healthcare industry. The establishment of innovative access models is one example that has had a profound impact for the industry players like Novartis. It not only ensures local citizens the access to the innovative drugs, but it also promotes greater enthusiasm and prospects for innovation in pharmaceutical sector.

Q: What unique opportunities or challenges does Shanghai offer?

A: Shanghai’s unique advantages include the concentration of leading universities, research institutions, hospitals and professional talent. The city has six biomedical industrial bases, including Zhangjiang High-Tech Park, the largest new drug research and development center in China, along with a number of high-quality laboratories. Shanghai has become a thriving global platform for capital, industry and talent, making the city well positioned to become a world-leading center of innovation, science and technology. The healthcare industry is complex. The key challenge lies in how to create and implement an ecosystem so that stakeholders like the government, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and medical insurance companies can work seamlessly to advance medical innovation and reimbursement models.

Q: Could you please share with us some information about the operation of the Novartis research and development campus in Shanghai?

A: The campus, located in the Zhangjiang Science Park, marks Novartis’ third main hub for drug research and is strong testament to our deep commitment to China. The campus enables us to address evolving local health needs in a more prompt manner. It also serves as a hub for sharing our expertise with local research institutions.

Q: What should Shanghai do to make even greater progress in the next five years?

A: Shanghai has witnessed tremendous progress in recent few years. To make the upcoming five years even better, we would suggest the city promote an environment that develops talent and open communications, invest in research and development, ensure a well-designed regulatory system, and create a sustainable market access system that rewards innovation.


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