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November 5, 2016

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Roche unlocks innovation potential in Shanghai

SWISS-HEADQUARTERED pharmaceutical giant Roche yesterday officially kicked off the construction of its 860 million yuan (US$126.5 million) Innovation Center in Shanghai at its Zhangjiang campus, showcasing its long term commitment to driving innovation in China.

Plan for the Roche Innovation Center Shanghai was announced in 2015. Construction is expected to be completed in 2018. It will have an area of 14,000 square meters and 220 modular work areas.

The center will focus on research and early development of innovative drugs in Infectious, Immunology and Inflammation Diseases Discovery and Translational Area (I3 DTA) to address the unmet needs of Chinese and global patients.

“We acknowledge the progress China is making in improving healthcare. The Chinese market is always an important part of Roche Group’s global strategy,” said Dr Severin Schwan, CEO of Roche Group.

Roche has been a pioneer among multinational drug companies. As early as 2004 it set up a fully owned research institute in Shanghai. Over the past 12 years, it has built a large team consisting of outstanding scientists across all scientific disciplines in research and early development.

Established in Zhangjiang in 1994, Shanghai Roche Pharmaceuticals Ltd was one of the first multinational enterprises in Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park. Over the past 22 years, Roche has made significant investment in Shanghai.

Roche’s Shanghai site has developed into a powerhouse, covering a full pharmaceutical chain spanning from early stage research to development, manufacturing, and commercialization of innovative medicines in China.

“Thanks to the rapid development of the Chinese economy and strong support from the local government, Roche has made outstanding achievements in China,” Dr Schwan said.

“Roche always believes that its innovation and R&D efforts here must be ‘in China and for China.’ We will deliver on our commitment to drive innovation in China and ultimately contribute to China’s economic development.”

Roche has been striving to make Shanghai its third strategic center in the world, after Basel in Switzerland, and San Francisco in the United States, as it works to shore up the whole industry value chain in international standards and promote R&D and innovation throughout the Chinese pharmaceutical industry.

“Following our purpose of ‘Doing now what patients need next,’ Roche is committed to introducing world-class technology and bolstering the development of top-level R&D capacities in China,” said Hong Chow, General Manager of Shanghai Roche Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

“The enhanced R&D activities will effectively facilitate collaboration between Roche and local research institutions, and lure the world’s top research talent to China. We believe that locally-developed innovative drugs will benefit patients in China and in the world,” she said.

In recent years, the Roche Shanghai R&D center has developed new medicines that are expected to cure patients with hepatitis B. The new medicines will combine two mechanisms to jointly fight hepatitis B virus, including a targeted therapy to battle the virus and another therapy to activate the immune system.

Stella Xu, head of Roche Innovation Center Shanghai, is upbeat about leveraging local scientific research to serve global patients.

“The novel HBV drug candidates that our scientists have discovered demonstrate clearly the excellent innovation capability of Roche Innovation Center Shanghai. The new investment in our center will help Shanghai as well as China to grow into a leading innovation player globally,” Xu said.

At the groundbreaking ceremony, rendering and the 3D model of the laboratory was unveiled for the first time, displaying its advanced design concepts and top-notch technical standards.

Roche took more than a year to finalize the blueprint of the center with careful pre-planning and refined design leveraging on the successful experience from the world’s leading R&D lab to cater to the real needs of Chinese scientists.

The Roche Innovation Center Shanghai is designed based on the “Dancing Dragon” concept that uses more optimal curves and geometric characteristics, so that the floor diagram looks like two dragons dancing.

“The new Innovation Center Shanghai will be equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. The building will provide plenty of flexible modular work areas, together with a raft of scientific and collaboration spaces. The idea behind the center is to facilitate communications and further foster teamwork among our research staff. We look forward to seeing more breakthrough therapies discovered from the center in the future,” said Dr David Lee, the global head of Roche Pharma Research & Early Development Infectious, Immunology and Inflammation Diseases Discovery and Translational Area.

IBLAC meeting

Besides attending the groundbreaking ceremony, another important agenda of Dr Schwan’s China visit is to attend the 28th annual meeting of the International Business Leaders’ Advisory Council (IBLAC) for the Mayor of Shanghai over the weekend to present insights for the sustainable development of Shanghai.

Dr Schwan has attended IBLAC for seven consecutive years as CEO of Roche Group, demonstrating the great importance Shanghai and China means for Roche.

At this year’s IBLAC, Dr Schwan will elaborate on Roche’s unique position in personalized healthcare and successful global experience. In the “Internet Plus” era, Internet-based platforms and big health data provide new channels to prop up Shanghai as a pioneer in personalized healthcare and a global leader in smart healthcare.

As the leader in personalized healthcare, Roche is willing to leverage on its own advantages and experience to contribute to Shanghai’s ambition to become a smart city with smart healthcare and Dr Schwan is very optimistic about the development of personalized healthcare in China.

Personalized Healthcare (PHC) at Roche means fitting the treatment to the patients, which is to provide the right therapy for the right group of people at the right time. Compared with traditional healthcare, personalized healthcare aims to provide targeted therapies tailored to the inherited or acquired risk factors displayed by different subgroups of patients.

Roche’s advantage lies in its ability to combine strengths in both the Pharma and Diagnostics divisions to drive PHC’s extensive in-house interactions across the entire value chain. In 2006, Roche made personalized healthcare the core of its group strategy and has become the leader in personalized healthcare.

In 2015, Roche entered a broad strategic collaboration with Foundation Medicine, a leader in the field of molecular information in oncology, and has begun to use the latter’s innovative genomic sequencing technology to accurately detect the oncogenic mutations in different patients and more effectively help oncologists find highly-targeted therapies for cancer patients.

Roche also announced its cooperation with Flatiron Health in January this year to integrate the immense “real world data” and to use high-quality healthcare data and advanced analytics to improve both the development of medicines and the quality of treatment decisions.

The cooperation with Foundation Medicine in genomic data and the alliance with Flatiron Health in real world data strengthen Roche’s access to innovation and new technologies and drive its commitment to more targeted treatments that, ultimately, make personalized healthcare a reality.


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