AstraZeneca today announced Shanghai’s Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park as the initial base for its new Innovation Centre China (ICC).
The ICC, announced in May 2006 as part of a larger $100 million R&D investment package, is the primary focus of AstraZeneca’s latest investment in China. The Centre will focus on the benefit and value of innovative medicines for Chinese patients, initially concentrating on cancer through the development of knowledge about Chinese patients, biomarkers and genetics. The start of construction work at the site is an important milestone in establishing a dedicated AstraZeneca research presence in China and the company’s ambitions of having a strong R&D presence in the region.
Jan Lundberg, Executive Vice-President of Discovery at AstraZeneca, said: "This is an important step forward in a high priority project which promises to hold great potential to advance our understanding of a disease which has such devastating consequences. It will be an integral part of our global R&D activity aimed at ensuring that the right patients are treated with our oncology drugs and will take advantage of the excellent science base in Shanghai where there is a burgeoning biotech industry.
"This milestone is also another powerful example of our policy of being ‘In China for China’."
James Ward-Lilley, President of AstraZeneca China, said: "As the leading ethical pharmaceutical company in the country, we fully support China’s national focus on innovation by substantially increasing our R&D investment, both in financial terms and in terms of scientific collaboration.
"We believe the research work at ICC will address the area of significant unmet need, and will bring novel therapy to Chinese patients."
The facility will open in mid-2007 and provide a base to build capabilities and skills in China prior to the establishment of a permanent state-of-the-art site. AstraZeneca has already initiated a comprehensive search for a permanent location for the ICC.
"Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park offers us great facilities and an ideal base from which to intensify recruitment of the 70-plus scientists and physicians specialising in translational science who will progress the ICC’s early and later stage research projects. Initially these projects will be specific to cancer, a major cause of death in China," said Xiaolin Zhang, Head of the ICC.
Recruitment of these scientists and physicians is already underway. They will join the 2,900 already employed by AstraZeneca in China, a leading multinational company there with a network of more than 20 marketing and sales offices; a manufacturing site at Wuxi, Jiangsu Province inaugurated in 2001; and clinical research facilities. AstraZeneca was the first multinational pharmaceutical company to include China as an area for large-scale international multi-centre trials and establish a local clinical research centre. The company has long been dedicated to strengthening collaborations with local academic and medical institutionsZhang
The Innovation Center China will open in mid-2007 before the establishment of a permanent site that officials are still looking for.