Sundia MediTech Company,Ltd.
Lady behind Sundia success: Dr Xiaochuan Wang, China
Sundia, a Shanghai-based integrated pharmaceutical contract research organization is the brainchild of a highly motivated Chinese researcher, Dr Xiaochuan Wang, who worked in the US for over 14 years in three biotech companies after her PhD in molecular structure design of new drugs, from the University of Chicago.
By Narayan Kulkarni
Sundia, a Shanghai-based integrated pharmaceutical contract research organization is the brainchild of a highly motivated Chinese researcher, Dr Xiaochuan Wang, who worked in the US for over 14 years in three biotech companies after her PhD in molecular structure design of new drugs, from the University of Chicago. Dr Wang along with Dr Ming Tang and Dr Ming Qi gave shape to Sundia MediTech in 2004.
âThis might be the best decision I made in my lifetime. Thank God, I do not have to worry about living on the street now,â was what Dr Chen Liqing, a faculty member at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, shared on a lighter note to the audience at the third anniversary celebration of Sundia MediTech Company in mid-2007. He mortgaged his house in the US to invest in Sundia, when the company was just a six-month-old start-up with an unclear future. This indicates the level of confidence the shareholders had in the leadership of the company.
Divulging the driving factors of her entrepreneurship, Dr Wang says, âI believe that after gaining 14 years of experience in pharmaceutical industry, we got extensive experience in management. I have gained enough experience as a manager after working with three companies in the US. I understood the factors that led to the growth of US-based companies. We also realized the needs of pharmaceutical industry. I and other overseas returnees strongly felt that we could make a bigger impact in China than in the US. We also believed that we could also help and train Chinese scientists.â
Sundiaâs business model received regional support in China. Besides investing their own money, Dr Wang says, âWe got $15,000 (100,000 RMB) from the local government in 2004. They helped us to register Sundia.â
In just 10 months after Sundiaâs birth, IDG VC, a popular venture capital firm joined as a series A investor. The deal was closed in July 2005. Sundia raised second round of funding in December 2007 from Asia vest, JAIC, Pinpoint and IDG.
To allay customer fears and convince them with professionalism, Sundia puts in place an excellent IP insurance enforcement system. Besides this it also had a professional management and smooth communication system to deal with customers. This initiative helped Sundia get business and grow very fast, within three years of its inception. Sundia, under the able leadership of Dr Wang, achieved its goals. Its revenue grew more than five times and it became profitable in 2007.
As business grew, so did the management team. Dr Wang assembled a team of 16 comprising highly skilled and experienced people from different background, who now manage around 400 people under them with over 300 scientists and offering CRO services to over 90 customers from the US, Europe
Dr Wang sensed stiff domestic competition emerging with a growing market. She and two other business partners formed CRO Service Alliance (CROSA) in Shanghai, a first-of-its-kind in China in 2007, to provide efficient and high quality CRO services in all related fields of drug discovery and development for clients worldwide.
Just two weeks after forming this alliance, Sundia MediTech and United PharmaTech, one among the other two companies that joined the alliance signed a letter of intent agreeing to combine their businesses, and became a subsidiary of Sundia Investment Group, a holding firm based in the British Virgin Islands, which owns Sundia. This rapid decision from Dr Wang shows that she did not want to miss the advantage of Chinaâs high position on the list of top outsourcing destinations for drug development.
Besides joining hands with the other players in CRO market such as HD BioSciences from China, Sundia MediTech has formed a strategic alliance with NovaSecta, a specialist R&D service provider for small and medium-sized pharmas in Europe to bring benefits to European customers. Tigermed Consulting, which provides R&D solutions to pharmaceutical and biotech companies, also joined CROSA. Through these strategic alliances, Sundia has emerged as one of the leading CROs. Overcoming the initial hurdles like developing the team, funding and marketing, Sundia has built a strong reputation in global pharmaceutical CRO industry, especially in the new drug discovery services.
Dr Wang attributes the success of the company to the whole team of Sundia. Believing in âCustomer is Kingâ, Dr Wang concludes, âWe understand our clientâs needs and always place
high priority on timely communication, knowledgeable responses, and strict intellectual property protection. As we continue to grow, we will maintain our commitment to provide the best quality service to our clients.
A. The animal facility of the company has passed the audit of a major European Pharmaceutical Company and it was evaluated by Shanghai Animal Management Committee, and the permit for using laboratory animals was obtained in January 2008.
B. Selected by the top VC investors as one of the Most Valuable Companies for Investment in China in 2007 and 2008.
C. Listed in Deloitte High-tech High-growth Companies Top 50 in China and Top 500 in Asia Pacific in 2008.
D. Listed in Top 100 Fastest Growing Outsourcing Companies in China, Deloitte Technology 500 Fastest Growing Companies in Asia Pacific, Red Herring Top 100 Companies in Asia Pacific in 2009.
E. Included in Top 100 Fast-growth Outsourcing Service Provider in China by the three leading global market researchers: TPI, IDC and Gartner in 2009.
âAward encourages us to move forwardâ
What are the major changes in CRO market from the year 2004 to 2010?
When compared to 2004, the CRO market has undergone a vast change now. In 2004, most companies were only willing to give custom synthesis work to Chinese CRO, no core research project came our way. Companies approached CROs for cheap labor and they were concerned about the intellectual property. Now, companies, not only from the US, but even from Europe and Japan, pay close attention to quality, R&D capability, management, technology than just the price. Those companies look at our CROs as their partners, not just for affordable labors.
What are the current challenges faced by your organization?
The current challenge for us is to ensure Sundiaâs growth. We have to maintain our reputation in quality, professional management, IP insurance and expedited delivery along the growing/development process. In order to fulfill the demand from the market we have to build a strong capability in R&D and innovation.
What are your plans for the company in the next five years?
In the next five years. Sundia will extend collaborations with research institutions, universities and the experts over various fields and will develop innovative ideas and technologies to speed up the drug discovery process, to increase the success rate and to reduce the cost for our partners.
Your views on receiving BioSpectrum Asia Pacific Entrepreneur of the Year Award?
I appreciate the award and thank the selection committee. I have to say, it is the reward to my team, to all Sundians. Without the team, Sundia could not have reached where we are now. We will take this award as an encouragement to move forward to win a bright future for Sundia.