More than 100 industry leaders, entrepreneurs and investors gathered during the WuXi Executive Luncheon at MIXiii BIOMED 2017 on May 24. The event included a thought-provoking panel discussion on the growth, opportunities, and challenges of the life science sectors in Israel, China, and around the globe.
- Richard Soll, SVP of RSD and Head of Boston & Israel Offices, WuXi AppTec (moderator)
- Julian Adams, President & Chief Science Officer, Clal Biotechnology Industries Ltd.
- Oren Hershkovitz, General Manager, OPKO Biologics
- Tong Zhang, VP & Head of Corporate Business Development, WuXi AppTec
Hui Cai, Vice President of Corporate Alliances and Head of Corporate Communications for WuXi AppTec, kicked off the luncheon with a brief overview of Israel’s exciting life science landscape, as well as an update on WuXi activities.
“This is my fourth time coming to Israel Biomed, and Israel’s innovation, entrepreneurship, and just the sheer energy penetrates every corner at every conference and every meeting room. This is what’s exciting about the Israel life science community,” Cai said.
Rich Soll, WuXi’s Senior Vice President, Research Service Division, led the panel discussion, which also included perspectives and insights on the current state of drug discovery and development in Israel, as well as future trends. The panelists agreed that Israel’s thriving life science community has been made possible by highly innovative academic centers, bright entrepreneurs and a supportive government.
However, Israel’s life science maturity will depend on its ability to bring its innovations to patients, not only on a regional level but also on a global scale, according to Julian Adams, President and Chief Science Officer, Clal Biotechnology Industries Ltd., one of the country’s leading investment firms.
“When I look at many of the Israeli companies, that clearly the foundation is here, the intellectual capital is here, the university systems, the university technology offices – there’s clearly a spirit of innovation here,” Adams said. “But what we don’t have is a spirit of commercialization. What’s missing is experienced management and scalability.”
One way Israeli biotechs can enter the global stage, for example, is taking advantage of experienced CROs such as WuXi, said Tong Zhang, Vice President and Head of Corporate Business Development for WuXi. During the panel discussion, he spoke about what WuXi can do to help build an even stronger ecosystem in Israel.
“Both WuXi corporate and WuXi Healthcare Ventures can invest in early stage opportunities, but we also provide, beyond the capital, the expertise accumulated over 16 years and over 3,000 clients, on how to build a company to the next stage,” Zhang said. “I know a lot of you feel there’s a bottleneck for the next stage of development, and it’s not just capital. I think we can bring that expertise and customize our partner structure to meet your needs, whether it’s a joint venture or equity investment. We can also help you connect globally to potential partners.”
Zhang also touched on recent changes within the China FDA, which will make it easier for global life science companies and even smaller biotechs to get their treatments to Chinese patients quicker.
“They are probably the most significant changes China FDA has made over the last 15 years,” he said. “In the past, even if you had a product approved in the U.S., you needed to apply for an IND in China, which could take up to two years to get approved. And then, go through the rest of the process. So it’s about four-to-eight years of delay. So you can see that companies have been discouraged to do drug development in China. But now with the latest policy changes, China is very much in line with the U.S. FDA.”
WuXi is excited to continue the conversation about how to further bolster Israel’s life science innovation and help move treatments from the bench to bedside, not only across the region but also around the world.