Top Takeaways After Visiting Shanghai for the China Healthcare Investment Conference (CHIC)
Last week I visited Shanghai for the 9th Annual China Healthcare Investment Conference (CHIC). While it is impossible to put into words even a small fraction everything I experienced and learned there, I wanted to share some key takeaways and photos to
help illustrate what is happening in the region. From the topline, here are the two big thoughts in my head after returning home to Kansas City: 1) what an amazing city Shanghai is today 2) the China biotech boom is real and is going to be big, big, big.
Before going into more detail, I wanted to first say a special 'thank you' to the team at BioCentury for helping me on this trip. The years they have spent in the region and their knowledge of biotech in China is amazing. From left to right are Matt Krebs, Josh Berlin, and David Flores. They are great guys and super helpful if you need background info on a company or business here.
With that, here are my top ten takeaways from the trip (click on any photo to enlarge and see a description):
1. CHIC is a great conference that wants to be China's JPM. I highly recommend it.
The conference I attended was the China Healthcare Investment Conference, known as CHIC for short. This was the conference's 9th year and my understanding is that it started as a small gathering of just a handful of attendees and has grown every year since. It took place on a Tuesday through Thursday at the Ritz Carlton Pudong (Pudong is Shanghai's modern downtown area) and included everything from an entrepreneur's boot camp to panels with both drug development and medical device tracks. CHIC used the same 1x1 online scheduling system that many conferences in the U.S. use so it was easy to plan ahead and schedule meetings. The organizers also hosted a social event the first night and a nice dinner the second night so introducing yourself to other attendees wasn't a problem if you are new to the area. Both English and Chinese were spoken by panelists at times (I'd say 70/30 English/Chinese) and they had a real-time translation service with headphones that made it easy for everyone to switch back and forth so you never missed any comments.
2. There are 1.4 billion people in the country and only a few big biotech companies...not for long.
On the stage in the photos below are representatives from the four Chinese biotech companies to have reached the Billion Dollar Club - those with a $1B+ market valuation. Or as they apparently say here, "The carp that jumped over the dragon's fence." They are GenScript, WuXi Biologics, BeiGene, and Zai Lab. The panel was moderated by Frank Kung, Managing Partner of Vivo Capital.
3. There is a big focus on cell therapy in China. They are ahead of the curve in this area.
Pictured below is a talk by James Li, CEO of local CAR-T leader JW Therapeutics. The company was given this name because it was formed in a partnership by "J" Juno Therapeutics and "W" WuXi AppTec. U.S. investors might also be familiar with Nanjing Legend Biotech of ASCO17 and JNJ partnership fame, and Gilead's Kite division also has a big cell therapy program here with Fosun Pharma. Overall, there are more CAR-T companies and trials ongoing in China than in the United States currently.
4. The VC/PE community in China is first class. That is one part of the biotech ecosystem that is already very strong here.
During my time both inside an outside of the conference, I made a point of meeting with local investors to get their perspective on business. Some I had the pleasure of meeting with in person included representatives from Quan Capital, Sailing Capital, Vivo Capital, and Yafo Capital. At least a dozen more participated in the conference. I found them all to be incredibly smart and thoughtful. One slide below from McKinsey & Company shows statistics on private investment in biotech for China over the last few years.