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Shenzhen biotech companies building the world’s largest cell bank in Guizhou
Shenzhen biotech companies choose Guizhou Province in Southwest China for its policy support from the governments at all levels in Guizhou

Year 2017 is a year where the life sciences industry in the world opened new territories in different fields. Cellular immunotherapy has achieved a historic breakthrough and started clinical application. Gene editing has also moved from basic science research to technological applications. In China, clinical applications of CAR-T cell therapy have been submitted for regulatory approval, and the company that produced the first domestic PD-1 monoclonal antibody drug is also preparing for public listing. BGI Genomics (华大基因) was successfully listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, 18 years since its founding; Beike Biotech (北科生物) announced that the Shenzhen Integrated Cell Bank was granted accreditation by the American Association of Blood Bank; Direct Genomics (瀚海基因) has released its GenoCare single-molecule sequencing platform, a third-generation gene sequencer.

Shenzhen is known as the "Silicon Valley" of China’s bio-industry. The city has witnessed an average annual growth rate of 20 per cent in the life science and healthcare sector in recent years. The output of the industry has exceeded 30 billion U.S. dollars. Currently Shenzhen's new generation of gene sequencing capabilities ranks the first in the world. The world’s largest gene bank, the China National Gene Bank, is located in Shenzhen. Tumor immunotherapy and other biotechnologies developed by Shenzhen companies are also industry leaders in mainland China.

To improve the competency of biotech companies, in 2016, over 70 companies in Shenzhen formed the first Life Science Industry Association in China. The plan is to integrate Shenzhen's high-quality life science resources and create an innovative industry model, to push the "full value chain of the life science industry".

To this end, Beike Biotech and Rong Hui Ren He (融汇仁和) have planned 12 large-scale industrial projects which are all located in the Guizhou province. The projects will combine medical and life science technologies as well as artificial intelligence to create an innovative industry model. Confirmed projects include the “Beike (Guiyang) Life Science Center”, “Beike Rong Hui (Dong Township) Life Science World: the World's Largest Cell Bank”, “Yi Long Innovative Hospital”, “Mei Tan Peach Blossom River Life Science Valley” and “Beike Life and Health Management College”. It was announced at the association’s meeting in January that the world's largest cell bank, with the capacity to store over 20 million cell samples, will be completed and put into use in June this year.

It is to be noted that these projects are not built by one enterprise alone, but the result of collaborative efforts involving a number of enterprises. Among the confirmed projects, the companies that are taking part include Beike Biotech, Rong Hui Ren He, BGI Genomics, Shenzhen Das Intellitech, Hui Kang Medical. For example, in the Beike (Guiyang) Life Science Center project, BGI will be in charge of setting up the genetic testing center, and Huikang Medical will use data analytics to mine the medical big data, helping doctors achieve precision diagnosis and treatment. “In the future, more members of the trade association will join in, to play their part in the national strategic direction of building the life-science industry, also to speed up the gaining of domestic market." Said Deputy Secretary Ding Leshi, Shenzhen Life Science Industry Association.

But why would Shenzhen biotech companies choose Guizhou Province in Southwest China as a base for such huge projects?

On the one hand, it is due to the policy support from the governments at all levels in Guizhou Province. Guizhou recognizes the health industry as one of the strategic emerging industries. There is unprecedented support in administrative examination and approval, land lease for projects, financial support, and preferential tax treatment.

Guizhou has lagged behind the national counterparts in terms of healthcare and medical services, and the government is determined to change this track record and treat the life sciences and healthcare industry as its core competencies. In February 2017, the capital city Guiyang signed a cooperation agreement with Beike Biotech to create a “City Life Valley” project. This is a project that integrates health management, healthy retirement, leisure and vacation, smart community services in one complex.

Guizhou also regards the development of big data industry as a strategic move and has taken the lead in medical data analytics. Coupled with Guizhou's ecological, landscape and climate resources, it has a major advantage.

In addition to driving the domestic market outside Shenzhen, the Life Sciences Industry Association is also planning to bring more projects to Shenzhen. “After all, Shenzhen has a better foundation for the development of the science and technology industry," said Ding. By working with counterparts in the bio-industry and pooling the resources together, it is possible for Shenzhen to accelerate the development of the life sciences industry and to compete in the global market.

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