Novartis

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Company: Novartis ($NVS)
Investment: $1.25 billion over 5 years
Themes: R&D and APIs

Novartis went big on China in 2009 when it unveiled plans to invest $1.25 billion in the country. The cash was earmarked for hiring 1,000 staff and building an active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) facility in Changshu. Now the strategy is around the halfway point, with Novartis having opened the API research, development and manufacturing center and added 280 new staff to its Shanghai R&D center.

Hires have also been made at other Novartis units in China. And the rate is set to accelerate as Novartis moves ahead with plans to expand its operations. "Hiring will continue over the next few years as buildings on the new campus are completed. Phase one of the construction is under way and expected to be completed in 2015," a Novartis spokesperson told FierceBiotech.

Former Novartis CEO Daniel Vasella began the push to expand in China before stepping down. Unveiling the $1.25 billion investment, Vasella told Business Week: "China has a dynamically growing economy, and they have lots of money and no debt. And then you have the willingness of the government to cover many more of its citizens. There will be growth."

Vasella's successor, Joe Jimenez, has since taken up the same theme: "The best thing about China is that the market is growing substantially, so everyone is winning."