When AstraZeneca ($AZN) recently announced its move to create its third R&D hub in China, the pharma giant was following in the paths of some major rivals. It also represented another step to a more integrated biopharma world, creating a breeding ground for new company creation that stretches around the globe.
In 2015, the trends I cited above tended to clobber everyone over the head. This one, though, is a lot more subtle. There's no spigot of money directed at the Golden Triangle. There's also no great infrastructure for putting together experienced biotech teams in the U.K. or China. It's going to take time and patience, but this trend toward greater globalization is gradually gathering steam.
At a time when the industry puts more and more emphasis on hubs, the Internet is making geography is less and less important. You can develop a new drug in Shanghai, or London or San Francisco or Stockholm or Cambridge/Boston. It may be easier for VCs to operate in some regions opposed to others, but great science has never crossed international boundary lines so easily. J&J ($JNJ) recognized that with its global innovation network and the rest of the industry is slowly waking up to the potential as well.
The model for drug development is centered squarely around small organizations supported by quality vendors among the contract players in clinical trials and manufacturing. And the support network stretches around the world. An entrepreneur in China can run a clinical trial in Australia. Just as a Paris-based company can look to London. That's a good breeding ground for new companies, whichever country they're operating in.
See you at the passport line. -- John Carroll