The Netherlands provides a supportive innovation policy and a dynamic eco-system for companies and research institutions. Companies, research institutes and science parks work closely together to provide innovative solutions in biopharmaceutical value chains. With its focus on efficient, sustainable, and clean production, the Dutch biopharma sector is an essential partner for China. In the search for solutions the Netherlands Innovation Network (NIN) hosted a series of events to give our (Chinese) partners insight into the latest innovations in the Netherlands.
China has become the second-biggest pharmaceutical market in the world after the USA, with estimates about the predicted value of the Chinese pharmaceutical market in 2023 reaching 161.8 billion USD, up from 134.6 billion USD in 2018. There are two drivers behind this immense growth. On the one hand, central government reforms have expanded insurance access to an aging population and on the other hand, broader economic growth in China has enabled more Chinese patients access to medicine.
China is an increasingly interesting market for Dutch SMEs. China has an enormous patient population, available capital and a drive to become more innovative. Many Chinese investors and companies approach Dutch biopharma companies and start-ups for potential collaborations. Dutch companies have expressed their willingness to tap into this high-potential market.
In the preparatory phase, the NIN conducted virtual meetings with regional development agencies, science parks and other relevant stakeholders to get an overview of the Dutch biopharmaceutical sector and their interest in China. Mapping out the relevant contact and parties was an important part of this initial preparatory phase. In the next phase, the NIN contacted interested companies and set up face-to-face meetings.
Multiple companies expressed similar concerns about entering the Chinese market:
- Intellectual property rights
- Travel restrictions
- Regulations and drug approval
- Differences in cultural practices
Ultimately, nine companies registered for the webinar and the roadshow:
A series of events: webinar, roadshow, and roundtables
The first event in the series of events for Dutch biopharmaceuticals interested in entering the Chinese market was a webinar. In this webinar, experts elaborated upon the market opportunities, roadblocks and conducting business with China. The webinar was well-received and the overall response from the Dutch companies was that the webinar gave new insights and information about the (possibilities of the) Chinese biopharmaceutical sector.
The second event in the series was a digital roadshow “Dutch Biopharma on Tour China”. Some of the most innovative and creative Dutch biopharmaceutical companies showcased themselves to a diverse and wide-spread Chinese audience during this roadshow. The format of the event was 5 minutes of video pitch and 5 minutes of Q&A by Chinese interested parties. Each pitch was pre-recorded and translated prior to the event and there was a simultaneous interpreter present during the event. The roadshow generated interest throughout China and around 100 people signed up for the roadshow.
The roadshow was a big success. The roadshow also facilitated the creation of a network within China of relevant parties and companies. Maintain contact with this network will be vital for our future events.
The third event in the series were three days of roundtables. These roundtables were nine rounds of one hour with the nine Dutch companies. Chinese parties were able to sign up for multiple match-making sessions with the Dutch biopharma companies.
The preliminary results of our field research and the events were that there are business opportunities for Dutch biopharmaceutical companies in China, despite several roadblocks. There are opportunities for investments, partnerships, licensing, and other business opportunities. Specifically, the harmonization of Chinese regulation in drug approval provides a great chance for Dutch biopharma to enter the Chinese market.
In the Netherlands, SMES’s have an interest in China. Most of the companies that we have spoken to have previously been contacted by or personally contacted the Dutch diplomatic network abroad or have had contact with the ROM’s in the Netherlands. Moreover, companies which had participated in missions abroad, such as the Vaccination Mission in India in 2019, were inclined to participate in our activities.
There are plenty of opportunities within this sector for more collaborations on both sides, which will strengthen the LSH sector in the Netherlands.
The Netherlands Innovation Network will continue to develop activities within this sector together with its partners.