Oct 30, 2019
The biopharma industry is growing steadily in Asia Economic indicators such as the increase in public R & D spending across the Asian continent and the increase in both the number of new biopharma companies and the percentage of those companies applying for initial public offerings. Additionally, the number of biotechnology and pharmaceutical patents filed across Asia has exceeded 77 million. Jobs in the biopharmaceutical and biotech industries have continued to rise over the past decade. Here are some of the Top 5 geographic clusters across Asia leading the way in biopharma innovations.
Tourists know Thailand is the "Land of Smiles" but soon its moniker can be changed to "Land of Robotics". Thailand has been the worldwide leader in the "bio-economy" when it comes to medical robotics businesses. Thailand's economy is built to incentivize the biopharma industry with a corporate income tax exemption for the development of biotech robotics. There is also a five-year tax exemption for the building and design of automata or mechanization devices and components corporations.
Indonesia hasn't led in biotech IPOs in the past several years but aims to change. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has proposed cutting the corporate tax rate for newly listed biopharma companies to 17% for the first five years after their initial public offering. That tax rate matches that of Singapore and is a lower rate than Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The Malaysian government is coming to the tail end of a 15-year National Biotechnology Policy that is just about to expire in 2020. The goal of this policy is to expand the biopharma industry to just over 5% of its Gross Domestic Product. They have gone so far as to develop a Malaysian Bioeconomy Development Corporation to see the effort through as it pertains to science, agriculture, and the various biotech economies.
President Tsai Ing-wen launched the Innovative Industries Plan, in 2016 to develop Taiwanese biotech and biopharma homegrown industries. Taiwan is set to increase the growth of biopharma, biotech and medical device industries by a combined $32 billion by the year 2025. Taiwan milestone includes developing the production of new medical treatments with precision medicine in mind. Taiwan also hoped to train 120 new biopharma industry professionals in the coming year.
Australia has made the list by encouraging new biopharma industries to develop in the research stage. The "Down Under" country has new laws that took effect in October 2019 that will enable researchers to use CRISPR and other innovative gene-editing biotechnology on the condition that new genetic material is created. Up to this point, genetic researchers and biopharma scientists were required to secure biosafety panel approval, a rule the biopharma and biotech industries have previously said have hampered gene therapy efforts.
A year after transactions involving “research and development in biotechnology” and 26 other “critical technology” industries were made subject to review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), President Donald Trump’s Administration has signaled a desire to keep an even closer eye on such deals. The new rules could further reduce foreign direct investment in the United States by overseas investors, including Asian firms and wealthy individuals increasingly flush with capital as biopharma has grown in Asia.
The Trump Administration has proposed regulations to implement the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA) of 2018 by further expanding CFIUS’ jurisdiction beyond transactions that could result in control of a U.S. business shifting to overseas investors, to also include a noncontrolling direct or indirect investment by a foreign person as spelled out by the U.S. Treasury Department.
The CFIUS expansion appears to explain a drop in Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) into U.S. biopharmas. According to PitchBook, Chinese investors participated in $725 million worth of venture capital financings for U.S. biopharmas during the first half of 2019—down 56% from $1.65 billion during January–June 2018.