Several big pharmas have recently shuttered their research operations in China, but Sanofi is apparently buckling down in the region with a new global R&D hub. The company is hiring 300 people in Chengdu, China to run a tech-focused operation that’s meant to speed up analysis of its clinical trials.
Sanofi is investing €66 million ($76.6 million) in the hub and will have it fully staffed by 2020. The R&D center is supposed to support Sanofi’s drug development by managing global multi-center clinical trial data and files. The company says it will “take advantage of local talents” to strengthen Sanofi’s digital capabilities, speeding up trials results.
“Through this new hub, we will take full advantage of our global experience and R&D capabilities together with local scientific research strengths to further improve innovation,” said Zhang Ji, SVP and global head of Sanofi R&D Operations, in a statement. “Our goal is to link China’s innovative achievements with the global ecosystem and develop innovative drugs in China that could benefit patients around the world.”
The new hub builds on Sanofi’s existing presence in China, which includes the Sanofi China headquarters in Shanghai along with 11 regional offices. With the China R&D Center and the Asia-Pacific R&D Center in Shanghai — combined with Sanofi China’s other offices — the company employs 9,500 in the region.
But some big pharmas have gone the opposite direction in China, withdrawing from their operations rather than building on them. GSK, for example, announced last year it would close down its neuroscience R&D site in China — a $100 million project once boasted to employ 1,000 people in Shanghai. And in the same year, Novartis announced it was shuttering two units in China.
Sanofi’s new unit in China is said to be leveraging gene therapy, monoclonal antibodies, multi-specific antibodies, and polypeptide technology to tackle diabetes, cardiovascular disease, vaccines, oncology, immunology and inflammation, rare diseases, multiple sclerosis, and neurology.
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