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"Pharma in China Being Held to Higher Standard, Says Greg Scott, ChinaBio"
HD Biosciences Funded by Lilly, Pfizer and Morningside
HD Biosciences Inc., a biology-focused contract research organization (CRO) based in Shanghai, formally announced the closing of its Series A financing. The first announcement came at the ChinaBio® Investor Forum held July 7-8 in Shanghai. The round was led by Morningside Venture with Lilly Asian Ventures and Pfizer Venture Investments joining. This may well be the first example of multiple big pharma's taking an equity position in a China-based CRO.
HD Biosciences is a specialized CRO focused on conducting assay development and high throughput screening services for big pharma and biotech. The funding will be used to support the expansion of its high throughput screening program and build new capabilities in in vivo biology and DMPK bio-analytical services.
HD Biosciences was one of 15 companies that had presented to potential investors at the previous ChinaBio Investor Forum held in Shanghai in December 2007. Both Dr. Yi Shi of Lilly and Dr. Wayne Li of Morningside had attended the December event, which was said to have piqued their interest in HDB.
Dr. Shi and Dr. Li also participated with Dr. Xuehai Tan, HD Biosciences' CEO, on a panel called "Funding Success Stories" at the most recent Investor Forum. This panel featured HDB and PegBio, another company that received funding as a result of the earlier Investor Forum, and their respective investors, including Dr. David Xu of Mingly China Growth Fund.
Lilly has been active in China over the last year or two, especially since bringing Dr. Shi on board to run its Lilly Asian Ventures arm in Shanghai. Lilly's R&D unit has also been busy partnering with other firms in the Park including ChemPartner, which secured over $30 million in funding from TPG and is rumored to be preparing to IPO (story), and Hutchison MediPharma, part of Hutchison Whampoa Limited (HSI: HWL) which IPOed last year. All of these companies are within a two minute walk of ChinaBio's Shanghai headquarters.
Pfizer's (NYSE: PFE) venture arm has been more stealthy in China, but their R&D group has grown to over 200 staff and is located a couple of miles away in the Park. This group supports Pfizer's Global R&D group and the Biotherapeutics and Bioinnovation Center (BBC), which just announced that it's moving its global headquarters to San Francisco (story).
Pfizer’s China R&D center, along with other CRO partnerships that the company has established, is a part of the company’s broader R&D strategy to expand in Asia. The company has ongoing research partnerships with Wuxi Pharmatech, HD Biosciences, and several other CRO companies in China.
Pfizer’s head of R&D for Asia, Dr. Steve Yang, is also based in Shanghai. Dr. Yang told ChinaBio® Today, “Pfizer is building a virtual R&D network in Asia to support drug discovery project delivery at the research stage. Companies such as HD Bioscience play important roles in this network for Pfizer to tap into the scientific talents and capabilities in Asia.”
Dr. Gerald Chan, Chairman of Morningside Venture, said "HD Bioscience is emerging as a leading contract research organization with expertise in customized biology services. The company, led by a team of highly trained scientific professionals, is well equipped to lead biotechnology development in China and meet industry needs worldwide."
Morningside Group is a diversified private investment group founded in 1986 by the Chan family of Hong Kong. Morningside is said to have made over 40 investments in early stage biotechnology and life science companies in China over the last four years, and has the reputation of being one of the more prolific investors. Lilly Asian Ventures is the Asian venture capital arm of Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY), and has about $100M under management.
Founded in 2002, HDB has provided services to clients including 5 out of the 10 world's largest multinational pharmaceutical companies. It has recently expanded its management team to include Wen Chen, formerly of HUYA International, as Chief Operating Officer.
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