For Taiwanese Biotech, “The Keyword is Collaboration”


Taiwan’s biotech sector is growing rapidly and increasingly embracing advanced fields such as precision medicine and AI. However, Johnsee Lee, chairman of the Taiwan Bio Industry Organization warns that the island’s bio industry must become even more collaborative in order to achieve further success and increase its global market share.


Overall, Taiwan definitely holds a set of unique characteristics and strengths that make it an appealing prospect to the global life science community looking for partnership, investment or licensing opportunities

Johnsee Lee, Taiwan Bio Industry Organization


Taiwan’s burgeoning biotech sector is rapidly expanding and is increasingly innovative.  In 2017 the total revenue of the biotech and pharmaceutical markets reached USD 10.6 million, a growth of 17 percent from a 2012 total of USD 8.9 million. Recent regulatory reform allowing for the use of advanced cell therapies such as CAR-T for oncology treatments stand to boost the industry even further, while molecular diagnostics and precision medicine are growing in Taiwan thanks to greater collaboration between local players and multinational pharma companies. The island’s world-renowned technology sector is also being leveraged to better analyse the wealth of data held by Taiwan’s National Health Insurance system.


In the past, most Taiwanese biotechs focused purely on R&D and lacked the capital to bring their products to market, However, today several companies have gained market approval for their therapies and are now generating revenues. Six drugs from Taiwan’s biotech industry have gained FDA approval, as well as nearly thirty medical devices. As of June 2018, there were 117 biotechs and medical care companies listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange with a combined value of USD 27.3 billion.


However, some Taiwanese investors are wary of the risks of investing in biotech, and for this reason many Taiwanese biotechs are looking to attract international investments and industry partnerships. As the Taiwan Bio Industry Organization‘s Johnsee Lee stated in a recent interview, “the keyword in biotech and pharma is collaboration. Individuals can only do so much—we need to connect. We need to connect for resource reasons, and we need to connect for expertise reasons. Partnering internationally is our greatest goal—with China, but, looking towards the future, also with Europe and the US.”


The way for biotech companies to gain investor trust, according to Lee, is to demonstrate solid results and performance indicators. Lee added that “although there are some political tensions between [China and Taiwan], there are close business and investment ties between us. In fact, after Japan, China had the second highest number of delegates attending the BioTaiwan convention last year.”


In the spirit of continued collaboration, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and Taiwan Bio are coming together for another year to present BIO Asia Taiwan 2019, taking place July 24-28 in Taipei. Themed “Biotech as the Next Growth Engine for Asia”, this year’s event will attract more than 1,500 attendees from 25 countries representing biomedical, pharmaceutical, genomics, biotech services, equipment and instruments, academic research, and bio-based healthcare. For the past 16 years, BioTaiwan has established itself as one of the largest annual biotech events in Asia.


If you are interested in attending this event, more information is available at BioAsia Taiwan’s official website. Early registration discounts are available before 22nd June 2019.

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