On 30 April 2018, Hong Kong Stock Exchange’s (HKEX’s) introduced a number of reforms to allow and support the listing of pre-profit biotech companies. Nearly 2.5 years later, 20 companies have seized the opportunity to IPO under the new Chapter 18A, raising a total of over HKD 34.92 billion (USD 4.51 billion).*


All save two – Venus Medtech and Peijia Medical – are biopharma companies.

Out of the 20, all except one are based in mainland China; the exception, SinoMab BioScience, is based in Hong Kong.

Nine of the 20 are commercial-stage companies.

Two companies, Beigene and Henlius, have received commercial approvals outside of China, in the US and Europe respectively.

14 of the 20 companies are led by the founders

Five out of the 20 companies are led by women: Mabpharm, TOT Biopharma, InnoCare Pharma, Akeso Biopharma and Immunotech Biopharm.

There is only one dual-listed company, Beigene, which was first listed on NASDAQ in 2016, but Junshi Biosciences seems set to be the second, as it prepares for another IPO on the Shanghai STAR Market.

Two of the biotechs have since “graduated” from the biotech chapter by meeting the necessary revenue and market capitalization requirements for the dis-application, shedding the “B” marker previously affixed to the company’s stock name: Innovent Biologics and Junshi Biosciences.


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Key Facts & Figures


Ascletis Pharma

Read our 2019 interview with CEO Jinzi (Jason) Wu here

Founded in 2013 in Hangzhou

Founder, chairman and CEO: Dr. Jinzi Jason Wu

Therapeutic areas of focus: virology, hepatology, oncology, COVID-19

Commercial products: two in China (Ganovo® for HCV and Pegasys® for HBV, both in-licensed from Roche)


Their first commercial product, Ganovo®, is the first direct-acting anti-viral agent (DAA) for Hepatitis C to have been developed outside of the U.S., boasting an impressive 97 percent cure rate in line with market leader Gilead’s products. Another HCV treatment, NS5A, in-licensed from U.S. biotech Presidio Pharmaceuticals, is currently under priority review by China’s NMPA. Ascletis’ 2019 revenues were CNY 154 million (USD 21.8 million).



Beigene (listed on NASDAQ in 2016)

Founded in 2010 in Beijing

Co-founder, chairman and CEO: John V. Oyler

Therapeutic areas of focus: Immuno-oncology

Commercial products: four in China (Baize’an®, Revlimid®, Abraxane®, Vidaza® – the last three in-licensed from Celgene) and one in the U.S. (Brukinsa™)


In November 2019, Beigene announced a USD 2.7 billion deal with Amgen for the commercialization and development in China of Amgen’s XGEVA® (denosumab), KYPROLIS® (carfilzomib), and BLINCYTO® (blinatumomab), and the joint global development of 20 oncology assets in Amgen’s pipeline, with BeiGene responsible for development and commercialization in China. As part of this deal, Amgen also took a 20.5 percent stake in Beigene. Beigene’s 2019 revenues were USD 428.21 million.



Hua Medicine

Read our 2019 interview with founder, executive director, CEO and CSO, Li Chen here

Founded in 2011 in Shanghai

Founder, executive director, CEO and CSO: Dr. Li Chen

Therapeutic area of focus: diabetes, CNS

Lead asset: HMS5552 (in-licensed from Roche)


Their lead candidate is a fourth-generation dual-acting glucokinase activator designed to control the progressive degenerative nature of diabetes by restoring glucose homeostasis in people with Type 2 diabetes.



Innovent Biologics

Read our 2018 interview with founder, chairman and CEO, Michael Yu here

Founded in 2011 in Suzhou

Founder, executive director, chairman, president and CEO: Dr. Michael Yu Dechao

Therapeutic areas of focus: oncology, autoimmune and metabolic diseases

Commercial products: one in China (Tyvyt®, anti-PD-1, joint development with Eli Lilly)


Their first commercial product, Tyvyt®, approved in December 2018, is the only PD-1 inhibitor to have been included on the National Reimbursement Drug List (NRDL) in China. Tyvyt®’s 2019 sales were a whooping RMB 1.02 billion (USD 140 million). In 2015, Innovent formed a strategic collaboration with Eli Lilly to develop and commercialize at least three oncology therapies over the next decade, which was expanded in 2019 to include China rights to a potentially best-in-class diabetes compound in mid-stage clinical development.



Junshi Biosciences

Founded in 2012 in Shanghai

Executive director, CEO and GM: Dr. Li Ning (joined 2018)

Therapeutic area of focus: oncology, autoimmune and metabolic diseases

Commercial products: one in China (Tuoyi®, anti-PD-1)


Their first commercial product, Tuoyi®, is the first locally-developed PD-1 inhibitor approved by China’s National Medical Products Administration (NMPA), narrowly beating Innovent’s Tyvyt® by a few days. Tuoyi®’s 2019 sales were a significant RMB 775 million (USD 110 million). Earlier this week, Junshi also announced a partnership with Eli Lilly to develop COVID-19 antibody therapies, including Junshi’s JS016, a fully-human monoclonal neutralizing antibody. In March 2020, Junshi was approved to list on the Shanghai STAR Market, which would make it the first biotech company to be dual-listed on both HKEX and Shanghai STAR Market.



CStone Pharmaceuticals

Founded in 2016 in Shanghai

Chairman & CEO: Dr Frank Jiang (joined 2016)

Therapeutic area of focus: oncology

Lead asset(s): CS3007 (in-licensed from Blueprint Medicines), CS3010 (in-licensed from Agios Pharmaceuticals) – both already approved by the U.S. FDA


CStone Pharmaceuticals is especially focused on immuno-oncology combination therapies. Its portfolio comprises both in-licensed assets from U.S. biotechs like Agios Pharmaceuticals and Blueprint Medicines, as well as internally-developed assets, including its flagship anti-PD-1 candidate, CS1003.



CanSino Biologics

Founded in 2009 in Tianjin

Cofounder, chairman & CEO: Dr. YU Xuefeng

Therapeutic area of focus: vaccines

Commercial products: one approved in China (Ad5-EBOV Ebola vaccine)


Cansino Biologics is the only company on the list working in vaccines. Notably, it developed (together with the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology) and commercialized a vaccine for Ebola virus in October 2017, and it is currently working on a vaccine for COVID-19; its Ad5-nCoV vaccine candidate has been named a top contender by the World Health Organization and is the most advanced DNA vaccine against COVID-19 at the moment.




Founded in 2018 in Taizhou

CEO and executive director: Dr. Weizhu QIAN (appointed 2016)

Therapeutic area of focus: oncology, respiratory and autoimmune diseases

Lead asset(s): CMAB007 (in-house)


Technically spun-out in 2018, Mabpharm is the youngest company on the list but its leadership team has been working on their three core assets since 2002 through different biotech companies. Unusually, CEO Dr. Weizhu QIAN has spent her entire career in China including nearly two decades at the Cancer Institute of the People’s Liberation Army Navy Medical University. Their lead asset CMAB007 is indicated for asthma and an NDA application was filed in December 2019.



Henlius Biotech

Founded in 2010 in Shanghai

Cofounder and CEO: Dr. Scott Liu

Therapeutic area of focus: oncology

Commercial products: one in China (Hanlikang®)


Henlius Biotech is part of Fosun Pharmaceutical, one of the largest Chinese pharmacos. Their first commercial product, Hanlikang®, approved in February 2019, is the first China-developed biosimilar to be approved in the country, for Riche’s Rituxan® . Hanlikang®’s 2019 sales were RMB 79 million (USD 11.2 million). They also have a product, HLX02, under review with the European Medicines Agency (EMA); European rights for this product have been out-licensed to Accord Healthcare.



Ascentage Pharma

Read our 2019 interview with chairman and executive director Dajun Yang here 

Founded in 2009 in Suzhou

Founder, chairman, executive director & CEO: Dr YANG Dajun

Therapeutic area of focus: oncology, cardiovascular and age-related diseases

Lead asset: HQP1351 (in-house)


In May 2020, HQP1351 received Orphan Drug Designation (ODD) from the U.S. FDA. Ascentage Pharma focuses specifically on small molecule therapeutics targeting protein-protein interactions (PPIs) in apoptosis pathways. Its portfolio comprises eight potential ‘first-in-class’ or ‘best-in-class’ assets in Phase I/II clinical development.



TOT Biopharma

Founded in 2009 in Suzhou

Executive director and general manager: Ms Yeh-Huang, Chun-Ying (joined 2010)

Therapeutic area of focus: oncology

Lead asset(s): TAB008, TOZ309 (both in-house)


TOT Biopharma has a balanced portfolio of both small and large molecules; they retain all global rights to their seven biologic assets. Their lead biologic asset, TAB008, is a biosimilar drug candidate for Roche’s Avastin®. Their lead generic asset, TOZ309, is a generic of MSD’s chemotherapy drug, Temodar®. They are also marketing S-1, an oncology drug from Taiho Pharmaceutical, in China.



SinoMab BioScience

Read our 2017 interview with CEO Dr Dhawn Leung here

Founded in 2001 in Hong Kong

Founder, chairman, CEO: Dr. Shawn Shui On Leung

Therapeutic area of focus: immunology and oncology

Lead asset: SM03 (in-house)


SinoMab is the only Hong Kong-based company on the list. It was incubated at and is still based at the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park, an encouraging sign that the Hong Kong government’s investment into biomedical innovation is gradually paying off. Chairman and CEO Dr. Leung also sits on the Biotech Advisory Panel of HKEX.



Alphamab Oncology

Read our interview with founder, chairman and CEO Xu Ting here

Founded in 2008 in Suzhou

Founder, chairman, president & CEO: Dr. Ting XU

Therapeutic area of focus: oncology

Lead assets: KN035 (in-house)


In January 2020, KN035 was awarded ODD from the U.S. FDA. Alphamab has also announced a number of global partnerships, including a clinical supply collaboration with Pfizer for a combination study of KN036 with Pfizer’s Ibrance®, and a development and commercialization agreement for KN035 with Chinese partner 3D Medicines and U.S. biotech TRACON Pharmaceuticals.



Venus Medtech

Founded in 2009 in Hangzhou

Founder and CEO: Zhenjun Zi

Area of focus: cardiovascular medical devices

Commercial products: four products in portfolio


Venus Medtech is the only medical device company on the list. According to Frost & Sullivan, they held a 79.3 percent market share in transcatheter aortic heart valve replacement (TAVR) products in China in terms of implantation volume. Their self-developed VenusA-Valve product is the first TAVR product approved and commercialized in China. Venus Medtech’s 2019 revenues were USD 33.8 million.



InnoCare Pharma

Founded in 2015 in Beijing

Cofounder, chairman and CEO: Dr. Jasmine Cui Jisong

Area of focus: immunology and oncology

Lead assets: ICP-022 (in-house)


Lead asset ICP-022 NDA application accepted in November 2019 with ‘priority review’ status. Rather unusually for Chinese biotechs, InnoCare’s portfolio comprises only proprietary drug candidates for which InnoCare retains all worldwide rights. They have two R&D centers in Beijing and Nanjing, as well as a manufacturing facility in Guangzhou expected to be completed this year.



Akeso Biopharma

Founded in 2013 in Zhongshan

Founder, chairman, president and CEO: Dr. Michelle Xia Yu

Area of focus: oncology and autoimmune diseases

Lead assets: AK105 and AK104 (both in-house)


Akeso Biopharma was the first China-based biotech company to out-license a proprietary monoclonal antibody to a global leading pharmaceutical company: they out-licensed their CTLA-4 antibody (AK107) to Merck for a total consideration of up to USD 200 million in November 2015. In June 2019, they signed an exclusive partnership agreement with Sino Biopharmaceutical, one of the largest Chinese pharmacos, to co-develop and commercialize their lead asset AK105, for which Akeso received USD 48.7 million.



Peijia Medical

Read our interview with Peijia Medical Chairman Michael Zhang here

Founded in 2012 in Suzhou

Founder, Chairman, CEO and CTO: Dr. Michael Yi ZHANG

Area of focus: interventional procedural medical devices for cardiovascular and neurovascular diseases

Commercial products: one of the only four domestic players in China with transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) products


Peijia Medical ranks third in the Chinese transcatheter valve medical device market in terms of number of commercialized and clinical assets, and is also developing second- and third-generation TAVR products.



Kintor Biotech

Founded in 2009 in Suzhou

Founder and CEO: Dr. Youzhi Tong

Area of focus: cancer, other high-incidence diseases

Lead asset: GT0918, KX-826 (both androgen receptor (AR) antagonists)


Kintor’s lead drug candidate, GT0918 (proxalutamide), is undergoing phase III clinical trials in China and phase II clinical trials in the United States for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer, as well as clinical trials for breast cancer. It has also in-licensed an ALK-1 antibody from Pfizer, its first biologic asset.



Ocumension Therapeutics

Founded in 2017 in Shanghai


Area of focus: ophthalmology

Commercial products: two products already approved in China


Founded by 6 Dimensions Capital, Ocumension is intended to be an ophthalmic pharmaceutical platform company dedicated to identifying, developing and commercializing first- or best-in-class ophthalmic therapies. They have already established partnerships with US and Japanese biopharmas including Nicox, EyePoint Pharmaceuticals, Senju and SanBio.



Immunotech Biopharm

Founded in 2006 in Beijing


Area of focus: T-cell immunotherapy, cancer

Lead asset: EAL, an activated autologous lymphocytes (AAL) therapy


EAL is a multi-target cellular immunotherapy product with more than a decade of track record of clinical application in the treatment of cancer. It is the first cellular immunotherapy product approved for Phase II solid tumor trials in China. Immunotech plans to apply for conditional approval by H1 2021.


* This article was originally published on May 12th 2020 and updated on August 5th 2020.