Life sciences firm Esco investing RMB100m in China innovation centre

The Business Times by LISAYANI KRIWANGKO


SINGAPORE-based life sciences company Esco is investing RMB100 million (S$21 million) in a new 20,000 square metre innovation centre in Jiangsu, China, the company announced last Friday.

Scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019, the centre will be an upsize of its current manufacturing facility at the same area.

"As one of the twin pillars of the world economy, China is a strategic market for Esco Group, with our business growing 40 per cent per annum currently," said Lin Xiang Qian, the company's president and chief executive.

"With many unmet medical needs, a large and ageing population, the China healthcare and life sciences market is one of our core focus growth areas," he said.

The latest investment is part of Esco's strategy to further establish its brand globally.

While it mainly serves as a manufacturing house for Esco's life sciences equipment, medical devices, and bioprocess tools, the centre also incubates a number of local biomedical startups.

"China is emerging as a global leader in healthcare. Partnering with local Chinese startups can bring us many new biomedical insights," said Mr Lin.

The centre aims to help startups manufacture and commercialise their new inventions. It also provides them with an in-house R&D lab to facilitate new discoveries.

It will also work closely with Esco Ventures X Incubators, a collaboration with academic institutions to launch startups designed to find solutions for unmet medical demands. Currently there are two established incubators, located in Beijing and Singapore.

With the completion of the facility, Esco Group hopes to further establish its role as a "life science environment builder" by collaborating with institutions such as Henan Province People's Hospital.

To remain competitive, Esco is also focusing on precision medicine technologies.

"Precision is the future of medicine. It is already there (in China) in some way, but there are still many unmet needs," said Mr Lin.