Businesses eager to boost biotech industry
With China making substantial moves to advance the expansion of the bioeconomy, global and domestic industry players said they will add more resources to facilitate the upgrading of traditional industries.
These representatives said they intend to inject new impetus across the country into the circular economy－the system based on the reuse and regeneration of materials or products－during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25).
According to the Beijing-based Institute of Industrial Economics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, bioeconomy refers to the use of renewable biological resources, including crops, forests, animals and microorganisms, to produce food, energy and other materials for consumers and production needs.
"We can see great potential for the bio-based economy in China, with a strong policy focus and capital investment. Biotech is positioned as one of the frontier fields of science and technology to enable China's innovation from a long-term perspective," said Lensey Chen, president of the China arm of Novozymes A/S, a Danish provider of biological products.
She said the government's recent introduction of the first five-year growth plan for the bioeconomy is even more targeted and specific, and shines a new spotlight on bio-based economics, characterizing it as a fresh area with great potential for further growth. As more attention is paid to the market, a new generation of the bio-based economy will thrive and make significant contributions to the Chinese economy.
Chen, an expert in enzymes and microbes, said her company will continue to support China's upgrading of traditional industries, such as textile, pulp and wastewater treatment, by reducing water, energy and raw material consumption. It will also help cut carbon emissions in transportation as well as bolster the circular economy by converting agricultural and kitchen waste to bioenergy.
The multinational company, supported by three plants－in Suzhou, Jiangsu province; Tianjin; and Shenyang, Liaoning province－offers products such as enzyme preparations and microbial preparation to clients in the domestic market. But it also ships China-made products used in the detergent industry to countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan and South Korea.
Biotechnology opens the path to a bio-based society in which renewable agricultural residue is converted into biochemicals and is partly a substitute for the role petrochemical industries have played since the Industrial Revolution, said Han Jianxin, a professor at the School of Economics and Management of Beijing University of Chemical Technology.
Bioeconomy industries have grown rapidly in recent times. Shandong Industrial Ceramic Research and Design Institute Co Ltd, a subsidiary of State-owned China National Materials Group Corp Ltd, has made breakthroughs in areas such as 3D-printed dental ceramics, tough and stable silicon nitride implant ceramics used in orthopedics and other related medical materials.
Li Ling, assistant president of the Zibo, Shandong province-based company, said the performance of these products has reached the advanced level of foreign countries and has boosted the industrial application of bioceramic materials technology. That has further reduced China's dependence on the importation of high-end customized products of this type.
Bioceramics, an important branch of biomaterials, are used not only in the clinical repair and replacement of elements of the musculoskeletal system, but also widely in dentistry, plastic surgery, cardiovascular surgery and other fields.
Bristol Myers Squibb Co, a United States-based biopharmaceutical group, plans to launch up to 30 innovative products or applications in the country by 2025 to further enrich its global portfolio in this vital market.
Christopher Boerner, executive vice-president and chief commercialization officer of the company, said that to bolster its expansion, the group will also double its innovation and commercial presence in China by 2025.
China will set up several bioeconomy test zones in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, Yangtze River Delta region, Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and Chengdu-Chongqing economic circle, according to bioeconomy guidelines issued by the government in May.
The document aims to make full use of the relatively complete biological industrial system, solid research foundation, plentiful medical resources and extensive connections with foreign countries shared by advanced regions including Beijing, Chongqing, and Jiangsu and Guangdong provinces. In doing this, it aims to build several bioeconomy innovation hubs in these regions.
For instance, a State-level biomedical industrial cluster will soon be established in Chongqing, supported by five biomedical industrial centers in the Lin-gang Special Area of the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone and four other venues.