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March 30, 2017

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Biotech leader continues fast innovation

Roche Group looks to grow and change with the country's ever-evolving healthcare industry

Global biotechnology company Roche Group is committed to driving innovation forward in China, which offers a market of 1.3 billion people. With its research and development capabilities in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics, the company has positioned itself to promote personalized healthcare and contribute to China's precision medicine initiatives. Roche's CEO Severin Schwan shared his insights with China Daily reporter Wang Hongyi.

Could you describe Roche's R&D capacity, both globally and in China? What partnerships has Roche already built here?

As a world-leading biotechnology company, we are very much led by science and driven by innovation. We lead the industry with advances in personalized healthcare and our strong oncology portfolio.

R&D receives a greater share of our spending than marketing. On the group level, we spent 9.5 billion Swiss francs ($9.7 billion) on R&D in 2015, which was 19 percent of our turnover. We have consistently been among the top five R&D spenders worldwide, in any industry, since 2009.

Today, we have more than 330 employees in R&D in China. Over the past decades, we've trained a group of outstanding interdisciplinary researchers, leading to highly promising results through collaborations with Chinese companies and academic institutions.

What are your expectations for the new innovation center in Shanghai, which had its groundbreaking ceremony last week?

Last year, we invested 860 million yuan ($126.7 million) in constructing the new laboratory building for the innovation center in Shanghai. The new facility will provide 220 modular workspaces in 14,000 square meters of floor space. We expect it to be completed in 2018.

The focus of our innovation center is very much aligned with the diseases that have a high unmet medical need in China, such as Hepatitis B, which is one of the most prominent diseases in the country.

We hope the new innovation center will spur collaboration between Roche and local research institutions, helping to attract top research talents from both China and overseas.

Our aim is to develop outstanding new drugs for patients in Asia and around the world, and address the currently unmet needs of patients with infectious diseases and those related to immunology and inflammation, thus enhancing our long-term commitment to driving innovation in China.

What is Roche's position on personalized healthcare?

Personalized healthcare is about providing the right treatment for the right patient at the right time. With our combined strength in diagnostics and pharmaceuticals, we are uniquely positioned to further advance personalized healthcare.

In 2006, we made personalized healthcare central to our Roche Group Strategy. This focuses on integrating the knowledge in our pharmaceuticals and diagnostics divisions, and drawing on this knowledge throughout the R&D process, from early research to approval of new diagnostic tests and medicines, as well as their use by patients.

So far, we are the top player in oncology and in vitro diagnostics, drawing from decades of experience in molecular biology.

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