Denmark’s Lundbeck has added to the growing influx of pharmaceutical research and development capital into China by setting up its own research centre in Shanghai.

The initiative is the culmination of Lundbeck’s efforts over the last 10 years to establish and expand its research network in China, the company said.

The new centre will make it much easier to strike further research partnerships with businesses and universities in China and Asia, by sending “a very strong signal about our deep commitment to the Chinese research environments and authorities”, Lundbeck explained.

“Having a direct presence with our own research centre, we will have the best chances of achieving the huge potential available in China and Asia,” commented Peter Høngaard Andersen, senior vice president and head of external scientific relations & patents.

With an initial quotient of more than 30 employees dedicated to medical-chemical research, the Shanghai facility will supplement Lundbeck’s existing research centres in Europe and the US, “thus completing the company's global platform for research alliances”, it noted.

Broader strategy

The new centre is also part of a broader R&D strategy geared to the discovery and development of medicines targeting the underlying mechanisms of brain disorders.

The strategy requires “comprehensive” research into the brain and its disease biology/mechanisms, a challenge Lundbeck is addressing by stepping up its commitment to external research collaborations. “Personal relations, networks and an own local presence are key prerequisites for achieving this,” the company said.

Until now, Lundbeck has operated in China by outsourcing various research assignments to local Chinese contract research organisations (CROs) – which it expects to continue doing in some areas.

As the new research centre will mainly be taking up work currently outsourced to China, the initiative will not have any direct consequences for the company’s other research centres, it stressed.

Build relationships

Heading up the Shanghai facility will be Dr. Zheng Li, who will build relationships with leading academic institutions in China and help Lundbeck to establish contacts with CROs throughout the country, the company noted.

Shanghai has a strong medical science tradition and nowadays forms the centre of “one of China’s most powerful clusters of medical research players”, with numerous international pharmaceutical groups and reputable universities operating out of the city, Lundbeck pointed out.

IFU input

The new research centre is a collaboration with the Copenhagen-based Investment Fund for Developing Countries (IFU), which has helped Lundbeck with advisory services and funding.

The IFU advises Danish companies and co-invests with them in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Investments are made on commercial terms in the form of share capital and loans to project companies.

The collaboration also includes a small packaging facility for Lundbeck’s finished goods in China, which will be ready for commissioning in 2012.