Novartis China head says R&D efforts to grow further with help from returnees

The head of the Novartis ($NVS) unit in China, Novartis Greater China (NGC), believes the company's research-and-development operations are ahead of most competition, giving it a leg up in meeting the demands of aging populations in China and emerging markets.

Chairman Yin Xudong said in an interview with China Daily, however, that China's education system still is unable to produce the people it needs for R&D work, so the company still relies on expatriates and Chinese education abroad. And, he said, NGC expects to continue adding to its R&D staff over the next several years.

Yin was comfortable with where the company was in China R&D because the unit has covered all the main development stages and has in place all it needs to conduct all stages of research as well as mass-produce the result of that work. And, he said, it has a plan to differentiate itself from other drugmakers in China.

Part of that plan is to carry on its global focus on oncology, immunology, neuroscience and other drugs aimed at conditions of the aging in all countries while also finding drugs to treat the chronic conditions and epidemic diseases particular to China and the rest of the emerging markets. One is hepatitis B, he said.

Yin lamented an education system in China that continues to produce people too passive for innovative teamwork, people who do not think for themselves or raise questions and who are unable to learn from their own mistakes. To overcome that, in part, he said, "leadership training goes on regularly."

For now, Yin said, expats comprise 5% of the workforce, but 25% of the force consists of scientists recruited from abroad. The remainder are local, most university graduates, some even with experience working with other companies, he said.

- here's the story from China Daily