Advancing Towards the Healthcare of Tomorrow
Sep 29, 2022
10 mins

In this, the first part of our “Connecting Capital with Opportunities” series, we take a look at the key points from HKEX’s fifth Biotech Summit on September 1, 2022, which brought together industry leaders, government officials, investors and world-class scientists to explore how to connect capital with opportunities and fuel the ideas and innovations that will shape the global health agenda of tomorrow.

Opening the Biotech Summit, HKEX Chairman Laura M Cha said "Biotech is exciting because its evolution will have a profound impact on everyone. It will help address global challenges such as climate change, food security, aging societies, infectious diseases (and) it will redefine human healthcare. In short, it will help shape the future of humanity."

Ugur Sahin, Co-Founder and CEO, BioNTech expanded on that theme in his keynote presentation in which he said “making the seemingly impossible possible is the magic that science can do, and I strongly believe that it is why biotech will forge the future of medicine.”

GBA & Hong Kong: Silicon Valley next to Wall Street

Laura Cha stressed Hong Kong’s unique position in driving the biotech sector in its position at the heart of the Greater Bay Area.

The Greater Bay Area is becoming a world-class innovation hub, with Hong Kong as its IFC. This is Silicon Valley right next to Wall Street.

Lillian Cheong, Under Secretary for Innovation, Technology and Industry, HKSAR Government, continued the innovation theme by giving a speech that highlighted the exciting emergence of research clusters in Hong Kong with support from government policies, HKEX’s listing reforms, rich talent pools and Hong Kong’s world-renowned status as an IFC.

HKEX’s biotech franchise: celebrating success, charting the future

Following on from Lillian, HKEX CEO Nicolas Aguzin gave a speech surmising the success of the 2018 listing reforms in bringing nearly 100 biotech and healthcare listings to HKEX’s Main Board, raising close to HK$260 billion, or a fifth of global IPO raising in the sector between 2018 and the end of 2021.

Looking ahead, Nicolas emphasized how HKEX is committed to expanding its vibrant market ecosystem by enhancing liquidity by encouraging wider analyst coverage, broadening the product suite with additional ETFs with 18A inclusion, facilitating the development of structured products and derivatives for 18A stocks, and supporting issuers through their corporate lifecycles.

To learn how HKEX’s markets have become deeper and more diverse since our listing reforms, read the latest issue of IPO Express here.

In a fireside chat with Nisa Leung, Managing Partner of Qiming Venture Partners, Nicolas added

We will continue to diversify our markets and cater to the funding needs of other large-scale advanced technologies companies which are at an early stage of product commercialisation, including healthcare companies.
Nisa stated that she believes that these enhancements will position HKEX well for the future because "in China, a lot more investment is going into companies in the health care sector at an early development stage, such as in seed rounds, pre-Series A rounds. There were 630 private deals in H1 2022, so we see a nice supply of companies maturing in the next three, five and seven years that could potentially list in Hong Kong and other markets."

China is driving biotech and healthcare innovation

Many companies in China are producing the innovative ideas and business models that are driving the global healthcare sector, which adds a fascinating new dimension to China’s position as a fast-growing end-market and a highly advanced manufacturing base, according to Leon Wang, Executive Vice President, International and China President at AstraZeneca.

According to Bin Li, Founder and CIO of Lake Bleu Capital "the Covid-19 pandemic was a reality check, China showed itself to be one of the few countries with technologies covering the whole spectrum of Covid-19-related products from the low-end, such as medical hygiene and diagnostic products, to the high-end, such as ventilators and monitors."

Jianmin Fang, Co-Founder, CEO and CSO of RemeGen, spoke about how listing in Hong Kong gave his company a huge boost. "Listing in Hong Kong helped support our research and development, and it also helped us go global by raising our profile and connecting our company with opportunities overseas." In 2021, RemeGen signed an exclusive global licensing and development deal worth an estimated US$2.6bn with Seagen to commercialise its antibody drug conjugate for cancer treatment.

Still lots of room for growth

Despite the rapid growth of this sector in recent years, the industry looks set to continue its growth trajectory, and Hong Kong’s healthcare market is at the forefront of this.

In a panel examining the development of healthcare markets around the world, Iris Ting Wang, Founding Partner and Chief Investment Officer of TruMed Investment, said “the Hong Kong market is at a very different development stage. What happened recently in Hong Kong is very similar to what happened in the U.S. fifteen-to-twenty years ago. Over the years, the U.S. biotech market has seen several cycles, and what we see in Hong Kong capital market is just part of the very first cycle.”

Portfolio Manager Zhan Zhang from E Fund Management sees growing demand for biotech-related ETFs saying "with China’s rapidly aging population, investors see increasing demand for healthcare products and treatments and solutions. We are expecting interest in Biotech ETFs to continue to prosper over time."

Many new developments to watch out for

Closing the summit, analysts, company leaders and entrepreneurs presented on new innovations, emerging trends and fast-growing sub-sectors within healthcare.

Panelists expected leading-edge technologies in artificial intelligence, brain-computer interface, cloud and data analysis to be highly influential in the healthcare sector in the coming years while, on the product side, gene & cell therapies, SIRNA, AI drug developments and artificial organs are key areas to watch.

This all adds up to an exciting future for the biotech and healthcare sector. With innovation taking centre stage and with further reforms in the pipeline, there are significant opportunities to attract an even more diverse range of healthcare and life science companies to Hong Kong and HKEX’s markets, strengthening the city’s role as a leading biotech hub.