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Germany's Merck plans expansion at Chinese R&D hubs

Additions next year will improve drug research capabilities in key market

Merck sees China eventually accounting for one-fifth to a quarter of the global biopharmaceutical market.   © AP

GUANGZHOU -- German drugmaker Merck will add and expand research facilities in China and start offering support to pharmaceutical startups there next year, aiming to bolster local development in a promising growth market.

The company will open a new research and development center next September in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province. The Guangdong Innovation Hub is to carry out advanced pharmaceutical and life-science research.

"China is a major innovation hot spot and one of our most important growth markets," Merck executive board member Kai Beckmann said at a signing ceremony for the Guangzhou facility this month.

Merck will also expand a recently opened center in Shanghai for basic pharmaceutical technologies, building it into a core research hub with more than 20 scientists and engineers. In addition, it will establish a new life sciences center in Nantong, Jiangsu Province, where it has drugmaking facilities.

The company will launch a twice-a-year startup accelerator program as well, aiming to sniff out promising enterprises in their early stages. Merck will select five to eight pharmaceutical startups in cities like Guangzhou and Shanghai for each three-month program, offering support on tasks like drawing up business plans.

In China, Merck develops and manufactures biopharmaceuticals and high-performance materials for organic light-emitting diode displays. The company expects the Chinese biopharmaceutical market to grow rapidly and eventually account for around 20% to 25% of the global market.

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