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New forces seen injecting vitality into economy

Merck is 'well positioned' to join China's sustainable development

By LIU ZHIHUA and OUYANG SHIJIA | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-19 09:39
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A view of Merck's booth during a high-tech expo in Shanghai in August. PHOTO/CHINA DAILY

China's emphasis on fostering new quality productive forces will create more opportunities for companies like Merck, while helping in the transformation of the domestic economy, senior executives of the German sci-tech giant said.

"We are seeing the new quality productive forces as a very good avenue for sustainable economic development. As a leading science technology company with healthcare, life sciences and electronics businesses, Merck believes that we are very well positioned to participate and contribute," said Marc Horn, president of Merck China.

"We're looking at sustainable supply chain, digitalization of business models and artificial intelligence. All these are areas that will be very strong, and we believe we can contribute."

Horn said he is confident and optimistic about the long-term growth prospects of the Chinese economy.

"China is very resilient and has shown that it can transform very rapidly and is on a good trajectory on transformation," he said.

Hong Chow, executive vice-president and head of China and international businesses at Merck Healthcare, said she believes innovation is the core element of new quality productive forces, and that "now, by the new concept, we are even more encouraged".

"Research and development is a lifeblood of our industry because it takes years and billions of dollars to develop new medicines, in a very highly risky way. Now, with this focus, we think there will be more encouragement and more reward for innovation, and we are very excited," Chow said.

She said that, with China accelerating the development of new quality productive forces, there will be more opportunities for collaboration between Merck and Chinese partners in the healthcare sector.

"We actually do not only rely on our own R&D, and we want that half of our medicines come from external collaboration," she said.

Since last year, the company has completed two license-in deals with Chinese companies, bringing Chinese innovations to the global stage and to benefit patients worldwide, she added.

In addition, the company can also tap technologies like AI to make R&D much more productive, she added.

Horn said China's intensified efforts to foster new quality productive forces will offer greater growth opportunities for Merck.

"We have invested 6 billion yuan ($828.83 million) over the past 10 years in China," he said. "We see this as an excellent next step for further investments and partnerships in China."

Looking ahead, he said the company will continue to participate in China through investments and partnerships.

Merck will make more efforts to enlarge its footprint and hire more people in the country, aiming to grow with China, he said.

Both executives said business models in the three sectors where the company operates — life sciences, electronics and healthcare — all require the company to further tap the potential of digital power and make use of technologies like AI.

For instance, the company is helping clients speed up drug discovery and development through AI. It has also been using AI to improve the sustainability of the supply chain as well as production efficiency.

"This really helps us not only to become better in what we are already doing, but also find new opportunities," Horn said.

"Our aim is that we can both tap into the local ecosystem for China, and then also see what we can actually use from China's unique experience for global," he added.

According to the latest Government Work Report, China will move faster to develop new quality productive forces.

Denis Depoux, global managing director of market consultancy Roland Berger, said fostering new quality productive forces means that China is focusing on increasing productivity and the value-added of the Chinese economy.

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