China is focusing its knowledge-based economic development efforts in the biomedical area. Chinese universities have long been highly centralized, but the government is attempting to break down bureaucratic barriers and provide greater incentives to support R&D and biotechnology commercialization. China’s National Development and Reform Commission initiated 20 venture capital funds in 2009, involving seven provincial governments. Biomedical innovation is a key target for these funds.
Another Chinese strategy involves encouraging the reverse migration of human capital from the United States. Beginning in the 1970s, thousands of native Chinese sought graduate degrees in thebiomedical sciences in the U.S. In 2008, there were approximately 2,500 native Chinese life sciences faculty at U.S. universities, and 10 to 20 percent ofscientists at U.S. drug and biotech companies were native Chinese. China is targeting this diaspora of biomedical talent and providing opportunities that will encourage these workers to bring their skills and training home. Some have dubbed returning Chinese scientists “sea turtles.
Ross C. DeVol, Armen Bedroussian, andBenjamin Yeo. The Global Biomedical Industry: Preserving U.S. Leadership ExecutiveSummary & Research Findings.