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Diagnosing the Market: The Chinese Mainland Life Sciences Sector

Mandy Qian • 13/06/2024
The life sciences industry is continuing to evolve, according to Cushman & Wakefield’s Diagnosing the Market: The Chinese Mainland Life Sciences Sector report. The industry’s development is being supported by a number of factors. Of the more important elements, four include policy, industry growth, population demographic dynamics, and the level of innovation. The report also focuses on the current situation and future prospects of life science industry clusters in China’s four first-tier cities and in Suzhou.
Life Sciences-Related Policy in China
Over time, a number of important life sciences-related policies have been authorized and implemented in China. One of the more important ones is the 14th Five-Year Plan, which has promoted a solid public health system, the expansion of national healthcare insurance, and the further development of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
Life Sciences Industry Growth
Today, when making a global comparison, China’s biopharmaceutical industry maturity level, in terms of genetic engineering and innovative medicine research and development (R&D), has reached or even surpassed the level seen in many other mature-market countries. What’s more, according to estimates from Frost & Sullivan, the total healthcare expenditure in China reached RMB7.6 trillion in 2021 and is expected to achieve and maintain a stable growth in the future at a CAGR of 9.5% to reach RMB13.0 trillion by 2027.
Population Demographics and Life Sciences-Related Citizen Spending Power
Population demographics in China are moving in a favorable direction for life sciences enterprises. As people age, more often than not, an increase in the level of individual healthcare is required. According to Eastspring China, by 2035, China’s aged population (aged 60 and above) is predicted to reach 409 million, representing a 28.5% share of the country’s total population. By 2050, as estimated by the UN, the proportion of ageing people in China will likely exceed that of young and working people.
Moreover, healthcare spending by citizens in China generally and spending as a percentage of GDP have both largely been consecutively increasing on an annual basis in the country from 2010. According to the latest figures from the National Health Commission of the PRC, in 2022, healthcare spending in China equated to 7.05% of the country’s GDP.
The Level of Life Sciences Research and Innovation
Research and innovation are key to cultivating new business opportunities within any industry sector within China, including life sciences. The foundation of research and innovation can be found in universities and the graduates they produce. Also important is the amount spent on the R&D of new products, and in the case of life sciences, these products could range from new medicines to new medical devices – and if these new products are truly ground-breaking, then this can lead to product innovation. China is now one of the world's most important biopharmaceutical markets. By investing in related R&D, China is continually striving to make greater breakthroughs in the quality of medicine and medical equipment.
The Four First Tier City Markets Plus Suzhou
Beijing – Beijing will focus on the development of gene technology, cell therapy, regenerative medicine, brain science, brain-computer interface, synthetic biology and other sub-life sciences industries in Haidian, Shijingshan, Tongzhou, Changping, Daxing, Pinggu, Miyun, Jingkai and other regions to meet the needs of future health and medical care.
Shanghai – Medicine innovation research and development, high-end medical equipment, smart medical treatment, digital healthcare and the incorporation and utilization of AI have become industry development hot spots and Shanghai aims to be a center for these types of life sciences industry advancements over the next few years.
Shenzhen – The entry of large-scale professional industrial parks to incubate and accelerate the development of the biomedical industry will help Shenzhen to innovate and enhance its competitiveness in various professional fields of biomedicine.
Guangzhou – With life sciences being promoted as one of the three emerging pillar industries, by 2025 the sector in the city is expected to achieve an industry output value of RMB210 billion.  
Suzhou – Ahead, given its developmental maturity, Suzhou is expected to continue to draw life sciences-related enterprises in the future.
Andrew Chan, Head of Valuation & Advisory Services, Greater China, Cushman & Wakefield, said, “Life science-related fields such as medical innovation research and development, high-end medical equipment, and the incorporation and utilization of AI into healthcare are booming in China. The new supply of related life sciences industrial parks will help cities in China to continue to attract life sciences-related enterprises and enhance their urban competitiveness.”
Shaun Brodie, Head of Research Content, Greater China, Cushman & Wakefield, said, “Benefiting from favorable policies, demographics, increasing citizens' spending power, and wider medical insurance coverage, China's life sciences industry will continue to grow. AI will also be used more in medical products, device imaging and information technology to ensure effective patient diagnosis and this will benefit of industry growth in China as well.” 
Please click here to download the full report.
About Cushman & Wakefield
Cushman & Wakefield (NYSE: CWK) is a leading global commercial real estate services firm for property owners and occupiers with approximately 52,000 employees in nearly 400 offices and 60 countries. In 2023, the firm reported revenue of $9.5 billion across its core services of property, facilities and project management, leasing, capital markets, and valuation and other services. It also receives numerous industry and business accolades for its award-winning culture and commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), sustainability and more. For additional information, visit 


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