Updated on 24 January 2013
Mr David Friesen, a writer and editor, has been living in China since 2005. His current roles include managing editor of China-Britain Business FOCUS, copy editor for LittleStar magazine and contributor to Global Times and CKGSB Knowledge. Mr Abe Sauer has written for Ad Age, Esquire, The Atlantic and numerous other magazines and books. He first came to China in 1987 and later studied at Beijing University
Over the last thirty years, China's growth has been fuelled in part by the rapid and dynamic development of its industrial parks or development zones. Significant investment in both physical and administrative development in these zones has allowed industry to flourish, bringing about success for both domestic and international companies.
One such industry where this change is keenly felt is the pharmaceutical industry. Since 1984 when pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline established its first China joint venture (Sino-American Tianjin Smith Kline & French Laboratories), industrial zones in China have been able to provide the conditions for success for the world's most powerful and innovative pharmaceutical companies.
Tianjin, where the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area (TEDA) has spent the past 28 years leading the way in terms of development and innovation, is one of the biggest cities in Northern China. TEDA has also been named China's top industrial zone every single year by the Ministry of Commerce since 1998.
It is no coincidence that, in 1995, GlaxoSmithKline established SmithKline Beecham again in Tianjin. Towards the end of 2012, Lundbeck, a Denmark-based pharmaceutical firm, has invested US$9.5 million to open a modestly sized facility in the same city.
But how can this industrial zone continue to attract the best and the brightest within the pharmaceutical industry, given the challenges and high standards required by these companies to maintain success over time?
In recent years, perhaps the biggest challenge has been to overcome the problems of the global financial crisis, and how this makes a variety of companies and industries more reluctant to invest. Whereas traditionally an industrial zone might focus on attracting big name companies to invest, with the dip in the market this was not always possible. Instead, there has been a shift to developing the entire industrial chain, making it easier and more attractive for companies to invest in a region.