SINGAPORE (Aug 31): Investors and foreign biotech veterans are making their way to China as the government aims to build a healthcare empire.

Jeremy Yee, former CEO of Cordlife Group and now running his second healthcare company Clearbridge Health, hopes to tap into that optimism. He plans to spin off a cancer diagnostics associate company that is aiming to expand into China, and buy more testing laboratories in the region. Yee hopes these moves will help revive investor interest in Clearbridge.

The company was listed last December; its shares hit 63 cents on Feb 1, but have since fallen more than 62% to close at 24 cents on Aug 30 and 14% below its IPO price of 28 cents.

He is betting on China’s population of 1.4 billion as well as the Chinese government’s seemingly more welcoming policies. There have been initiatives to lower regulatory requirements, provide incentives and attract venture capital into the market.

Venture capital investment in Chinese healthcare rose from US$1 billion in 2013 to US$11.7 billion ($16 billion) in 2017, according to McKinsey & Co. The Chinese healthcare sector is expected to grow 12% annually to reach US$1 trillion in 2020, faster than any other country in the world.

Yee’s group may be in a good position to capitalise on this pace of growth, but competition in China is steep.

Find out more in this week’s issue of The Edge Singapore (Issue 846, week of Sept 3), on sale now at newsstands.

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