Striking a Balance

color = "#DF1F26"; Striking a Balance Combining local market needs with global competitiveness, cutting-edge innovation with product affordability and Eastern with Western culture, leadership of a life science company in China takes flexibility and dynamism. By Victor Shi, Ph.D. I recently attended the “Summer Davos” World Economic Forum (WEF) held in Dalian, China, where the global economic crisis was a central theme. When disc

Victor Shi, Ph.D.
Nov 30, 2009

Striking a Balance

Combining local market needs with global competitiveness, cutting-edge innovation with product affordability and Eastern with Western culture, leadership of a life science company in China takes flexibility and dynamism.

I recently attended the “Summer Davos” World Economic Forum (WEF) held in Dalian, China, where the global economic crisis was a central theme. When discussing the crisis, however, the mood was remarkably upbeat. In fact, the WEF predicts China will be the first country to emerge from the crisis. Germany is expected to be the second due to its close economic ties with China. As a leading German high-tech enterprise in China, QIAGEN is in a unique position to benefit. After all, the Chinese word for crisis (wei ji) is a combination of the characters for danger and opportunity.

Despite the fact that QIAGEN was not an early comer to the Chinese market—we started direct operations in China...

I recently attended the “Summer Davos” World Economic Forum (WEF) held in Dalian, China, where the global economic crisis was a central theme. When discussing the crisis, however, the mood was remarkably upbeat. In fact, the WEF predicts China will be the first country to emerge from the crisis. Germany is expected to be the second due to its close economic ties with China. As a leading German high-tech enterprise in China, QIAGEN is in a unique position to benefit. After all, the Chinese word for crisis (wei ji) is a combination of the characters for danger and opportunity.

Despite the fact that QIAGEN was not an early comer to the Chinese market—we started direct operations in China in 2005—the company has expanded rapidly into almost every facet of biotechnology. Being a young and dynamic company, we have taken strategic and focused approaches to establish a strong presence in the vast and highly complex Chinese market.

The global battle against the H1N1 pandemic is a perfect illustration of the critical importance of speed and standardization.

Science (and disease too) is without borders. More and more cutting-edge research is taking place in China. Chinese scientists demand the latest, standardized tools used by leading research centers around the world. The global battle against the H1N1 pandemic is a perfect illustration of the critical importance of speed and standardization. QIAGEN’s team in China worked around the clock to bring our latest products to central and provincial Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in China and helped CDC labs to establish standardized and accurate surveillance methods.

New advances in molecular diagnostic tools not only provide better and faster detection of pathogens, but also help to save healthcare costs overall. China’s large population presents its own unique disease patterns and healthcare needs. It is particularly important for multinational companies to focus on innovation for the markets and particular healthcare needs of the people they serve. In the past four years, QIAGEN has invested significantly in R&D and manufacturing capabilities in China and is producing high quality molecular diagnostics made in China and for China. This approach has enabled our innovations to be used in everyday patient care in hospitals across the country.

In addition to providing innovative solutions, it is vital that these solutions be affordable and accessible to all people, including those who live outside big cities. China is so vast that foreign companies like QIAGEN must work closely with local partners, the government, NGOs and various other entities to bring life-saving technologies to all. To this end, QIAGEN has developed a new HPV test—called careHPV—that is affordable and can be used in rural villages lacking healthcare infrastructure to detect the risk of cervical cancer and thereby help save lives.

In all of these areas—from the big cities to the countryside, from state-of-the-art laboratories to overburdened hospitals—the needs and opportunities are enormous wherever you look. Multinational companies face risks not only from the external environment (competition, market, emerging health threats) but also from within. Leaders of multinational companies should constantly examine their organizations and business strategy to ensure that they attract the right talents as well as encourage flexibility and speed to manage risks and turn them into opportunities. A successful company must understand and serve local market needs, but at the same time stay competitive on the global stage.

China is complex and fast-changing, there’s always the need to strike a balance—between local business practices and international standards, Eastern and Western culture, cutting-edge innovation and product affordability—in order to effectively bring value to end users. However, trying to keep a balance, a virtue that the Middle Kingdom subscribes to, takes more courage than most people appreciate. In doing so, one often risks being caught right in the middle. But then again, it may take a sufficient amount of people being caught in this position in order to finally bridge these gaps.

Victor Shi is Asia President of QIAGEN