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China’s Medical Supply Chain in Times of Change

Steinbeis Consulting Center produces study on the Chinese biomedical market

The Chinese medical supply market is dictated by an imbalance between the regions of the country along the Pacific coast, which have gained in prosperity, and the provinces in the West, which in many regards are behind the times. More than 200 million migrants have left the West to find jobs in the East. Many of the medical needs of West China are still answered by “peregrine doctors.” Asia Technology Consulting, a Steinbeis Consulting Center based in Stuttgart, recently completed a study for an agency of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy called German Trade and Invest (GTAI). The study provides a detailed profile of the future Chinese biomedical market.

The Chinese government is addressing the regional development imbalances in the country through a growing number of urbanization programs. It is also quickly creating the infrastructure for transportation and business, as well as medical supply structures. Over 90% of the Chinese population already has access to rudimentary health insurance, and the network of provincial hospitals is already being expanded to provide easier access to modern diagnostic treatment, which should also be available in outlying regions thanks to telemedicine. One contributing factor in this respect is the massive progress the nation has made in the field of IT. The country’s BeiDou GPS system will consist of 35 satellites by 2020, and over 600 million Chinese mobile devices and computers are already geared to the independent system.

There are also plans to concentrate over 80% of pharmaceutical production on only four regions by the year 2020. These will be the metropolitan areas in and around Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chengdu. In 2016, these regions only accounted for around 60% of market output. Taking the current 5-year plan as the starting point (2016- 2020), the aim is to establish four clusters encompassing 500 universities and research centers. These should train 150,000 graduates each year. 100 high-tech parks will be constructed, focusing on life sciences and medicine. These will become home to 7,500 bio-enterprises with over 250,000 employees. Working in collaboration with other businesses, the idea is to register more than 3,200 patents for new active ingredients. One third of the ideas should be based on enhancements to traditional Chinese medicine.

To fund this and other major projects, nearly 1,000 state startup funds have been set up, offering around 3,000 billion yuan (approx. 500 billion euros) in capital. Further capital is being made available through state banks, private and foreign funds, and venture capital companies.

The Steinbeis study was based solely on official information issued in Chinese, most of which revolved around the Chinese government’s official strategy laid down in the current 5-year plan. The study also includes short profiles and the website addresses of hundreds of Chinese pharmaceutical companies. It highlights the incredible speed the Chinese government is moving at in restructuring the country. This restructuring presents many different areas of potential to German companies. The Steinbeis Consulting Center Asia Technology Consulting is specialized in assessing the technological framework for such opportunities. This involves sourcing and evaluating information supplied in Chinese.


The 66-page study has been published in English and can be downloaded for free by going to the GTAI website:

Prof. Dr. Rolf Schmid
Steinbeis Consulting Center  Asia Technology Consulting (Stuttgart)