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By Marie Daghlian

WuXi PharmaTech (NYSE:WX) has launched a $50 million corporate venture fund as it positions itself to be at the forefront of China’s growing importance as a center for biopharmaceutical R&D services. The startup-focused fund will give China’s largest contract research organization a window on new technologies.

The Shanghai-based CRO announced the fund in its third quarter earnings report. “This fund will invest in technologies and life-sciences companies to enhance our platform capabilities and to help great minds realize the potential of their technologies and intellectual property,” said Ge Li, chairman and CEO of WuXi. “Through the fund’s investments, WuXi expects to benefit from appreciation in value of the companies invested in and from access to these technologies and collaborations, including new revenue-generating opportunities.”

WuXi’s corporate venture fund made its first investment in September, participating in the initial $50 million funding of Hua Medicine, a local drug developer that plans to in-license drugs from western countries for development and commercialization in China. Ge Li is co-founder of Hua along with Li Chen, a Chinese expatriate who returned to the country in 2004 to set up an R&D lab for Roche.

Although late to the game, the CRO industry has been growing rapidly in China. WuXi seeks to be on top of that growth curve, offering pharmaceutical customers a one-stop shop for integrated technology and services.

Source: WuXi Forms $50 Million Venture Fund