Thu, Sep 05, 2019 - Page 12 News List

Amgen looking for local partners

By Kao Shih-ching  /  Staff reporter

Academia Sinica President James Liao, second left, and Amgen Inc vice president of therapeutic discovery Philip Tagari, second right, sign a letter of intent for mutual cooperation in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Wu Liang-yi, Taipei Times

US-based biopharmaceutical company Amgen Inc is committed to growing its business in Taiwan by cooperating with more local biotech start-ups to research new and biosimilar drugs, Amgen vice president of therapeutic discovery Philip Tagari said yesterday.

“We emphasize cooperation with scientists outside Amgen and biotech companies, with 51 percent of our innovation coming from outside,” Tagari told the Taipei Times during an interview in Taipei.

The 39-year-old company has about 500 scientists worldwide, but still wants to partner with other companies to monitor and research a variety of drugs, Tagari said.

Amgen is looking for two kinds of partners: biotech companies that can provide new and better treatments for diseases, and technology firms that can offer disruptive services to change the marketplace, he said.

Biotech partners do not need to be large, Tagari said, adding that the company’s Singaporean unit later this year is to partner with a start-up that only has eight employees.

The company needs technology partners, as it cannot underestimate the power of new technology and hopes to upgrade its research and manufacturing, he said.

For example, Amgen’s biotech research has become more efficient since introducing a virtual platform into its US system, he said.

Tagari earlier this year visited 15 Taiwanese start-ups, many of which had great potential, he added.

Amgen yesterday signed a letter of intent with the National Biotechnology Research Park that would see the two sides collaborate in areas including new drug research, the biomedicine value chain and nurturing biotechnology talent.

Amgen would provide courses and seminars on topics such as biologic drug development technology, drug manufacturing, multinational laws and gene decoding for biotech start-ups in the park, Amgen Taiwan general manager Joyce Lee (李宜真) said.

Through the courses, the company hopes to form partnerships with suitable start-ups, Lee added.

Former Academia Sinica president Wong Chi-huey (翁啟惠), who gave a speech at yesterday’s event, urged Amgen to also set up a research and development (R&D) center in Taiwan.

“It has been good for Amgen to cooperate with the park, but it would be better to have an R&D center so scientists and companies could interact more conveniently,” Wong told reporters.

Amgen Taiwan does plan to set up an R&D center as the quality of clinical trials in Taiwan is excellent, but the plan has not yet been finalized, Lee said.

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