Hong Kong biochemist finds entrepreneurial success in Greater Bay Area

2021-04-20 Xinhua Editor:Li Yan
Poon Hung-fai, founder of Quacell Biotechnology Co., Ltd. (Xinhua/Xu Hongyi)

Poon Hung-fai, founder of Quacell Biotechnology Co., Ltd. (Xinhua/Xu Hongyi)

Poon Hung-fai, from Hong Kong, says his comfort zone is on both sides of the Pacific. He naturally switches between Mandarin, Cantonese and English when necessary.

Poon was raised in Hong Kong and received his doctorate in the United States. The biochemist has anchored his entrepreneurship in the Chinese city of Zhongshan in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA). He said that as a scientist, all his choices are made based on first-hand data and rational thinking.

"The experience of studying and working abroad broadened my horizon and, more importantly, made me notice the broad prospects of the biomedical industry in the Chinese mainland," he said.

But he was hesitant at first. Before his move, he was already a senior researcher at a well-known U.S. biotechnology company and a technical director for the Asia-Pacific region.

However, a word from his father helped him reach his decision. "My father once came to visit me in the United States and stayed for half a year. Before he left, he told me that he could not communicate with his grandson because the child could not speak Chinese."

In 2012, he joined a mainland pharmaceutical company as its technical director and chief scientist.

"There is a great demand for biotechnology talent in the mainland. And I think I will develop better in a cultural background that's familiar to me," he said.

His subsequent work experience further convinced him that the biomedical industry in the mainland has huge development potential, and he elected to start his own business.

Poon chose the research and development of culture media, a key raw material in the biomedical industry, as his entrepreneurial direction.

He said the supply of culture media is basically monopolized by large foreign enterprises. The delivery period is long, and the product quality is unstable. It is easily affected by external factors, which is a big constraint for Chinese pharmaceutical enterprises.

After some consideration, he set his eyes on the GBA and established Quacell Biotechnology Co., Ltd.

"I am very familiar with the area, and it is very reassuring to live here with my family." He said the local government was very professional, knowing what he was doing and how to help.

He said that over the past five years, the GBA has witnessed rapid development in the biomedical sector. "For scientific and technological enterprises, lock in the GBA market as early as possible is of great significance so as to tap into the domestic and international markets in the future.

In 2019, the Chinese government introduced the outline of its development plan for the GBA, supporting Zhongshan in its promotion of biomedical science and technology innovation. Poon became ever more confident about his company.

His team has grown from 12 people to more than 100, and the company has grown from a research and development laboratory of 900 square meters to an innovative service platform of nearly 10,000 square meters. It has won the recognition and trust of nearly 100 biopharmaceutical and biotechnology enterprises at home and abroad, obtaining investment from many well-known venture capital institutions.

Looking back on his own experience, Poon said it was important for young people in Hong Kong to broaden their horizons by going to the mainland to see the developments and changes there.

"The bias exists for a reason because the change here has been so drastic for the last 20 years," said Poon.

He said young people in Hong Kong should look at things with an open mind and make their own judgments using their personal experience.

"The GBA bus has set off. Jump on or you will miss all the opportunities," he said. 

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