AVIC+Lab represents four components combined with the research lab: Artificial intelligence, Venture capital, Intellectual property, and CROs or CMOs. AVIC+Lab is a creative model addressed by ATLATL Innovation Cluster, which was founded by Kendall Square entrepreneur Dr. P.C. Zhu, who initiated the founding of Mass Innovation Labs (renamed Smartlab). After moving to Shanghai, Dr. Zhu spent two years researching the local life sciences ecosystem together with Alex Zhavoronkov, the founder of a leading AI drug discovery company, Insilico. Together, they designed the unique model in Zhangjiang (like Kendall, or South San Francisco in the US), Shanghai: AVIC+Lab.
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Dr. Zhu began his career in Kendall Square, accumulating tremendous local experience, and is now trying to address the Kendall model in Zhangjiang. “The R&D in Kendall is more advanced,” Dr. Zhu said, “However, Zhangjiang has huge potential for growth. There are more than 20 State Key Labs and prestigious universities, concentrated leading pharmaceutical companies, about 700 biotech companies, and a STEM population of 50,000. In terms of up-scaling, Zhangjiang has more advantages.”
Zhangjiang is the global CRO center, and the “VIC” (Venture Capital, IP, CRO) model is popular among local biotech start-ups: outsourcing research and development to CROs, keeping their workforce lean, and using their capital on product development. Dr. Zhu initiated the VIC+Lab model, and Alex Zhavoronkov added the “A”, stating, “China has advantages in AI, and more drug discovery will address AI in the near term.”
ATLATL offers fully permitted laboratories and office spaces for scientists and entrepreneurs. Based on the AVIC+Lab model, ATLATL has set up R&D assembly lines in order to make research more effective. ATLATL combines its on-site CROs with global giant CRO companies. Co-location CRO services reduce the failure rate of management, communication, and logistics. “This unique model separates research design from bench work, so that different people can each do what they are best at,” Dr. Zhu said. “Talented scientists can focus more on the key research, and technicians can deliver the jobs more efficiently.” Leading VC companies and IP firms joined the ecosystem built by ATLATL. This model attracts not only local innovators and investors, but also scientists worldwide. Global innovators enjoy effective solutions and raise local funds much more easily. IP law firms not only secure their patents, but also provide guidance.
Alex Zhavoronkov said, "I visited many biohubs around MIT and other leading institutions, but ATLATL is taking the integration of the various components of pharma R&D to the next level in the most sophisticated manner. This is a Nobel-grade lab space designed to enable record-breaking innovative drug discovery." ATLATL strives to increase research density and accelerate research commercialization. Innovative teams can jumpstart with turnkey solutions, leverage resources more efficiently, and reach milestones faster than ever. The AVIC+Lab model helps Western companies land in China with low cost and reduced uncertainty.
Shanghai is one of the most enterprising cities, full of talent, energy, and hunger. Facing significant unmet medical needs, China has prioritized reform of the regulatory environment, torn down the barriers of bringing innovations to market, and invested more in the healthcare industry. China will be the world’s largest pharmaceutical market in the near future. “We will embrace the opportunity and expand the AVIC+Lab model to more cities,” Dr. Zhu said. “The ATLATL Innovation Cluster will commercialize global innovations and benefit healthcare not only in China, but around the world.”
[“Atlatl” is a Nahuatl word that means “spear thrower”, which enabled ancient hunters to throw farther and faster, eventually generating greater returns. ATLATL is innovation’s spear thrower — to facilitate innovators’ growth and enhance their ability to reach milestones faster than ever.]