Shenzhen International Life Science and Health Industry Summit

Shenzhen, China

November 11, 2016

Thank you, Dr. Chen for putting this symposium together.  I am honored to be a part of this program.  Thank you all for participating.   

Looking around the room and seeing familiar faces this far away from Massachusetts is a testament to the spirit of collaboration and discovery.  

In this spirit of relationship building, I bring greetings and welcome from the Mayor of Boston, Martin J. Walsh, who has officially invited you to Boston and has pledged his support to collaborate with Shenzhen.

We are living in a world where, through technology, borders have been virtually erased. In order for us as a global society to move forward, it is critical to understand that the problems that we face as individual nations, are, at their core, the same problems facing others around the globe.

One discovery in a lab at the University of Massachusetts Medical school by Dr. Craig Mello, who is with us today, has global implications on the health and well being of people, not just residents of Massachusetts or citizens of the United States– his work effects all of us.

As we continue to adapt to a global society, we must think in those terms.  And with that thought process comes the opportunity and obligation of collaboration.  

By researchers and innovators coming together, we not only grow a stronger economic base, but we create a collaborative environment that will change lives  – that will allow us to treat and cure or even prevent today’s most vexing and deadly diseases.

In 2008, Massachusetts took a calculated risk- putting our focus and efforts behind what we saw as the next economic evolution within the United States and around the globe – the innovation sector.

As the foundation of our commitment, the Commonwealth pledged $1 billion over 10 years to seed and expand the cornerstone of the innovation sector—our life sciences industry – creating the Massachusetts Life Science Center – an agency tasked with incentivizing and fostering a business climate that would attract the industry.

While the initiative had broad support, there were also critics – not a big surprise when you take this kind of step forward and back it with a major infusion of money.   Some people thought it was too risky.

Many thought Massachusetts was too small and new to the industry to compete against the more established markets of New York and California.  

But we were confident that because of our state’s trailblazing history and the wealth of intellectual capital, we had the tools we needed to succeed and reshape our economy.

While we may not have natural resources, what we do have is an educated workforce, a vibrate culture of research and innovation and world-class education system including a top-notch public university system.

Even with the confidence in what we had, we knew there was the risk of these efforts not succeeding. But without the risk you cannot reap the rewards.

Since that commitment, we have seen nothing but greater and greater success in the innovation sector and particularly in the life science industry – drawing global corporations to Massachusetts; encouraging a robust entrepreneurial climate and spurring ever-growing venture capital investment.

We are now seeing that the economic climate we have fostered with life sciences is gaining significant traction in other industries such as medical devices and health care technology.

To give you a snapshot of the life science industry in Massachusetts-

Since 2007, Massachusetts has seen over 9 million square feet of commercial lab space added, with 4 million square feet of that space being added since 2013.

Venture investment in the biotech industry in Massachusetts totaled $2.1 billion- 28 percent of all the venture capital in the US industry.

We had 13 IPO’s from Massachusetts companies in 2015, and 7 more in the first half of 2016 totaling over $1.4 billion.

Massachusetts- headquartered companies have developed therapies that focus on patient populations of over 1.8 billion people around the world.  Nearly ¼ of the world’s population.

Seventeen of the world’s top 20 biopharma companies have a physical presence in Massachusetts, as do all of the top 10 medical device and therapeutics firms.

This is in a state of only 6.69 million people (14th in the US in population)

As Massachusetts moves further out in front with research and innovation in life sciences and health care technology, it is essential that we welcome and encourage global partnerships and collaboration.  

We started to open these doors further in the final economic development bill the legislature passed under my tenure as Senate President.  One of the highlights of this legislation was the creation of the Global Entrepreneur in Residence Program.

This program allows foreign graduates of our universities who are launching start ups to apply for H-1B visas.  In the last 2 years we have had 67 entrepreneurs apply -23 of those were accepted and received H-1B visas.   These entrepreneurs’ companies have raised a total of $185.5 million in private investment, and have 416 employees.

But there is no question that we can do more to find and foster international partnerships.

I am confident there is real potential for meaningful opportunities to collaborate for Massachusetts and China in terms of health care and life sciences research and development.

I truly believe that no one has the only answer.  We can and must learn from each other in terms of innovation and best practices. And, through that discovery we don’t just invent another wheel, we create a better one.

I think that a perfect example of this is the emerging emphasis in the United States on holistic medicine.   For far too long, western medicine was focused on solving the patient’s particular health problem – not looking at how to treat the whole person to prevent the issue.  This mind- shift is much more in line with eastern medicine, and frankly makes far more sense because people are healthier and subsequently the cost of health care is driven down.


Looking globally at health care, it is clear that no system is the answer, our private insurance system lends itself to people slipping through the cracks or avoiding care because of the cost, and then presenting with far more complicated issues than if they had sought medical attention earlier.  

Socialized medicine provides everyone with basic health care, but there are significant wait times, and in some cases prioritization of care based on age and procedure.  

In 2006, Massachusetts became a trailblazer in the United States, passing the first health care reform legislation in the country.  This legislation, which became the initial blueprint for our national health care reform, required every resident to have health insurance.   As a result, today, approximately 97 percent of Massachusetts’ residents have health insurance.  

However, even with this and subsequent health care cost containment bills, the cost of health care is still far too high.

I have had the opportunity to speak around the world about health care in Massachusetts, and no matter where I am, and regardless of the health care delivery system, the one thing we have in common is the continually rising cost of health care.

As populations age and treatments become more personalized, there is greater burden on governments in terms of health care costs.   So the question continues to be, how do we continue the essential research and discovery and at the same control costs?

I believe that collaboration and innovation can help this common issue.  

If we are able to work together to find the solutions to chronic illness and treatment, people will be healthier and costs will reflect that shift.

And, working with you here in China just makes sense.  As the first and 3rd most populous nations in the world respectively, the work we do together on discovery and delivery of health care will affect the whole globe.

We can achieve this by fostering and growing our existing partnerships, like the one here with Dr. Mello, as well as exploring other ways through research, academia, economic development and investment where we can find common interest and ground.

For example, through connections I made with the Northwest of Ireland, we were able to set up a program through the University of Massachusetts Lowell M2D2 medical device incubator with the Letterkenny Institute of Technology and Clinical Translation Research and Innovation Center in Derry, Northern Ireland.

This program allows Medical Device entreprenures the opportunity to have space based in both Europe and the US to develop their products.

This kind of partnership not only fosters and encourages innovation and development, it provides a support system to help entrepreneurs through the regulatory processes unique to each area and bring systems and solutions to a broader market more quickly and efficiently.

I believe we can find these kinds of partnerships along with research collaborations and the exchange of best practices that will benefit both Massachusetts and the United States as a whole and China.

Regardless of our background or where we live, we are all citizens of the world.  

With that bond, we need to be able to break down the barriers that have held us apart, and reach across to each other.  

If we are able to do that, and I believe we are, we will make the lives of every person better.

When we put our minds to it -If we take the opportunity to look outside the box find common goals and create real opportunities to collaborate and invest, there is no question that it will benefit both regions and the entire globe.

The opportunities for collaboration are only limited by our own minds.

Thank you.