China is not only a cheaper place to produce, it is also a cheaper place to make research, and gradually Chinese research scientists are reaching the level of Western standards. There is a clear economic advantage here which Novo Nordisk has discovered.
»When you hire Chinese schientists who have been educated at one of the leading Chinese universities their salary is below half the salary of a Western research scientist – and their level compares favourably with the Western level,« Mads Krogsgaard, Executive Vice President and Chief Science Officer at Novo Nordisk, told borsen.dk.
The vast majority of the Novo research scientists in China are Chinese. Most often the research managers have studied at a foreign prestige university. And the research scientists who return home from USA or other Western countries will also receive a salary at Western level.
»They need to have an international mindset in order to hold these management positions. The important thing is to get the best people for the jobs and not the cheapest. But most often their employees have attended the Chinese universities,« Mads Krogsgaard said.
When questioned why Novo Nordisk does not move all research activities to China, Mads Krogsgaard replied:
»There are still some competitive considerations which mean that we do not want to move our research out of Denmark. For example, we do not want that Novo Nordisk employees leave the company in order to copy our technology.«
Among other things, this concerns the technological diabetes research within proteins.
»In China, people tend to leave the companies quickly, and we hear that they then copy what they have learnt. Although Novo Nordisk has not itself experienced that we give serious thought to our research activities out there,« Mads Krogsgaard said.
But as China is underway with a new patent legislation this may be changing, he added.
»The approach to research is becoming more and more Western. It is beyond all doubt that we must take China very seriously«
Mads Krogsgaard noted, however, that the innovative and ground-breaking research still cannot compare with Western standards.
»But this is also a question of time,« Novo Nordisk’s Chief Science Officer said.