Lei Zhang ’02 and WuXi AppTec’s Ge Li Discuss the Power of Ecosystem Companies

There is “a type of company the world has never seen before,” says Lei Zhang ’02, founder, chairman, and CEO of Hillhouse Capital Company. This new model, exemplified by the pharmaceutical service firm WuXi AppTec, is known as an ecosystem company.

Zhang introduced the concept and WuXi AppTec’s chairman and CEO, Ge Li, during a conversation hosted by the Greater China Club at the Yale School of Management on October 6.

“The ecosystem company is different from a platform company” like Uber, said Zhang. “Its number-one goal is actually making other people successful so that [the ecosystem company] can be successful… WuXi is a new breed of company because it represents that innovation; you think about the externality factor—how much it can benefit society.”

WuXi sits at the nexus of healthcare and technology, working to pair those capable of finding cures for disease with the infrastructure they need to be successful.

When WuXi was founded in the early 2000s, Li said, “Our dream was that every drug could be made, every disease could be treated… We believed the only way to improve the productivity of the industry is to enable innovators and innovations, and we want to lower the barrier to entry for people to capitalize their experience and knowledge. Arguably, we now probably have the most comprehensive R&D capabilities including small and large molecules, cell and gene therapy, medical device, and molecular diagnosis in the pharmaceutical industry.”

Zhang said that WuXi is part of a trend sweeping across industries toward eliminating barriers to entry, making innovations possible in all corners of the world.

“There is more and more local innovation,” he said. “Innovation can be anywhere, any place, including in the developing emerging markets [because] what [something like WuXi] does is essentially level the playing field… Maybe we could find some Indonesian scientist able to develop something using WuXi that will cure a disease.”

About the Event

The Greater China Club hosts a conversation between Lei Zhang, the founder and CEO of Hillhouse Capital Group, and Ge Li, the founder and CEO of Wuxi AppTec. Ge Li will give a speech on healthcare industry in China, and Lei Zhang will moderate.