The firm has entered a tie-up with EPS International, a clinical development provider that currently serves the Asia-Pacific region. Under the new arrangement, EPS will be able to offer its clients new access to clinical services in Europe, North America, South America and India, via Chiltern's network of offices in 23 countries throughout the regions. Similarly, Chiltern will be able to plug into the budding Asia scene through EPS, which has offices in the region's key locations of Japan, China, Singapore, Korea and Taiwan. Commenting on the relationship, Glenn Kerkhof, CEO of Chiltern said: "Asia is becoming an increasingly attractive market for clinical trial services and finding a partner with a meaningful presence and experience of conducting clinical trials throughout Southeast Asia is an important development for Chiltern". The Asia-Pacific region is one of the world's fastest growing areas in terms of clinical trial activity, with China, along with India, leading the pack by a mile. According to the Tufts Center for Drug Development, the market for clinical trials in China has grown 43 per cent in the last three years. Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and to a lesser degree, South Korea and Japan, are among the other countries in the Asia Pacific tipped to experience an increase in the number of CRO-conducted clinical trials. On the flipside, Dr Tatsuhiko Ichiki, president and CEO of EPS, said that the timing of the partnership is good for the firm as the core of the business has been in Asia, but it is now witnessing an "increased demand for global trials outside of the region" as companies in Asia who are developing their own drugs increasingly covet breaking into the global marketplace with their products. Chiltern has been actively expanding its geographic footprint of late in order to be able to better support its sponsors' growing global demands. In May, Chiltern chose Portugal for the location of its latest global expansion, with the opening of a new office in the country's capital, Lisbon. Company employee Ricardo Diaz is now heading up the office as country manager. "The conditions were right for us to open this new office. In the past two years, we have seen rising interest in the region and increased demand for full clinical operations support in Portugal," said Diaz. "Quick patient enrollment and the small number of competitive trials add to the overall benefits of in running clinical studies in Portugal." Just prior to this, Chiltern also became the latest in a growing number of CROs to establish a foothold within the clinical sleeping giant that is Russia. In April, the firm opened a new office in St Petersburg, a move that Armand Czaplinski, Chiltern's general manager of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) described as "a logical next step" in the company's continued growth in the CEE region. Over the last few years, Chiltern has already been conducting trials in Russia in response to sponsors' requests to involve the country in global studies, but had yet to establish a permanent presence. The latest partnership approach with EMS is a different move to the investment approach that Chiltern has been taking in other regions of late and it may be that the CRO is testing the waters in Asia before committing to any permanent presence in the region. The company was asked by Outsourcing-Pharma to provide further comment, but failed to do so by the time of publishing.