Leveraging University Research into Medical Innovations with Social Impact: Biotechnology Entrepreneurship in Japan's New Startup Ecosystem

Monday, February 7, 2022
5:00 PM - 6:30 PM

Via Zoom Webinar
Register:  https://bit.ly/3u1A10M




This event will offer simultaneous translation between Japanese and English. 

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February 7, 5-6:30 p.m. California time/ February 8, 10-11:30 a.m. Japan time

This event is part of the 2022 Japan Program Winter webinar series, The Future of Social Tech: U.S.-Japan Partnership in Advancing Technology and Innovation with Social Impact

Japan’s startup scene has become more exciting in recent years, but in the medical field, the failure to develop COVID-19 vaccines highlighted the shortcomings of Japan’s medical industry. What should Japan do to foster more impactful biotechnology entrepreneurship that would leverage vibrant medical research carried out at Japanese universities? The panel features two speakers who founded and grew their medical ventures in Japan's rapidly maturing startup ecosystem, both with deep connections to university research. 

Tadahisa Kagimoto founded his first company right after finishing his medical degree at Kyushu University, pioneering a pathway of commercializing biotechnology from Japanese university research. His second startup, Healios, founded in 2013 with the goal of becoming a pioneer in regenerative medicine utilizing iPS, was successfully listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2015 and has been growing since.

Shoko Takahashi was a PhD student in molecular bioscience at the University of Tokyo when she founded her company, Genequest, to offer home DNA testing. The firm was purchased by another biotech startup founded by a University of Tokyo graduate, Euglena, in 2017, and the company has partnered with a variety of pharmaceutical, food and beverage companies, and universities in its research. Their entrepreneurial journeys reveal Japan's changing startup ecosystem that has rapidly matured over the past decade and signal a need for further development in regulatory environments, human resource development, and university-industry collaboration in the biotechnology industry.



Photo portrait of Tadahisa Kagimoto
Hardy TS Kagimoto, MD is founder, Chairman and CEO of HEALIOS K.K., a Tokyo-based, clinical-stage world leader in regenerative medicine and cell therapy. 

After founding Healios in 2011, Dr. Kagimoto led the company’s listing on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2015 and has built the company to its current scale of more than 140 people across its Japan and US offices. Healios leverages the favorable Japanese regulatory framework for regenerative medicine to efficiently deliver results for patients and its stakeholders. It is currently running two pivotal clinical trials for ischemic stroke and acute respiratory distress syndrome using bone marrow-derived allogeneic multipotent adult progenitor cells. At the same time, Healios is developing best-in-class, next generation pipeline assets in immuno-oncology, ophthalmology, and organ buds utilizing its innovative, proprietary universal donor iPS cell platform.


Photo of Shoko Takahashi
Shoko Takahashi founded the Japanese personal genome company Genequest Inc. in 2013 while a graduate student at the University of Tokyo. Genequest provides a web-based personal genetic service for consumers and collaborates with research institutions in a large-scale genome research project to maximize synergistic effects between research and personal genome services. She is filled with ambition to accelerate genetic research and contribute to human health all over the world. She graduated from the University of Tokyo with a Ph.D. in Molecular Bioscience in 2015, and Kyoto University with a Bachelor of Biochemistry Science in 2010. She has been awarded the Japan Venture Award and received the highest rating by the Japan Ministry of Economy. In 2015, she was commended by the Japan Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology as one of the researchers contributing major innovations to science technologies in Japan.

She received the 2018 Young Global Leaders award from the World Economic Forum and was selected for Newsweek's ‘100 respected Japanese in the world’ list.



Photo portrait of Kenji Kushida
Kenji E. Kushida is a Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He previously was with the Japan Program at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center as a research scholar.

Kushida’s research and projects focused on the following streams : 1) how politics and regulations shape the development and diffusion of Information Technology such as AI; 2) institutional underpinnings of the Silicon Valley ecosystem, 2) Japan's transforming political economy, 3) Japan's startup ecosystem, 4) the role of foreign multinational firms in Japan, 4) Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster. He spearheaded the Silicon Valley - New Japan project that brought together large Japanese firms and the Silicon Valley ecosystem.

He has published several books and numerous articles in each of these streams, including “The Politics of Commoditization in Global ICT Industries,” “Japan’s Startup Ecosystem,” "How Politics and Market Dynamics Trapped Innovations in Japan’s Domestic 'Galapagos' Telecommunications Sector," “Cloud Computing: From Scarcity to Abundance,” and others. His latest business book in Japanese is “The Algorithmic Revolution’s Disruption: a Silicon Valley Vantage on IoT, Fintech, Cloud, and AI” (Asahi Shimbun Shuppan 2016).