Guest post contributed by BioForward
Across the globe, life science technology advancements are accelerating to promote better health.
The recent Wisconsin-Japan Biohealth Summit, designed to raise awareness of current collaborations while fostering new ones, offered opportunities for Wisconsin and Japanese companies to work together toward advancing science.
While it might seem like an unusual marriage, Japanese companies have a long history of supporting Wisconsin-based bioscience research. In fact, Japan is the top foreign direct investor in the U.S., with these investments contributing $679 billion to the U.S. economy in 2020. Japanese companies employ more than half a million Americans and export more than $80 million in goods annually.
As part of the recent summit, BioForward members spoke on a panel about their collaborations with Japanese companies on new technologies. The panel members included representatives from:
- The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) – Among other collaborators, this organization is assisting with patenting and licensing for a Japanese researcher that is developing new vaccines. WARF has licensed 180 startups that have emerged from technology developed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- FujiFilm Cellular Dynamics – Japan’s FujiFilm acquired a Wisconsin startup that is pioneering stem cell technology. Cellular Dynamics, originally developed based on stem cell research by Jamie Thompson, was acquired by FujiFilm in 2015.
- Promega – The biochemistry and molecular biology giant has longstanding operations in Japan. Division Promega HKK serves Japanese customers, and a clinical diagnostics group operates out of Shanghai. The company also works with FujiFilm for assay development.
- Exact Sciences – In an alliance with Japanese electronics company Alliance, Exact Sciences is working to automate Cologuard tests in an effort to improve capacity and quality. Cologuard was launched in 2014 from the company’s home base in Madison, and now the company is developing new technologies that will help doctors assess the likelihood that breast cancer will recur in a patient and whether the patient would benefit from chemotherapy.
- Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals – Working with Japanese company Takeda, Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals is making drugs to silence the genes that cause disease. Specifically, researchers are focused on liver, lung and muscle tissues. There are currently 10 programs in clinical stages as researchers look for new drug treatments.
As panelists outlined their cooperative efforts, it was clear to those in attendance that there is opportunity for continued collaboration between companies in Wisconsin and Japan.
With hopes of making the Wisconsin-Japan Biohealth Summit an annual event, summit leaders lauded the companies already cooperatively focused on biohealth research in both locations. They hope to attract even more direct investments from organizations in Japan to conduct part of their operations in Wisconsin. The event showcased the state as a collaborative biohealth epicenter, one where experts can work together to develop better medical solutions than ever before.
Moving forward, the state’s biohealth leaders are looking for new ways to develop business relationships that will not only benefit economies in both countries but improve health care for patients around the globe.