Where did the JPY 25 trillion biotech market go? Tsukuba? Kobe?

According to the Chiba Biotechnology website the Japanese government predicted in 2005 that by 2010 its biotechnology market will reach 25 trillion yen and create at least 1000 new biotech-based companies. During the 2003 biotech bubble, Japan Bioindustries Association (JBA) reported over 330 bio-ventures earning a total of 105 billion yen in sales in Japan. A rise up to new 577 biotech companies actually occurred, but since 2004 the number of new ventures is declining, especially now with the challenge of finding appropriate funding, the expected volume of new Japanese biotech business in the prefectures could not be reached.
In Japan large established companies are the driving force to create new business, unlike Europe or US where entrepreneurial activity or venture capital seeding leads to start up companies. Most commonly these larger companies will start off with a new project internally until the biotech venture is ready to stand on its own. Often these spin outs join siblings to form a network of support for the parent company. Now as the Japanese pharma industry is facing the challenge of expiry of several major drug patents, I do hope new ideas and opportunities in biotech will still have a chance.

Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤)

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