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Drug Discovery

Advantages of Kansai Region in Business Opportunities

Over the past 350 years (since the Edo period), the Kansai region has nurtured the concentration of drug wholesalers in the Doshomachi area in central Osaka city. Based on that tradition, the area has attracted a number of headquarters of today’s leading Japanese pharmaceutical companies, including Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma Co., Ltd., Shionogi & Co., Ltd., Tanabe Seiyaku Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Pharma Corp. In particular, the Tanabe Seiyaku Co., Ltd., founded in 1678, is renowned as the second oldest pharmaceutical company in the world. As of October 2007, Tanabe Seiyaku merged with Mitsubishi Pharma, forming Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation, the fourth largest pharmaceutical company in Japan. In addition, the region still houses a concentration of traditional pharmaceutical industries serving the field of Oriental medicine.

The region also has a high concentration of universities and research organizations conducting world-class studies. Many universities are located here, including Osaka University (that originated from the Tekijuku School) where modern medical education was first introduced into Japan, and Kyoto University, the second oldest university in Japan. The schools of medicine of both Osaka and Kyoto Universities conduct research that draws international interest in diverse fields, such as immunology, molecular cell biology, molecular genetics, infectious diseases, and gene therapy science. Consequently, the Kansai region enjoys a strong intellectual atmosphere, where many scientists are frequently cited by other researchers around the world.

Besides providing technological innovations in drug discovery for advanced medical treatment, the region is home to many drug discovery bio-venture companies and others supporting them. These groups have been established in the areas of northern Osaka (Saito), Kobe, and Kyoto. With its pharmaceutical pipeline, AnGes MG, Inc. is the leading bio-venture company in Japan, created on the initiative of Osaka University scientists. After successful completion of Phase III trials of the HGF genetic remedy. AnGes MG, Inc. has recently applied in Japan for approval to use this drug in the treatment of arteriosclerosis obliterans. In the US, Phase II is under way. Simultaneously, Kringle Pharma, Inc. is working to develop a medicine using the HGF protein. ArBlast Co., Ltd. is developing pharmaceutical products based on regenerative medicine. This region also has many bio-ventures that offer other technological supports for drug discovery, including Sosho Inc. and TransGenic Inc., who are concerned with crystallization of protein leading to a medicine candidate compound, and gene knockout mice with trapping technologies, respectively.

Business opportunities abound in the Kansai region. Pharmaceutical companies located here are strongly interested in drug seeds provided by foreign companies, license-in of fundamental technologies, and joint drug development with bio-ventures. Bio-ventures in the region are seeking alliances for joint studies of all kinds with foreign companies. Finally, many organizations support business matching, and they have successfully matched many foreign enterprises with Kansai companies. Therefore, you are likely to find it far easier in this region than elsewhere to establish working alliances and have them prosper than elsewhere.

You will find that, in the Kansai region, not only do industry, government, and academic sectors of the economy work efficiently together, but the region enjoys an unparalleled concentration in the area of both modern and traditional pharmaceutical industries and the peripheral industries that support drug discovery. Moreover, these enterprises are continually fueled by the concentration of an ongoing supply of diverse intellectual and research capital that brings innovative strength and dynamism to the entrepreneurial environment in Kansai. This region provides the leading aggregate of resources for drug discoveries in Japan.

Current Projects and Initiatives


Saito Life Science Park Project
  Saito Life Science Park (Saito LSP) aims at the hub of the Northern Osaka bio-medical cluster. Many pharmaceutical firms have traditionally concentrated in Osaka and a number of Bio-Medical research institutes including Osaka University are situated in the surround of Saito Life Science Park.
This concentration bestows a unique advantage on Osaka. Saito Life Science Park plans to promote research activity with this advantage and to activate this area through industry-university cooperation.
BioGrid Project
  BioGrid project has been initiated as Construction of a Supercomputer Network, which is a part of IT-program of Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Under the project, Osaka University and other relevant institutions are in the process of developing a Computer Grid Technology to meet IT needs specialized in biology and medical science.
Pharamaceutical Innovation Value Chain
  The new Pharmaceutical Innovation Value Chain project brings together venture capital companies, medium- to small-sized companies, large companies, academic laboratories, and other organizations. This project seeks to develop computing technology for drug discovery, such as in silico drug screening (Molecular Mechanics: myPresto), molecular orbital simulation (Quantum Mechanics: AMOSS), etc. In this project, disease-related protein structures are determined by actual wet experimentation to identify and optimize new lead compounds for medical therapies. After animal testing, these compounds enter the market. This project seeks partners to develop lead compounds together.


Proposal for Formation of Health and Medical Cluster focused on health technology
  This project would create new businesses targeting diagnostic devices, foods possessing mild medicinal properties or health-promoting constituents, and pharmaceuticals to address lifestyle-related diseases, particularly diabetes. These businesses would be concerned with technological development and application studies to analyze protein and genetic information related to the diseases, and to promote formation of an internationally competitive regional cluster in this field.


Bio-Industry Creation Project based on academic research bases including Nagahama Institute of Bio-Science and Technology
  The Nagahama Institute of Bio-Science and Technology adjacent to Nagahama Science Park (approximately 5 ha) seeks to form a bio-industry cluster by establishing and nurturing bio-ventures resulted from supporting technology transfer entrepreneurship at the Nagahama Bio-Incubation Center and other organizations.


Mie Medical Valley Project
  This project would create and stimulate medicine, health, and wellness industries in the prefecture. Mie Prefecture is engaged in a number of programs to create networks between industries, academia, Mie Prefecture research institutes, non-profit research institutes, and cities and towns, and promote R&D.


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