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flanders.bio, JBA collaborate to get direct access to Japanese medicines market

Belgium
Friday, May 19, 2017, 11:00 Hrs  [IST]

flanders.bio, the life sciences cluster in Flanders, and the Japan Bio Industry Association (JBA) are to collaborate closely. During 'knowledge for growth', the annual get-together of the life sciences cluster in Ghent, an agreement between the two organisations was signed.

"This is an important agreement" Henk Joos, managing director of flanders.bio stressed. As a result of this agreement our Flemish companies gain direct access to the Japanese medicines' market, which has an annual turnover of 105 billion euros. It is the world's second largest market for medicines and diagnostics after the United States.

Japan, just like Flanders, faces a growing aging population.  After the economic slow down in 2011 as a result of the earthquake, the tsunami and the leak at the nuclear power plant, the country is once again looking for new, innovative medicines.  When the effectiveness of new medicines is shown, they are often allowed onto the Japanese market sooner than e.g. in the US.  For Flemish and Belgian life sciences companies this is an important trump card.  Henk Joos: "During the past three years we noticed that Japanese pharma and biotech companies are putting greater effort into open innovation and are actively looking for co-operation.  This plays to the advantage of our businesses."

Japanese companies invested over a billion euros in Belgian life sciences companies thanks to takeovers, but also as a result of concluding cooperation agreements with companies including Ablynx, ADX Neurosciences and reMYND. Lieve Ongena, Senior Science Policy Manager at VIB (Flemish Institute for Biotechnology) travels to Japan annually in order to bring investments from Japanese biotech companies and research cooperation agreements to Flanders. A famous example is the Yakult research lab in Ghent.

This dairy drink was originally based of the intestinal flora of the Japanese. "In order to adapt the product to the European market, several years ago, we were able to convince the company to establish its European research lab in Ghent. It was above all our dynamic biotech cluster and know-how that attracted the Japanese" says Lieve Ongena. Gaining the confidence of a Japanese partner usually takes many years. "This is a problem for smaller biotech players. Thanks to our cooperation with JBA there was a relationship of trust straight from the start. As a result, in future,  we will be able to bring investment projects to the Flemish biotech cluster even more quickly."

The agreement between flanders.bio and JBA was signed in Ghent in the presence of the Federal Public Health Minister Maggie De Block.  flanders.bio represents 350 life sciences companies in Flanders. The Japan Bioindustry Association (JBA) unites 1,000 businesses. Yoshiaki Tsukamoto, Executive Director of the JBA: "Flanders is a significant player in innovative medicine.  In addition, flanders.bio is one of the few biotech clusters in Europe with businesses from the agro food industry and industrial applications' sector. For us this agreement with flanders.bio is an important step.  As a result we are able to be even more successful in uniting our potential."

 

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