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Interim Report titled “New Trends Brought about by Biotechnology: Beginning the Era of the Smartcell Industry” Compiled

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has been holding meetings of the Bio-Industry Subcommittee of the Commerce, Distribution and Information Committee under the Industrial Structure Council since March 2016, and compiled the results into an interim report titled “New Trends Brought about by Biotechnology: Beginning the Era of the Smartcell Industry.”

1. Background and other information

In recent years, as significant progress is being made in biotechnology, it is becoming a dynamo propelling changes not only health care and medical care related fields, but also in economic and societal realms, including industry and agriculture. The subcommittee summarized the changes currently being brought about by biotechnology and subsequent future scenarios, discussed the future directions for which Japan should strive, and compiled the results into a report.

2. Outline of the report

In the field of biotechnology, discontinuous technological innovation has been dramatic and it could bring about the following technological advances: [i] the rapid collection of a huge amount of biological information, enabled mostly by next-generation DNA sequencing technologies; [ii] the clarification of specific biological processes brought about by the advancement of AI/IT technologies; and [iii] the elaborate control and expression of biological properties by emerging genome-editing technologies.

These technologies are shifting biotechnology into a new era and bringing about the "smartcell" industry, namely, a new group of industries which utilize human-engineered biological cells (smartcells) that are designed in a sophisticated manner for a particular function and the expression of that function can be controlled. This transformation is causing major changes that will transform existing industrial structures and solve global issues.

As overseas countries are advancing strategic efforts concerning this industry, Japan, as well, should embark on such efforts from the following four strategic viewpoints.

  • Strategy 1: Development of a strategic foundation by taking advantage of Japan’s strong points
  • Strategy 2: Accelerating practical implementation of the results achieved in the smartcell industry
  • Strategy 3: Promotion of open innovation programs
  • Strategy 4: Develop public acceptance for the smartcell industry as well as institutional environments therefor


Release date

July 14, 2016

Division in Charge

Bio-Industry Division, Commerce and Information Policy Bureau

Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry1-3-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8901, Japan Tel: +81-(0)3-3501-1511
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