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METI Holds Japan Innovation Night

June 12, 2023

As a side event of the BIO International Convention 2023, the world’s largest-class business-matching event in the field of biotechnology held in Boston, the U.S., on June 8 (Thur.), 2023, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) held an event titled Japan Innovation Night in the same city to attract people’s attention to Japan’s efforts in this field.

1. Overview

As a side event of the BIO International Convention 2023, the world’s largest-class business-matching event in the field of biotechnology held from June 5 (Mon.) to 8 (Thurs.) (local time), 2023, in Boston, the U.S., METI, jointly with the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) and CIC, held an event titled Japan Innovation Night to attract people’s attention to Japanese industries’ efforts in the same field, including those by the Government of Japan and startups.

Under the Strategy for Strengthening the Vaccine Development and Production System, on which a Cabinet Decision was made on June 1, 2021, METI launched a Strengthening Program for the Pharmaceutical Startup Ecosystem, taking advantage of a fund of 350 billion yen in total with the aim of supporting drug discovery startups, which are key entities for the development of new drugs.

At the Japan Innovation Night event, representatives of METI, Keidanren and some municipalities delivered speeches, and members of Japanese startups pitched presentations. The startups included one that METI supports in the Strengthening Program noted above .

Through not only leveraging the budget of the Strengthening Program but also activities like this event, METI will strive to encourage business cooperation among companies inside and outside Japan and enhance Japanese startups’ collaboration with overseas ecosystems, thereby building an ecosystem that attracts investments and human resources to drug discovery startups in Japan and, furthermore, dramatically fortifying Japan’s drug discovery capabilities.

At the beginning of the event, Mr. Kishida Fumio, Prime Minister, delivered a speech as a video message, strongly expressing the sentiment that “Now is the time to invest in Japanese pharmaceutical startups.”

Program of the event:

Japan Innovation Night
Date and time:
June 8 (Thur.), 2023; from 16:00 to 20:00 (local time)
Cambridge Innovation Center, the U.S.
Explanations by Japanese associations in the field of biotechnology on their efforts, pitch presentations by startups, etc.
Time schedule (local time):
16:30-16:35:Video message (Prime Minister Kishida) and opening remarks (JETRO)
16:35-17:10:Keynote speeches (METI and Japan Bioindustry Association)
17:10-17:15: Speech by Keidanren
17:15-17:20 Speech by CIC
17:20-17:25 Speech by Life Science Innovation Network Japan (LINK-J)
17:25-18:05: Presentations by Japanese startups
18:05-18:30: Presentations by Japanese municipalities (Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Kobe City and Yokohama City)
18:30-20:00: Networking event
photo1  photo2
Scenes from a speech by a METI senior staff and a presentation by a Japanese startup

2. Video message by Prime Minister Kishida

Welcome to Japan Innovation Night. I am KISHIDA Fumio, Prime Minister of Japan.

It is truly a shame that I am unable to travel to Boston during this time of the year, when lobster is in season. Nevertheless, there is one thing I want to convey to all of you who have gathered today for this event. That thing is this: Now is the time to invest in Japanese pharmaceutical startups.

In Japan, the population is becoming increasingly grayer at a pace unseen in the rest of the world. One after another, social issues brought about by the graying of our population, such as various illnesses, the weakening of bodily functions and challenges with nursing care, are becoming a reality. Should we invest in Japan under such circumstances? Some of you may be wondering about this.

In my view, however, those circumstances are precisely why Japan holds considerable opportunities for growth. I say that because Japan today offers a glimpse into what the future of the world will look like. The global population will become increasingly grayer from this time onward. Japan is a forerunner in this regard. If you are looking to be the first to bring forth innovations our future world will need, I highly encourage you to keep your eyes on Japan.

Startups are the bearers of that innovation. Biotechnology is making previously unavailable forms of medical care and drug discovery possible, such as nucleic acid drugs, regenerative medicine and gene therapy. Startups, with their unprecedented ideas, have the ability to drive this revolutionary innovation forward. I made the decision to appropriate a budget of over 7 billion USD to Japanese startups. Moreover, as much as 30% of the budget is allocated to supporting startups in the field of drug discovery.

I believe you can comprehend the depth of my eagerness and anticipation for groundbreaking innovation in the realm of drug discovery.

The landscape of Japan has completely transformed over the past year. I earnestly implore all of you in Boston, the world's leaders in drug discovery innovation, to consider investing in Japan. Using a budget of over 2 billion USD, we have readied a scheme that grants incentives equivalent to double the amount of your investments. The experts will provide a detailed explanation of the scheme after this message. Now is the time to invest in Japanese pharmaceutical startups.

I sincerely hope you make the decision here and now to take that major step forward, and eagerly await your interest and your visits to Japan.

Reference: METI-JETRO joint initiative- In February 2021, METI and JETRO launched a platform called Japan Innovation Bridge (J-Bridge) to support Japanese startups and other companies and overseas companies in cooperating in business and M&As and to create international open innovations.
- JETRO, an operator of the platform, has been providing to J-Bridge members [i] information on promising overseas startups and other companies in such areas as the U.S., Europe, Southeast Asia, India and Israel and [ii] hands-on support ranging from face-to-face consultations to project formulation.
- In addition, from FY2023, JETRO started the provision of pitch events and seminars as an effort to enhance exchange between major innovation-ecosystem bases overseas and innovation-ecosystem bases in Japan and thereby to encourage investors and other businesses to invest in Japanese companies and promote business cooperation and collaboration between Japanese and overseas companies.
- For details of the J-Bridge platform, visit the JETRO website hereLink
Reference: Second Japan-U.S. Commercial and Industrial Partnership (JUCIP) Ministerial Meeting
- This effort was deliberated on in the second JUCIP Ministerial Meeting held on May 26 (Fri.), 2023

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