UK Life Sciences delegation showcases its strengths in Japan

THE biggest UK life sciences delegation to head to Japan in ten years was in Tokyo on the 10th October to showcase the sector’s strengths and foster collaborations; led by regional cluster organisations MedCity and the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA), with the Department for International Trade.

Business Minister Lord Prior, with over 40 experts from institutions; including Imperial College London, University College London and Newcastle University; leading biotech companies, Imanova and Orchard Therapeutics; and the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult; attracted an audience of over 150, to highlight the UK’s successful university spinouts, digital health in the NHS, and academic-industry partnerships.

They were attending Asia’s biggest biosciences conference, BioJapan, in Yokohama, to meet with more Japanese businesses and promote the UK as open for investment, research, and business.

The UK is the fourth largest market for life sciences investment from Japan; particularly in oncology, immunotherapy and ageing, and has a strong collaborative research history with more than 8,000 researchers traveling between UK and Japanese universities every year.

The delegation aims to build on current collaborations between the two countries, including:

  • Takeda is collaborating with GemmaDelta, a London-based immunotherapy company, to discover and develop new immunotherapies with the aim of treating a broad range of cancers, including solid tumours, and autoinflammatory diseases
  • Wellcome renewed its commitment to the Japanese Global Health Innovative Technology fund (GHIT) in June, which aims to develop live-saving health innovations for some of the world’s poorest people. Wellcome, the Japanese government, private companies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation collectively committed over US$200 million to support GHIT’s next phase of work.
  • Pharma company, Eisai has a neurodegenerative disease drug discovery research collaboration with University College London, which to date has delivered four research projects focussed on key areas of interest for disease intervention including: mitochondrial dysfunction, neuroinflammation and protein misfolding and aggregation.
  • The Medical Research Council and the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) has signed a Memorandum of Cooperation to advance UK-Japan partnership in medical research and development.


Business Minister Lord Prior, who is instrumental in developing the Government’s Industrial Strategy and recently launched the Science and Innovation Audits highlighting the strengths of regions across the UK, said:

“Japan is one of the UK’s most important science and research partners which is why we are taking the largest ever delegation to the BioJapan conference, reinforcing our commitment to international collaboration to solve some of greatest medical issues of our time.


“We have made the biggest increase to Government funding for research and development since 1979, and through our work with industry partners on the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, we are ensuring the UK’s expertise in this sector continues to go from strength to strength.”


Dr Liz Mear, Northern Health Science Alliance board member and CEO of the Innovation Agency, said: “Health Innovation is one of the key strands of government Industrial Strategy and trade delegations such as this offer global industry the opportunity to engage with the best in Life Sciences.

“Life Science hubs such as the NHSA and MedCity were recognised in the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy as driving growth across the country and we’re delighted to be bringing our members to BioJapan to explain exactly why the UK is leading the world in health innovation.”

Sarah Haywood, CEO, MedCity said: “This delegation of leading health scientists and industry highlights the strength of our ecosystem, and the opportunities for Japan to do research, collaborate, and invest in the UK.

“The UK is currently the fourth largest market for life sciences investment from Japan, particularly in oncology, immunotherapy and ageing, and we value our natural partnership. With over 5,000 life sciences businesses, four of the world’s top ten universities, and world-leading research centres, we want to spread the message that even with the UK’s current political uncertainty, we remain open for science.” 

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