17 Apr Japanese delegates highlight Wisconsin at BIO Chicago
When representatives from Japan, the second-largest biotech market in the world, came to Chicago for the international BIO convention, you might not think they would end up talking about Madison.
But in a show of Wisconsin’s international partnerships in biotechnology, Madison’s Promega Corporation was chosen as a presenter at the Japan international session. And speaker Tsuney Yanagihara, general manager of the life science business unit at Mitsubishi International Corporation, spoke highly to the crowd of that company’s recently announced partnership with Third Wave Technologies.
The road to successful international collaboration can be a long one, speakers said, especially in Japan, where great emphasis is put on developing the right relationships.
“We started out with distributors,” said Laura Francis, CFO of Promega. “I think we started in ’82 and didn’t set up a branch until ’94, so we had been in the market for 12 years. We had the distributor relationship, we had been there, we had established customers and all of those combined just take time.”
Japan is now Promega’s second-largest market, Francis said. To build that kind of success, Promega has not hired expatriates to run their branch offices, instead using local talent. In Japan and elsewhere, the company “hired good local people” as general managers to help make the right connections, Francis said.
Meanwhile, Third Wave Technologies recently announced a joint venture in Japan with Mitsubishi on personalized medicine. Mitsubishi now owns about 14 percent of Third Wave Japan.
Third Wave’s history in Japan began in 2000 with a collaboration with genetic researcher Yusuke Nakamura of the RIKEN Institute/University of Tokyo, the company said. It also had a product development and commercialization agreement with BML Inc. of Tokyo, a major clinical reference laboratory in Japan, since that time.
CSK Holdings Corporation also invested in the deal, taking approximately 3 percent of Third Wave through a subsidiary.
“The commitment made by Mitsubishi and CSK to accelerated commercialization our Invader chemistry to the clinical market in the region, demonstrated by their investments in Third Wave, should be influential as we seek to aggressively expand our market position,” said Kevin Conroy, CEO of Third Wave.
The firm will be focusing on the clinical market in Japan, just as it has been shifting its focus from research to clinical sales in the United States. It will need approval for its products from the Japanese Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency, or PDMA.
In addition to molecular diagnostics for infectious disease, Third Wave plans to develop products to improve drug safety and efficacy, and will own worldwide rights outside the Asia-Pacific region to all technology developed by Third Wave Japan.
“We are delighted to be partnering with Third Wave in Japan during this period of rapid change in the Japanese medical scene, during which technology advancement is opening new opportunities in diagnostics,” Yanagihara said.
More on Promega
• Promega spins off RFID ‘smart appliance’ company
• Promega to get early access to WARF technologies under new agreement
• Promega, Japanese lab announce partnership
More on Third Wave
• Third Wave says patent extends IP reach
• Third Wave posts $22 million loss, stock rises
• Third Wave agrees to drop Chiron, Bayer patent lawsuits
• Stratagene sets aside $21M to pay Third Wave pending appeal