Japanese government delegation seeks SynbiCITE’s advice on start-ups creation and synthetic biology business opportunities

  • Posted on 15 May, 2017

A recent UK visit by a high-level Japanese delegation of government officials and industrialists recognises the tremendous progress the UK has made, building on its established lead in Europe, towards becoming a major global biotech cluster. The Japanese government is currently in the midst of formulating new bio-economy policy and was particularly keen to understand how biotechnology development and commercialisation is conducted in the UK.

Mr. Yasuhiro Maeda, Deputy Director General of Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) Japan, Commerce and Information Policy Bureau led the delegation. He was joined by scientists from their major Universities and national institutes, and industrialists from Takara Bio, Mitsubishi Chemical, Hitachi, Kaneka and Sekisui Chemical. The delegation was visiting a number of sites around the UK, which included SynbiCITE and the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA).

Professor Paul Freemont (Co-Director of the UK Innovation and Knowledge Centre for Synthetic Biology, SynbiCITE) welcomed the visiting delegation. Professor Freemont introduced synthetic biology and its origins at Imperial College London and reviewed the range of research being undertaken. Dr Stephen Chambers (CEO of SynbiCITE) explained the entrepreneurial training and support SynbiCITE provides to start-ups and reviewed synthetic biology start-up activity and trends in the UK.

The Japanese delegation visited SynbiCITE to see how the UK is creating new start-ups and business opportunities in relation to synthetic biology. The delegation also wanted to understand recent trends and learn how synthetic biology start-ups are formed, supported and financed here. The group was particularly intrigued with the concept of Smart Cells and the commercial potential of engineering biology in Pharma/Biotech, Clean-Tech, Advanced Materials and Biofuels & Industrial Chemicals.

The visit was therefore an ideal opportunity for SynbiCITE to showcase some of the most innovative new UK start-ups working in synthetic biology. The entrepreneurs and companies taking part in the showcase included:

  • James Field, CEO & Founder of LabGenius, evolving new biomaterials with synthetic biology
  • Ben Reeve, CTO of CustoMem, delivering sustainable purity to waste water
  • Victor Dillard, COO of Desktop Genetics, enabling personalised medicine with genome editing & AI
  • Jonny Ohlsen, CEO of Touchlight Genetics, developing new DNA therapies through novel DNA synthesis
  • Geoff Baldwin, Founder of Cagen, encapsulation and targeting of drugs