Osaka University Japan Biodesign takes its first step towards an innovation ecosystem for new medical equipment
In 2015, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED)1 selected Osaka University as one of three national universities (University of Tokyo and Tohoku University being the others) to participate in the Japan Biodesign Fellowship Program2. Together, these universities are expected to build an ecosystem for medical instrumentation innovation. The program is run in partnership with Stanford Biodesign3. As part of this initiative, working with the Global Center for Medical Engineering and Informatics, the Graduate School of Medicine has initiated a biodesign course that trains students to commercialize innovations founded in response to clinical priorities.
In total, phase I and phase II Japan Biodesign fellowships have trained six teams and resulted in two startups and one license. This output marks remarkable success compared to similar overseas efforts.
One Osaka University team has been working on innovations to improve the prognosis of heart disease, which is the second most frequent cause of death in Japan. The proposed solution involved new telemedicine in order to provide cardiac rehabilitation at the home. In March 2017, Osaka University graduate and cardiologist Tatsunori Taniguchi founded Remohab4, The company has since received funding from Osaka University Venture Capital and Hack Ventures5. This financing is expected to expedite regulatory approval and the commercialization of Remohab technology.
Remohab highlights the efforts at Osaka University to train its students in entrepreneurship. In three years, this company went from not even existing to securing outside funding. Remohab also exemplifies the ecosystem being made in Japan to commercialize medical innovations.
- In 2017, MEXT and AMED selected 10 universities, including Osaka University, to participate in Japan Biodesign, which has the aim of teaching students how to translate basic research into commercial products for clinical application.
- The Japan Biodesign Fellowship Program selects teams of 3-4 members of disparate backgrounds (medicine, engineering, etc.) that are given 10 months to find, evaluate and build a solution to a medical need. The program includes constructing business plans and other features for commercialization.
- Stanford Biodesign was founded in 2001 by Prof. Paul Yock. It trains participants to build solutions for medical needs through commercialization. The program has outputted 47 companies, raised more than 70 billion yen in funding, and has seen instruments from the companies serve more than 15 million patients.
- Remohab was founded by Tatsunori Taniguchi and is located in Toyonaka City, Osaka Prefecture. The company specializes in remote technologies for heart rehabilitation.
- Companies can procure funding from outside parties like Osaka University Capital Fund and Hack Ventures by issuing new shares to the investors.