Successful workshop on how to enter the challenging Japanese life science market

The participants of the Japan workshop as part of the Start Smart Global Program. © BioM

Ten European SMEs travelled to BioM in Martinsried, to take part in an intensive 4-day Japan workshop from 9-12 September covering interactive culture and business training.

The carefully selected participants (see Start.Smart.Global) work in the field of personalized medicine, including the sectors diagnostics, therapeutics, software solutions, and medical devices. During a 2-day business-focussed culture training, soft skills crucial for a successful relationship building and business communication in Japan were practiced. For a reality check, the SMEs presented their market entry plans on the following day and discussed them with 10 experts coming from their business sector, including peers, already successfully operating in Japan. On the last training day, the participants learned directly from Japanese experts about the life science environment in Japan, regulatory framework and business opportunities. Finally, two lawyers shared crucial information about the differences in IP protection and corporation/contract law.

One of the German participants, Dr. Alfred Hansel, CEO of oncgnostics, commented after the workshop: “These four days brought us months, if not years, closer to a marketing strategy for Japan!”. And from Greece, Dr. Andreas Persidis, CEO of BioVista, stated: “This has been a great training event. The mixture of background information on Japanese culture, with specific insights on the healthcare market by JETRO and also on IP/legal topics, have generated for us some promising go-to-market ideas.”

The SMEs will be putting their plans into practice during a 1-week visit to Japan in October, where the EU-Japan BioPharma Partnering conference in Osaka as well as the BioJapan convention is part of the programme.

Dieter Lingelbach, moderator of the peer panel session and COO of SIRION Biotech, summarized: “The Japanese market remains a top priority for many Europe-based life science companies despite all the challenges to enter. The 4-day workshop was quite intense and participants felt it was hands-on”.

The workshop organizer Dr. Stephanie Wehnelt, Head of International Affairs at BioM, sees the success of the training concept in the modern learning approach: “Companies and experts were going well prepared into the workshop. And while panel discussions, feedback rounds, and group work enabled direct exchange of experiences and learning from each other, only few frontal presentations were used to cover the more complex topics.” This modern training concept was also given a special mention by Daniel Gralki, Manager EEN and Information Service, EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation: “Looking at the whole programme of the workshop I was quite impressed. I think this is one of the best and most comprehensive pre-departure workshops I've ever seen.”

The workshop is part of the EIT Health initiative “Start.Smart.Global”, supported by EIT, a body of the European Union. The 1-year training programme aims to speed-up market success of European life science SMEs in Japan. The project is designed and executed by two of Europe’s most prominent Life Science Cluster Managements, BioM Biotech Cluster Development, based in Martinsried, and Medicen Paris Region from France.