Thirty scientists and industry experts from London’s universities, biotechnology companies, and health science associations, are in Tokyo today as part of the biggest UK life sciences trade mission to go to Japan in ten years. The delegation, led by the greater south east’s cluster organisation, MedCity, with the Department for International Trade, London & Partners, and the Northern Health Science Alliance, aims to build on Japan-UK collaborations and showcase the UK as open for investment, research, and business.

Business Minister Lord Prior, along with academics from Imperial College London, University College London, and King’s College London; leading biotechnology companies, Imanova and Orchard Therapeutics; the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult and the Mayor’s International Business Programme, are hosting a UK Symposium today before heading to Asia’s biggest biosciences conference, BioJapan, in Yokohama from 11 – 13 October.1

Investment into the South East of England

Japan is the second largest market for life sciences Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the greater south east of England and over the past twelve years projects have generated over £170 million and 1,500 jobs.2

Investment into the south east of England over the past 11 years has been dominated by non-EU countries, with Japan, the US, and India contributing nearly 56 per cent of total investment.

The region’s 3,300 life sciences companies; world-leading research centres, including The Francis Crick Institute, Imperial White City, and Harwell Oxford; and cutting-edge projects such as the 100,000 genomes project and the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Alliance, make it an attractive place to do business.

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.

Lord Prior of Brampton, Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, who recently launched the Science and Innovation Audits, 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.”

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.”

Dr Oscar Ces, Professor of Chemical Biology at Imperial College London, said: “The UK and Japan’s brilliant scientists are shaping the future. In the past five years alone, Imperial academics have co-authored more than 1,000 research papers with their Japanese peers. This represents a wealth of discovery and opportunity for both nations.”

Dr Ilan Rabiner, Chief Medical Officer at Imanova and Reader in Molecular NeuroImaging, King’s College London said: “As a world leading imaging business, Imanova has a long track record of fruitful collaboration with Japanese researchers and our recently launched pre-competitive MIND MAPS programme, looking to characterise sensitive molecular markers of neurodegeration, already involves leading academic researchers at King’s College and Imperial College, London and Hamamatsu Photonics. The recent acquisition of Imanova by Invicro and Konica-Minolta Healthcare offers exciting opportunities for future joint work between our new company and Japanese collaborators.”

Professor Alan J Thompson, Garfield Weston Professor of Clinical Neurology and Neurorehabilitation, University College London, said: “Our current partnerships such as that with Eisai are true collaborations, built on trust and a deep understanding of the science that has developed through close alignment of expectations. This partnership, brings scientist from both organisations to work side by side addressing a major global challenge and has highly impacted the research strategies of both organisations. In this trip, we will strengthen our current collaborations and embark on developing new partnerships in areas of strength at UCL; in Cancer, Neurodegeneration and Cell, Gene and Regenerative medicine.”

Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor of London for Business, said: “London is one of the greatest scientific cities in the world, at the very forefront medical research and innovation. The city is a truly global location for ambitious companies looking to expand and invest so I am delighted that we are sending such a large delegation to BioJapan to bang the drum for this hugely important sector.”

Dr Liz Mear, NHSA 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.”


Media Contact: For more information, contact Kim Watson, Communications Manager, MedCity at or call +44 (0) 7553 374546.

  1. BioJapan:
  2. MedCity, FDI Life Sciences Report, 2017
  3. HIgh-res photographs can be found at this Dropbox
  4. The UK press release can be viewed here: