Takeda, Astellas, and SMBC to establish drug discovery joint venture

Norbert Gehrke
Tokyo FinTech
Published in
2 min readApr 22, 2024

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Takeda Pharmaceutical, Astellas Pharma, and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation have concluded a basic agreement to establish a joint venture company to incubate drug discovery startups towards the creation of innovative pharmaceutical products originating from Japan.

Japan, one of the world’s leading countries for new drug development, has numerous academics engaged in innovative basic research in drug discovery and global pharmaceutical companies with expertise in early-stage seed research and drug discovery capabilities, both possessing attractive drug discovery seeds. However, in recent years, the “valley of death,” where innovative technologies and drug discovery seeds originating from academia fail to efficiently translate into clinical applications, has become a challenge. To address this issue, Takeda, Astellas Pharma, and SMBC have been discussing the establishment of a joint venture company that will comprehensively cover the entire process from early drug discovery research to the establishment of drug discovery startups.

The joint venture company, to be established by mid-2024, will be based in the Shonan Health Innovation Park in Fujisawa City, Kanagawa Prefecture, witch a capital of approximately JPY 600m. Takeda will hold 33.4%, Astellas Pharma 33.4%, and SMBC 33.2%.

The joint venture company will focus on the following three areas:

  • Promotion of innovative drug discovery ideas originating from Japan to the global pharmaceutical market
  • Incubation of globally competitive drug discovery technologies and fostering entrepreneurship
  • Revitalization of the drug discovery ecosystem through the creation of startup companies

In addition to establishing the joint venture company, Takeda and Astellas Pharma will provide support to the joint venture based on their expertise in global drug research and development, leading to open innovation in new drug development, facilitation of the social implementation of drug discovery seeds, and the creation of startups engaged in the development of innovative pharmaceutical products. The joint venture company plans to initiate incubation activities, including accessing promising drug discovery seeds held by domestic academia, pharmaceutical companies, startups, and engaging in joint research.

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Norbert Gehrke
Tokyo FinTech

Passionate about strategy & innovation across Asia. At home in Japan. Connector of people & ideas.