Letter from the Chairman
Jack W. Moorman
Chairman, US-Japan Medtech Frontiers &
Partner, Nichibei Advisors, LLC
Our non-profit organization, US-Japan Medtech Frontiers, was formed in early 2013. The impetus was the strong desire by Japanese companies to grow their medical device businesses with innovative products. At the time, these innovative products were difficult to commercialize due to the lack of a robust ecosystem in Japan. However, during this period, there was in the US, particularly in Silicon Valley, a robust ecosystem with a large number of medical device start-ups seeking capital and distribution partners.
Our idea at USJMF was to help Japanese companies and US start-ups connect with each other and for USJMF to facilitate the initial introductions. This was not a new idea but we wanted to reach every Japanese company and all the US start-ups who had an interest. Our primary vehicle to reach such a large number of Japanese companies was our annual Japan Medtech Week which included an all-day Forum and a half-day Senior Management Symposium, along with many other events and meetings.
The results exceeded our expectations. The all-day Forum was first held in Sendai in 2014. Since then it has been in Osaka, Hiroshima, Okinawa, Shizuoka, and Kobe. The Forum was open to everyone with session topics such as future trends, disruptive innovations, overcoming barriers, market entry strategies, and concrete examples of successful collaborations. The Senior Management Symposium was an invitation-only event held initially at the US Embassy in Tokyo and more recently at the Life Science Innovation Network Japan, Inc. (LINK-J) in cooperation with US Embassy in Tokyo. The Symposium looked at medtech topics from a senior management perspective with an emphasis on strategy and provided an opportunity to meet CEOs from innovative companies.
USJMF has also contributed to the creation of a medical device innovation ecosystem in Japan. For example, our members offer advice to Japanese start-ups, act as judges in pitch contests, and we have supported the Japan Biodesign Program each year by placing the Fellows in US companies for their externships.
Now, with the pandemic, all has changed. We believe that the pandemic may continue in some important ways for years to come. The old “normal” may never return. In view of this possibility, USJMF has embraced a “new normal”. In April we held our first webinar where our speakers discussed COVID-19 and medical devices. On October 12th, 13th, and 14th, we held a major webinar in collaboration with the Japan Society of Northern California presenting twenty-two emerging growth companies and included a virtual networking session each day. We had a total of more than 500 attending over the three days. Part of our new normal will be to present webinars virtually while virtually and in-person assisting companies in making connections utilizing our members in Japan and the US.
We are grateful to our sponsors and members as well as to all of our supporting organizations in the US and Japan.