Harnessing Japan’s largest leading life-science funds to build and lead in a drug discovery ecosystem
We have established and managed two \10 billion life science funds: Mitsubishi UFJ Life Science I, launched in February 2017; and Mitsubishi UFJ Life Science II, set up in February 2019. These are among Japan’s largest private-sector funds dedicated to life sciences. Each fund invests in start-ups active in drug discovery, regenerative medicine, medical devices including digital health technologies, and other areas, with a maturity of 12 years.
Addressing unmet medical needs—that is, finding cures for incurable diseases—is an urgent task in the life science sector at present. Toward that end, major pharmaceutical or biotech companies have shifted to open innovation by collaborating with universities and start-ups. The research and development of a drug requires an investment of \500 to \2,000 million over two to five years, just from development candidate identification up to clinical trials. Furthermore, even if the drug reaches the clinical trial stage, the probability of making it to market is 10%, representing a high development risk. In the United States, therefore, an ecosystem has been established where the research results of universities, research institutes, and other academia are further developed by investor-backed start-ups, and then turned into final drug products by pharmaceutical or biotech companies. Underpinned by this ecosystem, 60% of US drug discoveries are now made by start-ups.
Our life science funds pursue the strategy of facilitating the creation of a drug discovery ecosystem in Japan. Specifically, besides follower investments in start-ups, we aim to support various processes from the nurturing of seeds for drug discovery to clinical development, by (1) drug discovery in academia: investing in start-ups that spun off from universities , (2) carveouts: investing in start-ups that were carved out from pharmaceutical companies and specialize in specific technology or disease fields , and (3) project finance: supplying risk money to pharmaceutical companies’ projects . Through these activities, we trust that we could contribute to advances in pharmaceutical development.
Nonclinical study package
Axcelead Drug Discovery Partners, Inc.
Evaluating the feasibility of nonclinical studies
Spera Pharma, Inc.
Assessing the viability of manufacturing drugs
* Chemistry, manufacturing, and control
EPS Holdings, Inc.
Appraising the practicability of clinical development strategies
Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University
Academic consulting agreement