Japan’s innovative life sciences sector risks falling behind global rivals, according to Economist Intelligence Unit report

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  • High-quality scientific publications from Japan decreased by 17%
    between 2015 and 2019, while China’s increased by 80% during the same period.
  • Women make up only 15% of the R&D workforce, and foreign
    researchers account for only 5.6% of the R&D workforce in Japan vs. 28% in
    the US
  • Investment in R&D in Japan is far below that of the US or
    China (US$18.1bn vs. US$179bn and US$100bn, respectively).

 

TOKYO,
JAPAN – Media OutReach
– 29 September 2020 – Medical innovation in the life
sciences requires a holistic policy and market access environment that supports
everything from basic science to product research and development (R&D)
and, ultimately, commercialization. Though North America and Europe are
historically leaders in innovation for the life sciences, Japan has been a
leading contributor from Asia for decades. However, emerging life science
sectors in South Korea, and more recently China, are quickly catching up after
investing heavily in infrastructure, human capital, and R&D, as well as
enacting national policies to further bolster their life sciences ecosystems.

 

Supporting an innovative life sciences ecosystem in Japan
is a report by The Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by Pfizer. It
describes findings from a research project to investigate the enabling factors
contributing to an environment prioritising innovation in the life sciences
sector and how Japan compares to global peers. The research consisted of a
benchmarking scorecard exercise conducted between December 2019 and January
2020 covering four countries: Japan, the US, South Korea and China.

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Overall, while Japan is
still producing life science innovation at a high level, it appears to be
stagnating while the US remains ahead, and regional competitors are either catching
up to or surpassing Japan.

  • High-quality publications from
    Japan’s life sciences sector decreased by some 17% between 2015 and 2019,
    whereas China’s increased by nearly 80% in the same period, according to data
    from the Nature Index. Meanwhile, patents granted for pharmaceutical or medical
    technology innovation are trending upwards in South Korea and China but remain
    broadly stable in Japan and the US.  While Japan remains far ahead of
    regional neighbours South Korea and China in receiving new drug approvals from
    the US Food and Drugs Administration, it is notable that these all come from
    large, established biopharmaceutical companies in comparison to smaller
    relatively new biotech firms prevalent in the US. 
  • Japan’s R&D workforce is also
    under pressure, with universities shifting to employ researchers under
    short-term contracts, a small proportion of women researchers (15%),  and
    a lower number of international students or foreign researchers compared with
    the US (5.6% vs. 28%, respectively).
  • Finally Japan is also falling
    behind in terms of financing R&D; with US$18bn funding assigned in the last
    financial year where data were available, behind China’s US$100bn and US$179bn
    in the US. 

Several priority policy
areas were identified that should be addressed for Japan to maintain
competitiveness on the innovation global stage. These include: maintaining and
expanding a strong workforce (by encouraging more women into the R&D
workforce, supporting foreign research scientists to work in Japan and reskilling
existing employees); increased government spending on R&D and better
incentives for business enterprise; clarifying regulations around IP dispute;
encouraging technology transfer; and a clear and transparent policy for pricing
and financing innovative medicines.

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Jesse Quigley Jones, editor
of the report, said, “Japan has a tradition of innovation in the life sciences
and many strong contributing drivers in this field. However, progress appears
to be stagnating and, like with many countries, areas for improvement exist. In
order for Japan to maintain and strengthen its global position as a leading
innovator in the life sciences, a renewed investment in basic research,
supporting technology transfer and commercialization, and bolstering the life
sciences workforce are areas for priority.”

About the research

Supporting an
innovative life sciences ecosystem in Japan

is a report by The Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by Pfizer. It
describes findings from a research project to investigate the enabling factors
contributing to an environment prioritising innovation in the life sciences
sector and how Japan compares to global peers. The research consisted of a
benchmarking scorecard exercise conducted between December 2019 and January
2020 covering four countries: Japan, the US, South Korea and China.

About The Economist Intelligence Unit

The Economist Intelligence
Unit is the world leader in global business intelligence. It is the
business-to-business arm of The Economist Group, which publishes The Economist
newspaper. The Economist Intelligence Unit helps executives make better
decisions by providing timely, reliable and impartial analysis on worldwide
market trends and business strategies. More
information can be found at www.eiu.com or www.twitter.com/theeiu

About Pfizer

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At Pfizer, we apply science and our global resources to bring
therapies to people that extend and significantly improve their lives. We
strive to set the standard for quality, safety and value in the discovery,
development and manufacture of health care products, including innovative
medicines and vaccines. Every day, Pfizer colleagues work across developed and
emerging markets to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that
challenge the most feared diseases of our time. Consistent with our responsibility
as one of the world’s premier innovative biopharmaceutical companies, we
collaborate with health care providers, governments and local communities to
support and expand access to reliable, affordable health care around the world.
For more than 170 years, we have worked to make a difference for all who rely
on us. We routinely post information that may be important to investors on our
website at
www.pfizer.com. In addition, to learn more, please visit us on www.pfizer.comglobaland www.pfizer.co.jp (Japan)  

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