OIST to set up venture capital company

September 13, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

Within the next fiscal year, the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) plans to set up a venture capital company that provides protein substance information to pharmaceutical companies. This information is important for companies when creating medicines. The school has a patent on the technology the new company will use.

This is the first step for the school to promote the self-sustaining development of Okinawa and to make a contribution to science and technology development in the world. They hope to promote the creation of intelligent industrial clusters and employment.

Setting up venture capital companies is part of the Program for Creating Start-ups from Advanced Research and Technology that the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology adopted in fiscal 2012. To assist with the costs of research and development and market research, the ministry provided subsidies to the program of about 1.5 million yen in fiscal 2012 and about 30 million yen in 2013.

Someone outside the school with experience running companies will become the president of the new company.

The school is now considering the location and the annual revenue target for the company, which will return part of its profit to the school as a patent royalty. OIST will put that funds towards its management costs. Ulf Skoglund, professor at the school developed the Three-Dimensional Molecular Structure Analysis. The school has a patent on this technology and the company will use it.

According to a representative of the Project Development Section of the school, pharmaceutical companies need to know how medicines that have been developed influence protein substance. The companies need to conduct many experiments to establish how medicines work because at the molecular level existing methods cannot picture about 80 percent of protein substance.

The technology that the school has developed can picture that 80 percent.

The representative said, “This technology provides effective information to pharmaceutical companies for when they have their newly-developed medicines internationally approved. It is possible that the companies will not need to conduct the experiments that currently run, which will reduce their costs.”

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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