DefiniGEN: Leading the Way in Drug Discovery

“We have used several of the services provided by UKTI Japan from the very start of our market entry strategy in Japan. They come highly recommended.”

Dr. Masashi Matsunaga – DefiniGEN, Business Development Manager

DefiniGEN is a biotech spinout company established by the University of Cambridge in April 2012.

The company’s specialty is to provide a wide range of human cell products from iPS (pluripotent stem) cells, including liver, pancreas, and lung cells, to the life science and drug discovery sectors.

The company set its sights on Japan early on as it is the biggest Asian market for drug discovery, and the number 3 market in the world after the US and Europe. It is also a country of innovation as well as being a hub of iPS discovery.

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Their success in Japan is linked to the high quality of their product, which maintains a high viability even when exported from the UK, as well as their innovative product catalogue – DefiniGEN is the only company in the world who commercialises disease model cells derived from iPS, which enables the generation of pancreatic cells from iPS, and so on.

DefiniGEN has used the services provided by UK Trade & Investment extensively in its market expansion strategy. Market entry came from attending a UKTI organized oncology seminar in February 2014, after which they hired a business development manager and began discussions with distributors. This event also enabled them to meet potential pharmaceutical clients in Japan. DefiniGEN also participated in the UKTI-Takeda symposium in January 2015, are featured in UKTI newsletters, and are frequently introduced to key contacts within their industry.

The company is already planning its next steps for continued growth in the Japanese market. “DefiniGEN will launch a variety of cell types both for healthy (wild-type) and diseased model cells, and increase the number of project-based studies – not just distributing products in the catalogue, but designing projects together with clients,” says Masashi Matsunaga, Business Development Manager.

Matsunaga’s top tips for companies entering the Japanese market are, “To maximise market presence in the early stages, it is very important to do direct marketing to contact potential end- users, as well as appointing a reliable local distributor.”

“Japan may be a slow market to launch in,” he continues, “but once you have captivated key customers, your business will thrive for a long time.”


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DefiniGEN Case Study