Konica Minolta is accelerating business strategies for the precision medicine field, which supports drug discovery efficiency and ensures patients get the right dosage and treatment. We are strengthening the Healthcare Business with sights set on building synergy among Group companies.
Shifting business resources to the higher value-added field of precision medicine
The Healthcare Business is one of the core pillars of the Company, and we are now focused on getting into the precision medicine field in order to further grow the business.
Precision medicine seeks to provide a more advanced initial diagnosis and appropriate doses and treatments by distinguishing each individuals' physical constitution at the molecular level, their genes and proteins, and using these to group patients precisely. Konica Minolta is currently shifting business resources from its traditional businesses, which have involved developing and providing X-ray diagnostic equipment, ultrasound diagnostic systems, and medical IT solutions, to the field of precision medicine, where we can provide greater added value.
One such initiative has been the acquisition of Ambry Genetics (AG)*, a leader in genetic diagnostics business in the U.S in October 2017. And in November of the same year we added U.S.-based Invicro, which has extensive experience in support services for pharmaceutical development in the U.S. We also established a global headquarters in the U.S. in January 2018 to carry out precision medicine business initiatives. Through such efforts to ramp up business that contributes to medical development and maintaining and improving health, we are planning to achieve revenue of at least ¥100 billion by fiscal 2021.
*More information about AG is provided in Konica Minolta's Integrated Report 2017.
Trajectory for the Healthcare Business
Offering full-scale support services for pharmaceutical development with the acquisition of Invicro
Invicro provides support services for pharmaceutical development as a pharmaceutical development support services organization. The company excels in searching for and establishing central nervous system biomarkers* for cancer and Alzheimer's, in particular, and provides services to roughly 140 enterprises, mainly pharmaceutical companies.
The global pharmaceutical industry makes considerable R&D investments every year, to the tune of about ¥15 trillion annually. A corner of the industry where investment is expanding greatly is biopharmaceuticals, which involve the use of techniques such as gene recombination and cell culture. Because they work directly on diseases, biopharmaceuticals offer a host of benefits that include having fewer side effects and being potentially very effective for combating conditions such as cancer and Alzheimer's. However, due to the large amounts of time and costs involved in developing biopharmaceutical products, pharmaceutical companies often outsource R&D operations to outside specialist companies.
Konica Minolta is carrying out strategies to expand its bio-healthcare business with an eye to thoroughly satisfying the needs of this pharmaceutical industry. By combining our precision protein quantification technologies (HSTT), developed by utilizing material technologies developed in our silver halide film business, with Invicro's proprietary techniques and AG's proprietary genetic diagnostics techniques, we will provide high value-added support services for pharmaceutical development that will bring greater precision to searching and establishing biomarkers.
*Markers that express biological conditions related to things such as genes and proteins found in blood, urine, etc.
Bio-healthcare business sales forecast
Interview with the CEO of Invicro
CEO, Invicro LLC
Please tell us why Invicro decided to join the Konica Minolta Group.
The Konica Minolta Group and Invicro shared a similar business philosophy and strategic vision, which I believe is the core reason we joined forces. Though we weren't seeking a buyer, we had received a few offers; however, none of them seemed to align with our mission until Konica Minolta approached us. I knew Konica Minolta would be the strategic partner that would reinforce Invicro's core objectives, customer values and corporate culture, all while supporting our positive growth trajectory.
“Quality” was another instrumental reason we agreed to join the Konica Minolta family. Konica Minolta puts quality first, and for a company such as Invicro that puts science and engineering knowledge and expertise at the center of its business, quality is an essential ingredient to remain competitive, but most importantly to ensure 100% customer satisfaction.
I first met President Yamana in May 2017, and since then we have seamlessly aligned and integrated with Konica Minolta, resulting in an immediate impact to the enhancements of our service offerings and market positioning. Konica Minolta has been the ideal business partner in advancing our precision medicine capabilities, and developing new technologies across all therapeutic areas in the most efficient and cost-effective way, which has validated our decision on this unity. The combination of Konica Minolta’s robust precision medicine platform with Invicro’s strong track record with the world’s top twenty pharmaceutical and biotech companies, as well as leading research universities, will accelerate our mission by a couple of years to go beyond just the medical imaging and software sectors. Together we will offer customers a comprehensive solution that will include our best-in-class quantitative imaging biomarkers, advanced genomics services and digital pathology solutions.
What are Invicro's strengths?
Companies who achieve international growth are those that excel at utilizing and analyzing data, and Invicro exemplifies this. The way we process medical imaging data for our pharmaceutical sponsors, provides a consultative, streamlined approach allowing us to expand beyond the typical role of a preclinical discovery imaging company.
Invicro's infrastructure was built from a software and data analytics platform, VivoQuantTM and iPACS®, and has evolved into an industry leading service provider of quantitative imaging biomarker assays. This comprehensive mix of solutions offers translational capabilities across all drug discovery and development phases, from pre-clinical research to administrating first in-human studies to late-phase global multi-site clinical trials.
However, I believe Invicro's core strength lies within its employees. We started from an apartment in 2009 evolving into a company that now employs more than 330 people, including over 200 research scientists assisting with R&D for drug discovery and development, of which more than 60 have a M.D. or Ph.D. The team's overarching specialties run the gamut, which includes biology, chemistry, chemical engineering, biomedical engineering, and electrical engineering. Our innovation comes from inter-disciplinary collaboration, and no other Contracted Research Organization (CRO) providing pharmaceutical research and development support can offer this unique breadth of specialization, that is uniquely combined with our high-caliber research capabilities.
What synergies do you anticipate with Konica Minolta?
Becoming part of the Konica Minolta's precision medicine vision seemed ideal, as it complements perfectly with our ever-evolving imaging and data analytics platform. Invicro has made great strides in the medical imaging and software services sector, and now with access to Konica Minolta's precision protein quantification technologies (High Sensitive Tissue Testing (HSTT)), and the advanced genetic diagnostics technologies from Ambry Genetics, who was also recently acquired by Konica Minolta, the synergies among the three companies are endless. Collectively, we can provide our customers a holistic offering by adding state-of-the-art genomics and digital pathology services to our already full suite of imaging and software capabilities.
Combining Invicro's revolutionary 3D digital pathological diagnosis systems that digitize and separates tissue images with Konica Minolta's advanced HSTT technologies that quantifies biomarkers, will no doubt evolve into new value-added innovations to support our research sponsors and customers. Tie in Ambry's best in class genomics sequencing and bioinformatics capabilities into the mix, and I am fully confident that we can provide pharmaceutical and biotech companies, as well as CROs with an untouchable quality and capabilities in the clinical trial and biomarker services space.
Collectively our three organizations present a force of over 500 researchers that is an unstoppable competitive advantage, which underscores the overall value of this unique merger. It's exciting to see the immediate impacts from these synergies, in fact Konica Minolta's R&D team has spent eight weeks in Boston on joint research initiatives with the Invicro team, resulting in productive innovations, aligned processes and most importantly collaborative cultures.
Please talk about your goals and vision going forward.
We want to build an integrated precision medicine platform that will offer advanced technologies, industry leading expertise, and comprehensive research data that covers everything from genes to proteins, to cells, and organs. Such a platform that leverages the core strengths of Konica Minolta, Invicro and Ambry Genetics will be a competitive advantage no other will have in the marketplace.
As part of the Konica Minolta Group and with headquarters in Boston, Invicro's current global footprint of offices and laboratories from coast to coast within the United States to Europe, recently expanded into Asia based out of Tokyo. Being a part of a forward thinking global organization, has already presented fresh innovative ideas, and we are excited to see them evolve into value-added solutions within the drug discovery and development market.
Pharmaceutical R&D costs