Accepted paper:

"All Japan" policies and the entrepreneurialisation of regenerative medicine (RM) in Japan


Margaret Sleeboom-Faulkner (University of Sussex)

Paper short abstract:

I assess the impact of ‘All Japan’ life science policy-making on regenerative medicine (RM), in particular iPS, and its translation into medical products. I argue that it has led to the entrepreurialiation of pluripotency research, but with unintended consequences for its internationalisation.

Paper long abstract:

This article tries to assess the impact of life science policy-making on RM, in particular pluripotency, and its translation into products in Japan. Enormous investment into RM and policies intend to stimulate economic growth and to support the country's scientists in becoming the first to deliver iPS therapies to patients. These efforts have lead to a myriad of collaborative efforts with science institutions, regulatory agencies and industry, which involve entrepreneurial talents ranging from management, biobanking, investment, property rights and ethical review to negotiation with government agencies and industry and people skills. The entrepreneurial aspects of these life science collaborations are captured in the notion of bionetworking, which I use to analyse the various collaborative bioclusters that have come about as a result of Japanese assertive policies. I will argue that, first, policies that identify iPS with Japanese RM have overestimated the potential of iPS therapy and underestimated its consequences for other stem cell fields; second, "All Japan" policy, which seem to concentrate on Japan, in fact focuses on the international expansion of medical products; and, third, the regulatory facilitation of iPS has increased the entrepreneurialisation of RM in a number of unintended directions. The aim of this article is to increase the understanding of the friction points between self-assertive national policy-making on RM and its internationalisation.

panel P25
Biomedicine, entrepreneurship and future ecologies of health care