U.S. entrepreneurs tap Japan's $32B device market

Thanks to a language barrier and a strict healthcare system, Japan faces a technology gap in the medical device field, lagging behind the U.S. in the adoption of new methods and techs. With their company, Nipponica, 6 American entrepreneurs are working to bridge that gap and cash in on Japan's $32 billion device market in the process, The Financial Times reports.

Nipponica, founded by graduates of Duke University's global executive MBA program, works with doctors in Japan to identify areas of need, and then ports medical devices available in the U.S. to that country. Many of the techs aren't approved by Japan's Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Agency, but that's no trouble for the company. Unlike in the U.S., doctors in Japan have authority to implement non-approved techs and treatments, and by getting devices into physicians' hands, Nipponica has a platform to promote the techs and expand its market share, the FT reports.

The company targets mid-size American devicemakers, securing Japanese marketing rights to their techs, and then signs up doctors to endorse the devices and help them get a foothold overseas, its founders said. For instance, Nipponica has exclusive marketing rights in Japan for Panacea Global's early-detection cancer blood test, a diagnostic yet to be approved there.

After introducing devices to Japan, Nipponica also files for regulatory approval there, looking to move toward broad commercialization for the techs it has licensed. And, thus far, the response has been positive, the company's founders tell the FT. Japanese doctors have been eager to adopt new devices, and many have suggested innovative uses and applications for them, according to Nipponica.

- read the FT story