Below is the provisional translation of the original Japanese seminar: 第105回STIG PoPセミナー
[The objective of the bioeconomy seminar series] Since a bioeconomic report was created by the OECD in 2009, many countries in Europe and the United States have developed policy documents highlighting the bioeconomy and the momentum for the bioeconomy has been growing. It has also been declared in the Bioeconomic Strategy 2019 that Japan will create the world’s leading bioeconomic society by 2030 and update and promote its bioeconomic strategy every year. However, the bioeconomy concept is extremely broad and its specific overview is not sufficiently certain. This seminar therefore aims to invite experts of domestic/international trends and share information about the current status of bioeconomic developments with the participants. Through this interaction, we will consider the significance, strengths, and challenges of bioeconomies.
● Seminar Information
Date and time: June 3, 2021 (Thurs) 12:30 PM ~ past 3:00 PM
Venue: Online via Zoom
Organizer: Education and Research Unit, Science, Technology, and Innovation Governance (STIG), The University of Tokyo
Co-organizers: SIP’s (Strategic Innovation Promotion Program) consortium for public understanding (Masashi Tachikawa and Makiko Matsuo, in charge of overseas regulatory trends); Takashi Yamamoto, Project Leader of the Bio x Digital Transformation (BioDX) industry-academia co-creation center (for creating the world’s most advanced bioeconomic society from Hiroshima) and the professor and head of the Hiroshima University Genome Editing Innovation Center; Hideaki Shiroyama, representative of basic research (A) for Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (International governance of new information technology and biotechnology – The role of information sharing and private entities)
Number of participants: 75
– Explanation of purpose and overview of previous session: Makiko Matsuo (Specially Appointed Associate Professor, Graduate School of Public Policy, The University of Tokyo)
– The domestic and international trends and challenges of forming an ecosystem of synthetic biology and biofoundry
Akihiko Kondo (Vice President of Kobe University, Dean of the Graduate School of Science, Technology and Innovation, Kobe University,
Deputy Director, RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science (Yokohama)
– Current locations of where genomes are being edited:
Takashi Yamamoto (Head of the Genome Editing Innovation Center, Graduate School of Integrated Sciences for Life, Hiroshima University)
– Discussions (lecturers x comments from the audience + Q&A)
● Session report
In the beginning of this session, the moderator (Makiko Matsuo, The University of Tokyo) shared the purpose of this study session and the overview of the previous session, and then had each speaker present their topic.
First, Professor Akihiko Kondo, Vice President of Kobe University, Dean of the Graduate School of Science, Technology and Innovation, Kobe University, Deputy Director, RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science (Yokohama) explained the domestic and international trends and challenges of forming an ecosystem of synthetic biology and biofoundry. Bioeconomies consist of medical bio, green bio, and industrial bio. In light of that, attention is increasingly focusing on biofoundries, which are essential for the strategic development of bioeconomies. Along with specific explanations, he also argued that there is a global trend in the development of biofoundries and production processes that are developed by automating and ultra-streamlining DBTL (Design-Build-Test-Learn) cycle through AI, IT, and robots through synthetic biology, which introduces an engineering approach to biology. He explained that Kobe University has established the Bacchus Bio Innovation, which aims to become the only biofoundry corporation in Asia, and is working on forming an integrative platform that aggregates synthetic bio ventures such as DNA synthesis and genome editing.
Next, Professor Takashi Yamamoto, the head of the Genome Editing Innovation Center, Graduate School of Integrated Sciences for Life, Hiroshima University provided topics about the current locations where genomes are being edited. After the introduction of CRISPR Cas-9, the technical application and development of the genome editing technology have been domestically and internationally accelerating worldwide. There is also what is called prime editing, which is considered the next groundbreaking technology. Genome editing has unlimited potential with wide variety of applicable fields such as agriculture (bio fuel, breeding) and health care (disease model creation, drug discovery, therapeutics). He explained the various initiatives of Hiroshima University including industry-university cooperative research consortium that the university launched, as well as the current initiatives of the BioDX industry-academia co-creation center involving collaborations with mutual data utilizing organizations, intellectual property strategies, drug discovery support, and development of an open platform that supports genome editing.
The session involved discussion between the two researchers, who are both leading figures in synthetic biology and genome editing and have been proactively starting domestic university-launched ventures and forming networks, from various viewpoints including Japan’s R&D strategy, intellectual property strategy for industrialization, and challenges to cultivating talents.