York and Japanese biomedical foundation formalize partnership

York University and Japan’s Foundation for Biomedical Research and Innovation, located in the city of Kobe, have formalized a memorandum of understanding to promote the development and commercialization of innovative medical devices used to diagnose, treat and even prevent illnesses.

 The memorandum was part of an announcement of partnerships with India, Spain and Japan made by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty in Boston on May 7 at BIO 2007 – the world’s largest life sciences conference, which brings together about 1,700 exhibitors and 20,000 biotech professionals from around the world. 

Above: Michael Siu (fourth from left), York’s associate vice-president research, science & technology, with George Ross (third from left), assistant deputy minister, Ontario ministry of research & innovation, and members of the Ontario trade mission delegation in Japan in July 2006.

Michael Siu, York’s associate vice-president research, science & technology, met the foundation’s representatives on a trade mission organized last summer by Ontario’s Ministry of Research & Innovation. Aware of the concentration of companies making medical devices centred on the Town of Markham in York Region, the Kobe officials were keen to discuss ways they could work with the region’s small to medium enterprises.

The attraction was mutual.

"We are keen to…develop strategic networks in the medical device sector that will capitalize on trends and opportunities of mutual interest to Japan and Canada,” said Stan Shapson, York’s vice-president research & innovation. “This initiative will support mutually beneficial research, development and commercialization partnership opportunities."

The two institutions will collaborate on new and emerging medical device technologies, encouraging industrial innovation and developing economic relations and partnerships.

The York-Kobe partnership is part of a broader strategy in the development of medical devices that includes the proposed development of a National Centre for Medical Device Development (NCMDD). The NCMDD project, led by a consortium of public and private institutions, with York University as the leading academic partner, will harness the convergence of research strengths in information/computer science, biomedical technologies and micro-fabrication to design and build medical devices.

Typically micro-sized and implantable, examples of potential devices include glucose monitors that could eventually be designed to release insulin into a patient’s blood stream and sensors that allow doctors and nurses to monitor the well-being of a patient from a remote location.

The partnership with the Foundation for Biomedical Research and Innovation is one of several initiatives York is pursuing as part of its research & innovation outreach plan to enhance York’s reputation for basic and applied research and tap into new opportunities for its researchers.