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A License to Create iPS Academia Japan, Inc. IP

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A strong portfolio of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell patents makes this Kyoto-based company the doorway to cutting-edge research

iPS Academia Japan, Inc. manages in-licensing and out-licensing of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell patents, offering a one-stop service for iPS cell-related intellectual property. Boasting a portfolio of about 430 patents and patent applications in Japan, the U.S., Europe and other regions, the company even offers special pricing for small to mid-sized start-ups.
When Kyoto University’s Professor Shinya Yamanaka and his colleagues published a groundbreaking report on the induction of iPS cells from mouse embryonic fibroblast cultures in 2006, it opened the door to research possibilities around the world. In order to help such research results and related technology contribute to healthcare, two years later the university set up iPS Academia Japan to manage its extensive iPS cell-related patent portfolio.


A cluster of iPS cells; courtesy of iPS Academia Japan, Inc.

Handling Both In-licensing & Out-licensing

iPS Academia Japan’s business is two-fold. First, it manages in-licensing of patents related to iPS cells not only from Kyoto University but also from other universities and research institutions as well. Secondly, the company oversees out-licensing of iPS cell-related patents by providing patent licenses to companies and other institutions. iPS Academia Japan President & CEO Mitsuomi Shirahashi says the company “can provide a one-stop service” for iPS cell-related intellectual property.

Since its founding in 2008, iPS Academia Japan has already concluded license agreements with more than 150 entities worldwide, a third of them overseas companies. These include not only the pharmaceutical and reagent industries, but also the research instruments, research services and even food and chemical industries. “Kyoto University has tasked us with sharing the licenses with anybody who wants to use them,” explains Shirahashi.

Extensive Patent Portfolio

The number of patents and patent applications licensed to iPS Academia Japan has reached roughly 430 (in about 125 families), of which about 200 applications have been issued as patents in Japan, the U.S., Europe and other regions. The company promises fair and reasonable licensing conditions, using a transparent license program in which it publicly discloses the main conditions for contracts. iPS Academia Japan can also provide special pricing for small to mid-sized start-ups.

The most critical patent in its portfolio pertains to nuclear reprogramming. “Use of this patent is necessary for almost all types of work with iPS cells,” says Shirahashi. “However, this patent will expire 10 years from now, so in the near future we hope to have another key patent to replace it.”


Mitsuomi Shirahashi, President & CEO of iPS Academia Japan, Inc.

As iPS Academia Japan continues to expand its patent portfolio over the coming years, it hopes iPS cell research will be utilized by society effectively, efficiently and widely, as iPS cell research seems particularly promising in regenerative medicine and drug discovery. “Our mission is to increase iPS technology so that it can help as many patients as possible,” says Shirahashi.

Based on interview in December 2016