DeNA hosts digital health startup pitch event with two major Japanese pharma firms


This is a guest post authored by “Tex” Pomeroy. He is a Tokyo-based writer specializing in ICT and high technology.


All photos in this article are courtesy of DeNA.

Today, “Digital Health” is garnering attention as being applicable to health maintenance, preventative medicine, drug production and the like. Game giant DeNA (TSE:2432) together with pharmaceutical majors Daiichi Sankyo (TSE:4568) and Takeda Pharmaceutical (TSE:4502) held a meetup event focused on Digital Health called D2T on 24 July, 2016. The objectives of the meetup not only involve spotting promising startups in the Digital Health arena but also promoting joint work and tie-ups among various firms for further invigoration of this industry.

Ten startups took center stage at D2T for appealing their company services to an audience ranging from medical device manufacturers to drug-related firms not to mention ICT/e-data startups gathered at the venue, DeNA’s headquarters in Shibuya, Tokyo. An audience numbering over a hundred - including venture capitalists and telecom outfits - packed the presentation room. DeNA Chairperson Tomoko Namba noted that D2T could contribute greatly to the networking within and furtherance of Digital Health industry in addition to the startups involved.

DeNA Chairperson Tomoko Namba

Among the startups that made the presentations were: iCARE, offering Carely health advisory service; Qualia, offering CaloNavi nutritional information service; Kids Public, providing pediatrics-related advice online; Medcare, providing preventative medicine support; ReasonWhy, providing a specialist-focused professional networking service Whytlink; CureApp, promoting treatment apps to improve health; H2L offering self-care device PossessedHand; Unlog, offering intestinal flora amelioration support; and LPixel, involved in medical image analysis, as well as a Nagoya University spinoff named Prevent involved in an Internet-based lifestyle improvement provision.

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The pitches included some by medical doctors who started up companies due to doubts felt about the current state of medicine in Japan and the world. Such perspectives are likely shared by many involved in the healthcare field, which fortunately in these times see many “non-medical” companies entering it; the changes in society wrought by digital networks are certainly opening up new opportunities while bringing in changes necessary in “unclogging” the delivery system related to health.

Although it is true that utmost attention must be given to safety and security, participation of forward-looking corporations like Takeda (now headed by a German CEO in reflection of a global outlook) and merger-result Daiichi Sankyo from the Japanese pharma side bodes well for the future. Along with DeNA which as a group offers digital services like the personalized genetic check service Mycode as well as a health recommendation media named KenCoM in addition to its mainstay game-related activities new activities by these players behoove watching.

Interestingly, DeNA was originally named DNA when its founder Namba who is now Chairperson of the company started up, though not involved in DNA testing or the like at onset. The former management consultant gained an interest businesswise in healthcare following her attaining success for the company as President. In recent years, the successful former startup has expanded not only into the health field but also owns a professional baseball team in Yokohama, along with other diversified commercial operations such as travel services.