JUNICHI NONAKAExecutive officer in charge of R&D strategy
Over the past 120 years, the Company has been leveraging its technical expertise and making proposals to customers for products with a wide range of added value. Drawing on the fermentation technologies, biotechnologies, and mass production technologies cultivated in the beer business, Kirin advanced into the pharmaceuticals business, and subsequently implemented a merger with Kyowa Hakko to create Kyowa Hakko Kirin as a member of the Kirin Group. In these ways, the Group has developed a broadly based technical expertise.
Under the MTBP, which was launched in 2016, we will address health and other social issues through our core businesses—alcoholic beverages, non-alcoholic beverages, and pharmaceuticals and bio-chemicals. By creating new value in this way, we will aim to achieve sustained growth in tandem with society.
To that end, we will foster further collaboration between the alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages business and the pharmaceuticals and bio-chemicals business. By combining the technologies possessed by each business, we will strive to accelerate the creation of new value. In addition, to facilitate the development, application, and commercialization of promising technologies, we will further step up the active utilization of open innovation.
We will take on the challenge of addressing social issues and the expectations of customers while leveraging the technical expertise that is the strength of the Kirin Group.
The Research & Development Division includes six laboratories that handle work ranging from basic research and applied research to technical development. In addition, the division also includes the Research & Development Planning Department, which plans and promotes R&D, and the Intellectual Property Department, which supports development operations through the acquisition and utilization of intellectual property. The Research & Development Division conducts R&D while working in a unified manner to foster close cooperation with other divisions and Group companies. In the three fields of taste and quality, health, and the environment, the division aims to create new value that will lead to better products and services.
In an environment marked by dramatic change and difficulty forecasting the future, Kyowa Hakko Kirin is implementing a range of initiatives to fulfill its mission and to build its presence as a global specialty pharmaceutical company.
In accordance with its medium- to long-term strategy, Kyowa Hakko Kirin is working to maximize its strengths by establishing a global organization, developing and utilizing diverse human resources, and thoroughly implementing category strategies.
Moving forward, Kyowa Hakko Kirin will aim to further advance the independence and coordination of the category and function-based organization that are distinctive features of the Research & Development Division, to launch three global strategic products, and to discover compounds in the development pipeline. Through these initiatives, Kyowa Hakko Kirin will cultivate strengths in technologies and disease areas. Leveraging these strengths, Kyowa Hakko Kirin will expand the pipeline so that it maintains its value even under evolving medical treatment systems 5 and 10 years in the future. In this way, Kyowa Hakko Kirin will continue to take on the challenge of new innovation.
By combining the technologies, materials, and know-how that Group companies have cultivated in the areas of alcoholic beverages, non-alcoholic beverages, and pharmaceuticals and bio-chemicals, we are aiming to create new value, concentrating on the field of well-being. In this way, we are establishing environments for the promotion of open innovation within the Group. We hold Groupwide exchange meetings in which researchers can freely share ideas with one another and cross-over themes can be promoted, as well as periodic meetings for the sharing and announcement of research results. In addition, we are also working in a proactive manner to utilize and develop R&D personnel through human resources exchanges within the Group. Moving forward, we will further strengthen these initiatives to foster the spirit of taking on new challenges.
This patented caffeine-free manufacturing process, which has been developed independently by Kirin and granted as a patent, is a technology for the selective adsorption and removal of caffeine in green tea while maintaining the tea's taste. This technology is used for Kirin Caffeine Zero Namacha, the world's first* bottled green tea beverage to be caffeine free. In addition, this technology has also been used for the Kirin Gogo-no-Kocha brand. In this way, this technology is contributing to the creation of products that can be consumed with peace of mind by pregnant women and nursing mothers, small children, and seniors.
Diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating technology, which was developed independently by Kirin, reduces the oxygen permeability of containers by coating the internal surface of PET bottles with a thin layer of carbon. Applying DLC technology to PET bottles for wine results in significant reductions in weight in comparison with glass containers while maintaining product quality. This leads to reduced CO2 emissions during manufacturing and distribution. This feature, combined with the ability to recycle the caps and bottles, makes a significant contribution to reducing the environmental burden.
Research groups at Kirin and Koiwai Dairy Products discovered Lactococcus lactis JCM5805 (designated as "Lactococcus Plasma"), a strain of lactic acid bacteria that activates plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs), which enhance immunity against viral infections. In addition, we conducted an oral intake experiment using healthy people in winter and confirmed that the ingestion of Lactococcus Plasma significantly reduced cold and influenza-like symptoms. These research efforts, along with our commercial applications in a variety of products, including yogurt, non-alcoholic beverages, and supplements, have been highly evaluated by the Japan Society for Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Agrochemistry (JSBBA). We received the JSBBA Award for Achievement in Technological Research in 2016.