The Kirin Group’s operations spanning both food and pharmaceuticals ideally position it to create value and address social issues by combining its specialties in fermentation technology and biotechnology developed through our original beer business and the pharmaceutical and biochemical technologies acquired through our diversification strategy since 1980s. We are also building the new businesses bridging Pharmaceuticals and Food & Beverages to be a core part of the Kirin Group’s portfolio. In this domain, we will combine our unique evidence-backed food ingredients and competitive technological capabilities with open innovation to make this new domain a sustaining pillar of the Kirin Group.
In the food & beverages domain, we will contribute to society by developing products with new value by advancing technology throughout the supply chain to improve product quality and business profitability.
In the pharmaceuticals domain, we aim to create new medical value by leveraging our leading biotechnologies and advancing R&D mainly in the four areas of nephrology, oncology, immunology/allergy, and the central nervous system.
The mission of the new businesses bridging Pharmaceuticals and Food & Beverages segment is to provide new value in the four areas of lifestyle support, immune system, brain function, and plant-based “smart cells.” The new segment’s consumer targets fall into the categories of individuals with specific needs and preventive healthcare. We will support specific needs by applying the high-function materials developed in our food & beverages business to address unmet medical needs. In preventive healthcare, we will apply the Kirin Group’s proprietary expertise in the pharmaceuticals business to build a unique operation that meets specialized needs.
Platforms for manufacturing biopharmaceuticals mainly use microorganisms and animal cells. Animal cells are usually used to produce proteins with the complex structures of protein. However, the process requires high-precision environmental control of the technology and equipment. In recent years, simplified manufacturing equipment and production platforms using plants have been coming under the spotlight. The Kirin Group has extensive experience developing plantbased mass propagation technologies, and combining our expertise with the technologies of Kyowa Hakko Bio in microorganisms and Kyowa Kirin in animal cells gives us an unmatched global scale with capabilitiesacross three functional substance cultivation platforms.
Kirin has amassed a wide variety of plant-related technologies since the 1980s. One of our biggest successes is the development of our unparalleled technology for mass propagation using liquid culture media from plant bodies from stems and sprouts to somatic embryos. Technology for mass propagation already existed, but it was mainly labor-intensive manual work.The techniques we developed using highly production-efficient liquid cultures that enabled commercial production of a wide range of plant species played a key role in the development of our agribio business.
In commercial manufacturing, cost is also important. Our unique research has led to the development of a lowcost bag-type culture vessel system that can take the place of expensive, large culture systems. We streamlined the mass propagation system to reduce both input and labor costs by using specially designed plastic bags for the culture vessels to make it lightweight and by designing it for simplicity so it can be operated by just a few people.
Kirin’s development of this technology put the Group at the forefront of plant “smart cell” propagation technology using plant cells to produce functional substances. At the same time, the achievement of enabling sterile conditions for the propagation created an entry point for R&D directed at the medical field, which requires strict quality control.
Kirin joined the government-led New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). In 2016, NEDO launched a five-year plan to
develop production techniques for highly functional biomaterials using smart cells of plants and other organisms. We are developing a propagation process using plant-based propagation technology that can efficiently mass-produce active-form vitamin D3 used in drug treatments for osteoporosis and other diseases.
In 2018, we built the Plant Research Center on the grounds of our Fukuura Research Park to serve as a pilot facility with cleanroom specifications for demonstration of medical research reagents and production processes of ingredients for pharmaceuticals from plant cells. We are fine-tuning our technology for plant biology platforms and laying the groundwork to enter the pharmaceutical ingredient business.
Our development roadmap for these operations is to launch the medical research reagent business in 2021 and the veterinary medicine raw material businessin 2024. We will then aim to enter the high value-added field of pharmaceutical ingredients in 2027.