MOST, MOEA Team Up with Janssen to Foster Bio-Star in Taiwan
The Collaboration Project between the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) Taiwan and Janssen Biotech, Inc. (one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson), the first academia-industry collaboration that Taiwan has forged with a global pharmaceutical company, is bringing funding and focus to specific disease areas. Zooming in on cancer research, it solicited project proposals from Taiwan’s academic and research institutions in a bid to identify technologies that hold promise for development into drugs or medical and diagnostic equipment. Funds jointly offered by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), and Janssen will be distributed to academic and research institutions as R&D grants and assistance to advance projects of mutual interest. For the MOST, this project is an important international academia-industry collaboration for the year. But equally significant is its marking a milestone in Taiwan’s bringing R&D achievements in biotech to the international community.
Janssen, an international pharmaceutical company, is committed to the discovery and development of medicines for the treatment of some of the world’s most complex diseases, like cancer. Based on this commitment, Janssen’s Taiwan affiliate was a recipient of Common Wealth Magazine’s 2009 Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility Awards.
In 2019, the Taiwan-Janssen Project focused on research projects geared toward treating lung and colorectal cancer. R&D proposals from a non-profit division and two academic/research divisions were rated as worthy. The non-profit division, represented by Dr. Ping-fu Cheng and his team from the Biomedical Technology and Device Research Laboratories at the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), were awarded from Janssen a three-year grant of US$500,000, with an equivalent amount to be appropriated by the MOEA. Of the top three applicants from academic/research division, Assistant Prof. Hsing-chen Tsai and her team from National Taiwan University will secure a MOST grant of US$60,000 for developing blood tests to identify epigenetic markers that could act as early signs of cancer. Meanwhile, Prof. Jung-chun Lin and his team from Taipei Medical University will receive a MOST grant of US$40,000 for developing ways to apply intestinal metagenomic sequencing to the development of an in vitro screening platform meant for people most vulnerable to develop colorectal cancer. Janssen will provide both teams with one-on-one R&D guidance for six months.
MOST Deputy Minister Dar-Bin Shieh cites the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report 2019 that continued to rank Taiwan among global leaders in terms of innovation capability: No. 4 worldwide and No. 1 in the Asia Pacific. Moreover, the WEF rated Taiwan as one of the world’s four “super innovators.” Using its Health Care Index to gauge 89 countries, CEOWORLD Magazine also granted Taiwan the honor of No. 1. Taiwan has attracted the attention of leading global biotech and pharmaceutical companies because it owns the world’s best medical care system, excellent medical technologies, and top-notch R&D professionals. The MOST and MOEA joined forces with Janssen to foster research teams aimed at meeting the needs of the global medical care market by providing incentives to bring technologies to market and creating a process and model for cross-border collaboration to drive innovation.