X-HUB is a platform to accelerate business growth globally and support startups based in Tokyo, providing them with access to a wide range of domestic and foreign investors and major corporations. It implemented business matching with foreign corporations this season and held events aimed at gaining knowledge about global market. The number of companies which joined X-HUB program this year and concluded NDAs with global company is more than 90. Furthermore, over 4,000 participants attended in its events including online attendance.
We interviewed LPIXEL, one of the X-HUB program participants in 2019, about the reasons why they targeted for global expansion, the current business situation and more details about X-HUB program.
- LPIXEL was founded in 2014. Could you tell us about your business?
Our service is to assist medical image processing. We develop a software in which artificial intelligence (AI) analyzes such medical image data as microscopic pathological diagnosis images, computed tomography (CT) images and mammography for breast cancer screening. When doctors examine a patient’s brain by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data, they have to assemble nearly 200 images to detect abnormalities by picturing 3D structure. While doctors will determine the final diagnosis, our software can help reduce their burden of examining lots of images and prevent them from overlooking symptoms.
I believe that the 21st century is the era for life-science and IT. As regenerative medicine represented by IPS cell, gene mapping and gene therapy gather keen attention, the importance of life science in daily life increases. Our goal is to bring substantial change to the world of research and healthcare, combining cumulative data in medical field with IT and AI.
- How was the feedback from users?
I was so glad to receive the comment from one of our users, “I can’t work without LPIXEL’s services anymore once I used”. Conducting more than 30 joint researches with universities and research institutes for practical use, we try to expand our services more. As the news reports daily, there are still many challenges in the medical industry： shortage of doctors, long working hours and misdiagnoses. As a physician diagnoses in a limited time with a large number of images, there is also a risk of overlooking an anomaly. That’s why we would like to support healthcare professionals who bear anxiety in their decisions.
On the other hand, our challenge is the adjustment of AI. It is necessary to adjust the sensitivity. Sensitivity in this regard means a percentage of correct judgement to identify a positive reaction to disease. As the diagnostic standards of each country vary, it’s also important to control the user’s expectation. In any case, we are currently pursuing image quality to raise the sensitivity of AI and making it learn images of many lesions.
- Why did you attend the X-HUB program with Boston Scientific Corporation?
- Targeting for global expansion, I was looking for a partner who was able to develop local markets and collaborate with us. Boston Scientific, one of the world’s leading medical device companies has a broad connection with Southeast Asian countries. In the two months X-HUB program from October 2019, I came to acquire the knowledge for global expansion through training for a pitch and a business talk in English. The program also showed us the possibility of joint development with overseas manufacturers and helped develop sales agents.
- You also attended the X-HUB program, Expansion Support Course Germany in 2018.
Believing that technology can be useful all over the world, we collected various information in hope of global expansion from the beginning of our journey. Back in history, Japan learned medicine from Germany. High respect for biology is rooted and many global medical manufacturers are based there. From those points, I participated in the Expansion Support Course Germany in 2018.
Though we didn’t get any instant and concrete achievement in this program, we could explore various needs and local partners. In the near future, if there are business matching opportunities and global expansion programs, we would like to take on a challenge.
- Could you share some advice for companies trying to succeed in the global market?
It is important to clarify your vision of why you do business in Japan and why you want to expand globally. Japan already has a certain size of market and I think that there are many issues that cannot be solved easily for global expansion. It depends on where you set the stage for your business. If you have a firm vision, you may see the next concrete action for the future.
Localization will also be an important key. In the medical field, disease standards, treatment methods and laws slightly vary from country to country. Some patients will not be diagnosed in the U.S. as cancer but is so done in Japan. Medical is deeply tied to national laws and it takes time to start something new or change existing practices. Additionally, there are many things that cannot be controlled by a single company. Presumed that there will be various issues for global expansion in the near future, we would like to improve the world through innovative discoveries and inventions with passion to fulfill our mission even we take the risks.