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The Big Picture San Diego Blog

MetroConnect Prize Company Profile: IriSys

October 23, 2015

This is part of an ongoing series on the recipients of the MetroConnect Prize, presented by JPMorgan Chase, a grant awarded to 15 companies looking to expand into new foreign markets.

Over the past two decades, Asia has risen dramatically as a global economic powerhouse. With increased economic power, many Asian countries have also experienced increased population growth, increased household income, and higher life expectancy. 

Global companies are investing heavily in Asia in research and manufacturing, and while Asia was once seen as a place to outsource manufacturing and production, it is increasingly becoming a major R&D hub in its own right. Asia’s pharmaceutical industry is estimated to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars. A recent report by the Economic Intelligence Unit noted that regional pharmaceutical sales have reached $214 billion in 2010, and is expected to hit $386 billion in 2016.

The number of players in the global pharmaceutical industry is rising. However, there are still several barriers that prevent the industry from truly coming together.

IriSys, LLC, a San Diego-based contract pharmaceutical research and development and manufacturing company, aims to bridge the gap between Asia’s pharmaceutical firms and the U.S. market.

“We see the Asian markets, especially China and Japan, as areas where we can find new companies needing our services here in the U.S.,” said Gerald J. Yakatan, chairman and CEO of IriSys. “We are an important provider of services to biotech and pharmaceutical companies wishing to develop products to meet FDA standards in the United States. It is our view that drug discovery is becoming a world-wide effort, and that new drugs will emerge from improved basic drug discovery research occurring in Asia.”

With the richness of R&D efforts of Asian pharmaceutical companies, it is no wonder that the U.S. has now become the untapped market. IriSys is part of a globally collaborative movement that will expand access to pharmaceutical developments and enable companies to fulfill regulatory requirements in the U.S..

With the MetroConnect funds, IriSys plans to augment business development efforts in China and Japan.

“IriSys will be using the funds from the MetroConnect Award to further our on-going efforts to develop business in Asia,” said Yakatan.  “We have already translated our website into Mandarin, attended scientific conferences in both Japan and China, and will try to set up a business development office in Shanghai, China in 2016 to help create awareness of our capabilities.”

The success of small- and medium-sized businesses is critical to the region’s future, and increasing their global reach is crucial to that success. Through the MetroConnect Prize, companies such as IriSys received $10,000 in grants to assist with their next step going global.


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