“We are providing our sample products to early adopters. The next step is to launch the product officially by the end of this year.”
OriCiro focuses on the development and commercialisation of cell-free synthesis and amplification technologies of large DNA molecules. One of the company’s proprietary technologies enables cell-free amplification of large DNA molecules, an efficient and easy-to- operate approach that aims to replace conventional E. coli cloning.
Here, Bio Market Insights’ Liz Gyekye catches up with Seiji Hirasaki, CEO of OriCiro Genomics.
Liz Gyekye (LG): What’s the story behind OriCiro Genomics?
Seiji Hirasaki (SH): The company was founded in 2018. It is based on cell-free DNA assembly and amplification technology invented by Dr. Masayuki Su’etsugu, an associate professor of Rikkyo University and the CSO of the company. He always saw the great potential of his invention for synthetic biology. In addition, the formation of the company was also led by the University of Tokyo Edge Capital (UTEC) for the purpose of commercialising the invention as a platform technology for synthetic biology.
I joined the founding team to lead the company as CEO.
LG: What were you doing before this role?
SH: Prior to founding OriCiro, I was working as a COO for Tokyo-based gene therapy company called AnGes. I worked here for 16 years with responsibilities for business and corporate development functions. I actually started my career working as a journalist with Nikkei, a leading economic newspaper in Japan, covering biotechnology, medicine and science policy. Whilst working here, I would interview everyone from scientists to investors. In fact, my interest in biotechnology was really garnered whilst working here.
LG: What’s been the biggest challenge in growing the company?
SH: We are working on a platform technology. So, this can be used for a wide range of potential customers in a variety of sectors. This doesn’t apply to just pharmaceuticals, but areas such as diagnostics, food, agriculture and industrial biotechnology. It’s not easy to focus on one potential sector. We need to talk to people in different industries. That is challenging. On the other hand, it means the opportunities for growing our company is quite large.
LG: What advice would you give to somebody looking to launch a new product in this space?
SH: Once you have done some research and have confidence in your new idea, don’t be afraid – just jump in.
LG: What are you doing next?
SH: We are providing our sample products to early adopters. The next step is to launch the product officially by the end of this year. Earlier this year, we raised our first series of funding and we are expecting our next round of funding at some point in the middle of next year.
LG: What would you say to people who are critical of synthetic biology, especially on an ethical level?
SH: Technology is not to blame per se. What matters is how you make use of it beneficially while minimising the risk of misuse, which should be addressed by public policy and industry standards. We intend to comply with high ethical standards.
LG: What would you say is your favourite sustainability product?
SH: I like any energy-saving electrical product.