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March 7, 2002
| TOKYO - Hitachi Ltd. plans to increase the amount of money it invests in start-up companies involved in bioinformatics and biotechnology. Over the next three years, Hitachi, Japan’s largest electronics maker, plans to invest around ¥1.5 billion ($11.3 million), says Masao Kato, president of the corporate venture capital office.

Kato is planning to spend some 10 percent of his 2002 budget on biotechnology and bioinformatics-related investments, growing to 20 percent in 2004. He is also looking for companies with strategic technologies that Hitachi needs both in the United States and in Japan. “We have a lot of technology related to bio,” says Shojiro Asai, general manager of Hitachi’s corporate technology office. “We have the information technology, such as servers, storage, knowledge analysis and information retrieval tools. On top of that we have instrumentation, and have developed a very powerful DNA analyzer.”

Hitachi has joined forces with Oracle and Myriad Genetics on a $185-million project to map the human proteome (the collection of proteins found in the human body) within three years. Hitachi is contributing the electronics and computer-processing technology to the venture, named Myriad Proteomics Inc., which plans to market its database once the research is complete.

Hitachi has also formed an alliance with Applied Biosystems (ABI).  Hitachi designs and develops DNA sequencers, which ABI’s parent company Applera sells worldwide. The two companies sell them jointly in Japan.—By Martyn Williams, IDG News Service

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