“Local sales representative to identify new potential partners“
Metabolomic Discoveries is a biotech start-up company established in 2009 and headquartered in Germany.
Metabolomic Discoveries offers concepts and solutions for complex biological questions. This German start-up is composed of experts in high-resolution comprehensive metabolite profiling of any biological material. Metabolomic Discoveries aims to accelerate the research by combining analytical and big-data approaches. In 2015 Dr Schauer was selected for the EU-Japan Centre’s Biotech mission and met with a Japanese distributor with whom he was able to secure a partnership to sell Metabolomic Discoveries in Japan
Activities: Focusing on global metabolite profiling and targeted metabolite analysis for biotech and pharma industry and academic institutions.
Japan was already of interest for Dr Schauer’s company before the EU-Japan Centre’s Biotech SME/Cluster mission. Metabolomic Discoveries identified Japan as a high quality and valuable market with numbers of large pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and food & drinks companies, which constitute the company’s core target. In addition, Metabolomic Discoveries had a few contacts in Japan that they wanted to explore. Considering these elements, Japan was a serious avenue to explore and a chance to secure new promising business. In 2015, Dr Schauer was selected for the Centre’s Biotech mission and had the opportunity to travel to Japan and attend the BioJapan Expo in Yokohama.
During the mission, Dr Schauer made contacts with potential business partners while attending the different company visits organised by the EU-Japan Centre, as well as during the 3 days at BioJapan Expo, where Metabolomic Discoveries shared a booth with other selected European companies. This Mission was successful for the German company: during BioJapan, Dr Schauer met with a Japanese distributor with whom he established a good relationship. When back in Europe, he was able to secure a partnership with this distributor that sells Metabolomic Discoveries’ services. Through his Japanese distributor, the German start-up sold some of its services in Japan and was able to secure several customers and get new requests.
According to Dr Schauer, the language barrier remains a serious obstacle when doing business with Japanese partners. He explains that the easiest way to communicate with Japanese partners is to directly communicate in Japanese but it can involve additional costs. Another challenge pointed out by Dr Schauer is the reluctance of Japanese companies to do business outside Japan. For these reasons, using a Japanese distributors is seen as a key for Dr Schauer “It is the most efficient way to enter the Japanese market without a large budget”. This solution is also shared by Dr Chatgilialoglu from Remembrane who attended the Biotech Mission the same year as Metabolomic Discoveries (Please find Remembrane’s interview here).
Two years after the mission, Metabolomic Discoveries is now thinking about new strategies to further develop its activities in Japan. “Our current distributor is mainly a catalogue and online selling agent. We are currently thinking of contracting a local sales representative” explains Dr Schauer. Having a permanent representative in Japan would allow Metabolomic Discoveries to have a specialist on site who could actively identify new potential partners.
For Dr Schauer, European companies targeting Japan should not underestimate the time and resources needed to build relationships with potential Japanese partners. He insists on the necessity to use the Japanese language when dealing with Japanese companies. Distributors can also be used as a first step in Japan “This is a good way to gain experience and get to know the Japanese market“. In addition the reluctance of Japanese companies to work with foreign companies is a challenge that EU companies should keep in mind. Dr Schauer suggests that the products offered by European companies need to have a clear benefit and ideally should not be available on the Japanese market.
Interview made with Dr Nicolas Schauer, Managing Director at Metabolomic Discoveries