Toshiba Corp, Canon Inc and 30 to 40 other Japanese firms will team up to develop biochips, seeking new revenues in a market currently dominated by U.S. firms.
The companies, including synthetic fiber maker Toray Industries Inc and electronics firm Yokogawa Electric Corp, will together standardize microchips that respond to genetic material, said medical consulting firm MediBic spokesman Takashi Kawai.
The firms will work together to standardize biochips for medical diagnoses and food safety checks, eyeing a market they expect to grow to 100 billion yen in 2010 in Japan, he said.
Demand for biochip in Japan comes mostly from research institutions, where U.S. firms Affymetrix Inc and Agilent Technologies Inc are the dominant suppliers. The two hold patents for pinpointing DNA or RNA on membranes.
Many applications for biochips have yet to be developed, said Kawai. Some 30 to 40 companies have already signed on.
Canon and its Japanese peers are beefing up investment to develop products in quest of new growth drivers amid increasing competition in existing businesses from rivals in China, South Korea and Taiwan.
The group, with administrative support from government-affiliated Kazusa DNA Research Institute, will form a consortium on October 19, and will call on some 100 companies.