Event 2023

Building Successful US-Japan Partnerships in Healthcare on August 31st, 2023


Building Successful US-Japan Partnerships in Healthcare
Thursday, August 31st, 2023
4:30–7:15 PM (PST)
Friday, September 1st, 2023 8:30-11:15 AM (JST)


Building Successful US-Japan Partnerships in Healthcare

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati | One Market Plaza, Spear Tower, Suite 1900, San Francisco

Enter on 55 Spear St
*Please bring your ID with you. (Link)

4:00-4:30  Registration
4:30-4:35 Opening Remarks – Mr. Yasushi Noguchi | Consul General of Japan in San Francisco
4:35-4:40 Welcome & Introduction – Steve Pollock | President, Japan Society of Northern California
4:40-5:15 Presentations by: Dr. Daniel Burnett, CEO, Theranova, Mr. Tom Kluz, Managing Director, Niterra Ventures, and one more speaker, TBD. Discussion will be moderated by TBD
5:10-5:45 Moderated discussion led by Ms. Kyoko Watanabe | Managing Director, DEFTA Partners
5:45-6:15  Audience Q&A
6:15-7:15  Networking Reception 

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati | One Market Plaza, Spear Tower, Suite 1900, San Francisco
Enter on 55 Spear St
*Please bring your ID with you.

Zoom link provided upon registration.

FREE, but advanced registration is required (Registration deadline: 8/29/2023)

*Hybrid Event

The US and Japan each have huge healthcare markets and well-developed ecosystems of sophisticated global life science companies that are building products, delivering care and driving innovation in the industry. These companies can be very competitive with each other – but they are also eager to find opportunities for collaboration that help them expand their capabilities. Building successful cross-border partnerships between Japan and the US can be daunting.

This program will feature three speakers with decades of practical experience in the healthcare field who will share three different perspectives on US-Japan collaboration. They will also reveal their secrets to success – as well as common pitfalls to be avoided.

Dan Burnett is a medical doctor and CEO of Theranova, a San Francisco-based incubator that has helped Japanese companies develop products that have successfully entered the US market.

Tomoko Ishikura is a Managing Partner at Kicker Ventures. She specializes in cross-cultural communications and partnerships, and leads the I/O and Global Fit Programs at Kicker. She mentors global entrepreneurs and is especially skilled at creating impactful connections and providing thoughtful proactive support.

Tom Kluz, is the head of investing at Niterra Ventures, the global venture capital arm of Niterra (formerly NGK Spark Plugs). Niterra has actively invested and collaborated with US ventures in the digital health field.

Ted Ruppel is the CEO & President of Shape Memory Medical, a company that commercializes minimally invasive endovascular devices that use Shape Memory Polymer (SMP) materials. He has extensive experience bridging relationships between early-stage companies and corporate partners in the US and Japan.

Our program will feature a panel discussion moderated by Kyoko Watanabe, managing partner of DEFTA Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm that focuses on healthcare companies.

We are also pleased to welcome Consul General Yasushi Noguchi of the Japanese consulate in San Francisco who will make some opening remarks.

This program will also serve as a kickoff event leading into our annual Japan Healthcare Week, which will take place in Japan during the week of Sept. 18 focusing on “The Future of AI and Robotics in Japan.” The key events in our program include a day-long symposium and networking reception in Nagoya on Sept. 19 in collaboration with the Nagoya University School of Medicine, and an Executive Forum in Tokyo on Sept. 21 in collaboration with LINK-J Japan, as well as a number of other events. If you are interested in our programs in Japan, please visit www.usjhealthcare.org for information.

Thank you to Wilson Sonsini for generously serving as the host of this program.

Burnett Headshot- 2021 (2)Dr. Daniel Burnett | CEO, Theranova
Dr. Burnett has a long history of medical device development. A Bioengineer by training, he spent a year at the Food and Drug Administration and worked for two years as a General Partner in a $160MM in a venture capital firm focused on Medtech and health IT. He holds an MD and MBA from Duke University and is licensed to practice in the state of California after completing his residency at the Mayo Clinic.

Since taking on the role of CEO at Theranova, Dr. Burnett has raised, or helped raise, over $350MM for the 17 spinouts including five that are on the market in the US, three in the EU and one in China. He is an inventor on over 40 issued patents and over 300 patents pending worldwide. He joined University of California San Francisco as an Assistant Professor and Industry Director in the Bioengineering Department in 2014. He serves as an Independent Board Member at Siren Health and serves on the Board of two nonprofits Enterprise for Youth and Ethonova.


Tomoko Ishikura | Managing Partner, Kicker Ventures

Tomoko is a Managing Partner at Kicker Ventures. She specializes in cross-cultural communications and partnerships, and leads the I/O and Global Fit Programs at Kicker. She mentors global entrepreneurs and is especially skilled at creating impactful connections and providing thoughtful proactive support. Before founding Kicker Ventures, Tomoko served as Business Development Advisor to Nipro, a global medical device company. In the past, she worked for Axios International in France, UNICEF in Rwanda, PwC’s PRTM and Aqumen Biopharmaceutical—a biotech startup in Japan. In addition to her role at Kicker Ventures, Tomoko teaches meditation classes in San Francisco and brings thoughtful and practical approaches back to her work. Tomoko is a pharmacist by training and holds an MBA from INSEAD.




Tom Kluz, Managing Director | Niterra Ventures

Tom Kluz serves as the Managing Partner at Niterra Ventures, spearheading global investments on behalf of Niterra Co., LTD across medical, energy & environment, and mobility sectors. While he oversees investment endeavors in all these domains, Tom is particularly renowned for his deep expertise in healthcare. This distinction stems from a decade-long stint as the Head of Global Healthcare Investing at Qualcomm Ventures and a pivotal role at Providence Ventures. While at Qualcomm, he pioneered dRx Capital, a collaborative venture between Qualcomm and Novartis. His association with industry stalwarts like Eric Topol and Don Jones led to strategic investments in, and board roles at, companies such as AliveCor, Cala Health, Doctor On Demand, Noom, and Science 37. Before his tenure at Qualcomm, Tom made a mark at Providence St. Joseph Health’s corporate venture capital wing, a major U.S. healthcare system. There, he championed investments in noteworthy ventures like AVIA, Collective Medical, Lyra Health, Omanda, Wildflower, and Xealth.


Ted Ruppel | CEO Shape Memory Medical
Ted Ruppel is the CEO of Shape Memory Medical and Chairman of Magnostics. He started his career as a manufacturing engineer, and has more than three decades of experience leading global organizations in highly competitive medical device environments to achieve exceptional results. His experience ranges from diagnostics to Class III devices, and startups to $100MM+ revenue companies. Expert in incubating and accelerating innovation, focusing development on customer needs, while building close partnerships with physicians, investors, institutions, and regulatory bodies. A proven record of accomplishment in the building of empowered multi-location research & development, production, distribution, regulatory, clinical, and production support teams that consistently deliver on time and beyond expectations. Ted has worked with several Japanese distributor partners in different clinical areas, including initial support of regulatory strategy, PMDA meetings, reimbursement applications, and finally sales and marketing training and assistance.

Moderator: Kyoko Watanabe | Managing Director, DEFTA Partners
DEFTA Partners has invested in early stage companies with innovative technologies in the US, Europe, Israel and Asia. As a Managing Director at DEFTA, Kyoko focuses on healthcare investments including medical devices, digital health and therapeutics in the US and Israel. With over 20 years of experience in the venture capital industry, she oversees the operation of DEFTA’s funds and has worked with many technology companies. Bringing valuable work experience with start-up companies in Silicon Valley and Japan, she has helped portfolios especially with their strategies to expand into Japan or form partnerships.

She currently serves as a board member at InformAI, iMedrix, 1World Online and DiA Imaging Analysis (just acquired by Philips) and a board observer at Actuate Therapeutics and Acepodia. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the San Francisco-Osaka sister city association and the Alliance Forum Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization which organizes global healthcare conferences to bring in leaders from diverse companies, academia, research institutions and governments to encourage cross-industry, cross-sector, and cross-border collaborations. She holds a BA from Seishin University and a MBA from USF.