Mayor, council members lead trip to Japan

As part of an ongoing effort to put Minneapolis on the map as a leader in the biotechnology and life sciences industry, Mayor R.T. Rybak and three City Council members spent a week in Japan on an economic trade mission.

Council President Barb Johnson (4th Ward) and Councilmembers Lisa Goodman (7th Ward) and Scott Benson (11th Ward) joined the mayor on the September trip, which also included city economic development staff members and a dozen business partners. The delegation spent the weeklong trip in Ibaraki, Japan, which is one of Minneapolis' sister cities.

The purpose of the trip was to promote Minneapolis' biotechnology and life sciences industry as well as learn about Japan's research institutes and industry leaders. The long-range goal is to build business partnerships for Minneapolis-based companies, Rybak said.

&#8220It was very effective, because we were able to open doors for our biotechnology companies and get their advanced researchers interested in the work here,” Rybak said.

Minneapolis' largest industry is biotechnology and life sciences, with the city's &#8220Lifesciences Corridor” containing 19 health and medical institutions and 61 research and clinical labs.

Rybak's trip was paid for by Meet Minneapolis. The councilmembers paid for their travel expenses with their office budgets. The councilmembers said they don't yet have the totals for how much the trip cost, but Benson said his airfare was roughly $800 and his hotel expenses were &#8220reasonable.”

The Minneapolis delegation spent time at the Bio Japan Expo, the University of Kyoto-Katsura Campus, the National Cardiovascular Center, the Osaka Bioscience Institute, the National Institute of Biomedical Innovation, the Saito Bio Hills Center, the Medical Center for Translational Research and the Cluster Project at Osaka University Hospital.

Benson said one of the most important things he took from the trip was important lessons on how to make a university research park, which would allow businesses and university researchers to work together to develop advances in bioscience and energy research.

&#8220Just the advances we could make in the life sciences and energy and the environment are huge,” Benson said.