Nipro injects millions into its first-ever medical research center on foreign soil: in Flanders

In 2018, Nipro took a new direction. The Japanese pharma and medtech firm decided to build its first-ever ‘institute for MEdical Practice’ (iMEP) on foreign soil, and chose the town of Mechelen (Flanders) as the location. Coupled with an investment in a new EMEA HQ, this decision earned Nipro a nomination for Flanders Investment & Trade’s 2019 Foreign Investment of the Year Trophy. “We are very proud to have the trust from our Japanese parent company and receive acknowledgement from Flanders,” says Serge Kemps, CEO of Nipro Medical Europe.

In 2018, Nipro’s new medical center in Flanders welcomed 400 employees, medical professionals and students from around the globe. At the iMEP center, these seasoned specialists and experts-in-the-making are not only introduced to the latest medical equipment and technologies developed by Nipro, but also to cutting-edge medical practices and therapies.

Groundwork for an innovative future

To turn the iMEP center into a medical knowledge hub in the months and years to come, the company teams up with renowned medical professionals and academics from Flanders and beyond.

Serge: “Our goal is to attract over 1,000 people from all over the EMEA region next year. To pull this off, the new facility has a fully equipped research center where international Nipro employees as well as medical, nursing and research professionals will be trained. And thanks to robotics and other technologies available, the center’s visitors can practice specific medical applications in a hands-on way. Our goal is to offer the broadest medical training program possible.”

But Nipro has another strategic objective in mind. Serge: “The facility is on the same site as our new EMEA headquarters, providing Nipro with a strong backbone for our activities across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The iMEP center will also contribute to the development of new products. After all, the feedback we receive from the center’s visitors and trainees drives our innovation and R&D initiatives.”

“Nipro funneled EUR 24 million into building a new EMEA HQ and medical research center in Flanders. Our goal? To establish a strong foothold in the EMEA region as well as a knowledge hub where we can help the medical world advance.” — Serge Kemps, CEO of Nipro Medical Europe.

The power of entrepreneurial people

So, why did Nipro choose Flanders as the site for its EMEA headquarters and its first-ever iMEP center outside of Japan? “The excellent infrastructure and central location definitely helped seal the deal,” Serge explains. “But the people of Flanders were the main contributing factor. Flanders’ workforce is highly educated, speaks multiple languages and has a lot of knowhow – all crucial in the medical industry. Skilled employees working together with both distinguished universities and academic hospitals convinced Nipro to set up and expand activities in the region.”

But there’s more. Serge: “The entrepreneurial spirit reigns supreme in Flanders, and we want to encourage it in our employees by offering young professionals stimulating projects and responsibilities early in their careers. This approach is highly appreciated by our Japanese parent company, and our track record has proven that it works.”

“Talented people and high-ranking universities were the deciding factor in Nipro’s choice of Flanders as an investment location. These in addition to the entrepreneurial spirit of the region are what made Flanders stand out.” — Serge Kemps, CEO of Nipro Medical Europe.

Developing a new cell therapy division

The recently built iMEP center is not the only exciting development at Nipro. “We are currently setting up a new cell therapy pillar in addition to our existing medical devices, pharma and pharma packaging divisions,” Serge explains. “The therapy is now in the final stages of the clinical approval phase in Japan. Once we get the green light there, Europe is the next stop – with Flanders serving as our European base.”

“The whole project is a medical revolution,” Serge adds. “To put it simply, using our new technique, we extract stem cells from a paralyzed patient, modify and reinject them to improve the patient’s situation. In some test cases, we were even able to help them walk again.”

Pioneering contributions such as these are also the reason why Serge hopes Nipro will win FIT’s 2019 Foreign Investment of the Year Trophy: “We want to help improve lives all over the world, and Flanders is an important enabler in this mission. To pull it off, we need the brightest minds, which is something our recent investment in Flanders helps us achieve. In short, let’s save lives together, one medical breakthrough at a time!”