BBA 2022 Winner Profile: Digi-Tech Innovation – AstraZeneca

Written by Sterling Content
December 9, 2022


Written by Sterling Content
December 9, 2022

AstraZeneca K.K. (AZKK) has scooped a British Business Award (BBA) at the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan’s November 2 gala celebrating UK–Japan relations.

The pharmaceutical firm claimed victory over five contenders in the category of Digi-Tech Innovation for its signature platform i2.JP, which drives industry collaboration for greater digital use in healthcare, as well as for strategic partnerships with technology-driven companies and utilisation of new media.

The panel of distinguished judges from the fields of business, academia, government, media and sport also recognised AZKK for adopting technology to drive net zero emissions initiatives and advocate for greater sustainability in the industry and beyond.

Under its Japan Vision 2025, AZKK aspires to be “the No. 1 pioneer in transforming patients’ lives through innovation.” The firm, therefore, is working and partnering to develop digitised solutions to accelerate effectiveness and efficiency in care,  as well as an integrated portfolio of digital applications to improve access to user-friendly information resources in multiple disease areas to support patients as well as their families and caregivers.



AZKK’s signature initiative is called i2.JP, an open innovation hub to connect healthcare professionals, local governments, academic institutions and private companies. Through this collaboration,  members can together activate greater digital innovation, thereby achieving more practical and efficient solutions in healthcare. To date, 280 partners have joined the hub.



In partnership with pharmacy chain Sugi Yakkyoku and its healthcare app SugiSapo Walk, AZKK promotes awareness of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a group of diseases including emphysema and chronic bronchitis that cause airflow blockage and breathing-related problems.

The project’s goal is to reduce the number of patients who develop this preventable disease by encouraging individuals at risk and their families to change their behaviour. They are invited to use a pedometer app on their mobile phone to increase their levels of physical activity, to seek access to information to prevent COPD or diagnose it earlier and to consult a physician about any health concerns.

So far, the project has reached an estimated 330,000 people. Of that number, some 260,000 people responded to a questionnaire and 140,000 people took part in walk rallies.


Apps utilization

AZKK created an account called on the Line messaging app for parents of premature infants. The app provides users with information including options that help to prevent respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection in infants.

More than 3,000 people registered for the account within the first six months of its setup, which had increased to 5,000 registrations by the end of November. Promoting awareness of the disease and measures to prevent it on social media platforms provided information to more than 200,000 parents with infants under the age of two during the first week of the campaign.

The firm also established a Line account to provide patients facing ovarian cancer and breast cancer with an information resource. The initiative is designed to reduce the burden of information-gathering for these patients and their families and is utilised by an estimated  5,000 people.

Meanwhile, AZ’s Unify app provides clinical trial participants with support, such as reminders for tasks required to complete the trial and information about the disease area. In the longer term, AZKK aims to gather remotely 70% of the clinical trial data required by AZ worldwide for the Unify app, thereby reducing patients’ hospital visits by up to 40%.


Green energy and greater workplace

By introducing solar panels at its plant in Maihara Shiga Prefecture, AZKK is moving further towards its goal of net-zero emissions in its operations. The company uses 100% renewable energy and remains committed to adopting the latest technologies to achieve carbon negative emissions in its value chain. Work also continues to accelerate advocacy and strengthen alliances with various partners, to show the public that a net-zero society is achievable if companies innovate together.

In human resources, AZKK has implemented innovative solutions to create a flexible and efficient workplace that helps employees fulfil their potential while accommodating their needs. Moreover, with the elimination of all sales branches across Japan, the firm has established a fully remote sales force. Its virtual office, oVice, enables employees to be connected to one another, thereby maintaining their sense of belonging to the workplace.


Looking ahead

AZKK plans to continue innovating and investing to accelerate its leadership by developing further digital tools to help patients and their families access healthcare resources. The firm will also enhance its capabilities to offer appropriate and timely medical information to healthcare professionals digitally, and enable further networking and knowledge-sharing among them.

The firm aims to advocate for the introduction of new technologies in the pharmaceutical industry, including in manufacturing, and will drive customer- and patient-centric business models by building on its capabilities in data accumulation and AI utilisation.

Specifically, AZKK will continue to drive i2JP, accelerating collaborative innovation to generate solutions that advance healthcare efficiency and efficacy through connecting data, patients and healthcare professionals.


BBA glow

Reflecting on picking up the coveted accolade, Takafumi Horii, representative director and president of AZKK, said the BBA “renews our enthusiasm to further enhance our science, as we continually strive for better clinical outcomes based on our patient-centric commitment and drive innovation by embedding digital technologies in our work.

“Winning a BBA is something everyone in AstraZeneca can take pride in, and it’s so exciting to be recognised as one of the companies impacting UK–Japan relations.”

As AZKK plans its future in digi-tech, the firm has “a unique opportunity to increase and embed the use of digital health solutions to help patients achieve better health outcomes and a better health experience,” he continued. “We are at the forefront of healthcare to establish an environment where digital tools can fulfil their potential to accelerate healthcare efficiency and improve people’s access to care.”