R&D Cluster Programs Section



The R&D Cluster Programs Section supports developmental research projects that move discoveries made in OIST laboratories towards commercialization. We do this through a combination of support programs, lectures, mentoring, and training events in collaboration with other sections at TDIC.

What do we do? What do we provide?

1. Funding

Proof of Concept (POC) Program: which is an integrated program of support to help research units develop their patented technologies towards commercialization.

Technology Pioneer Fellowships: a program for talented researchers, recent graduates and other staff with entrepreneurial spirit and the motivation to develop a commercial idea. You can see profiles of Technology Pioneer Fellows below.

2. Lectures and training

We organize lectures by young scientists and engineers (like this one) who have chosen and entrepreneurial career. We also organize trainings to improve deeptech entrepreneurship skills, business planning and more. Watch this space for more information.

3. Mentoring

There is no one-size-fits-all, and so we offer customized mentoring with industry experts for members of our POC or Fellowship programs.

4. Innovation community

The 'OIST Innovators Society' connects students, post-docs, technicians, and research support staff interested in being part of the innovation community. The group meets regularly to discuss many topics related to innovation, entrepreneurship, industry careers, startups, and technology development. The meetings are informal and are open to anyone interested in cultivating their innovative and entrepreneurial spirit. Come and join us!

5. Want more? Let us know

Our offering changes from year to year as the needs of our fellows and project leads changes - if you feel there is something missing, or something that you would like to see us offer, please get in touch and we would be happy to discuss over coffee!

Section Members

Takanari Ichikawa, PhD  Senior Manager

Takanari manages the section and its overall activities. He is an experienced business development professional with a demonstrated history of working in universities and in the research industry. He Co-Founded Inplanta, a biotech startup, and he is also a graduate of the KSP Business Innovation School. Please get in touch with Takanari if you need advice about starting a research-based venture in Japan.



Andrea Pensado, PhD Technology Development Specialist

Andrea manages the POC Program and the Technology Pioneer Fellowships. She is also the project manager for the Technology Pioneer Fellows, where she provides hands-on help with program participants to transfer innovative ideas into commercial opportunities. Get in touch with Andrea for more information on the programs or if you want to explore the translational potential of your research. She has a background in pharmaceutical sciences but is always curious about any research project.


Kanayo Noda, Administrative Staff

Kanayo supports the administration of the R&D Cluster Programs team, including budget requests, procurement and invoicing. She also supports the section and our program participants through advice on managing the HEART system, liaising with other OIST administrative sections and general support.



Technology Pioneer Fellows

Our "Tech Pioneers" are researchers who are committed to developing commercial applications over 1-2 years. When they join the program they also become part of the R&D Cluster Programs team, and we work closely with them to help them succeed.

Cohort 2, 2021

Name: Shivani Sathish

Bio: I am originally from a small town called Ooty, in the south of India. I received my Bachelors of Technology in 2014, with a major in Genetic Engineering from SRM University, India. I joined the Micro/Bio/Nanofluidics Unit at OIST in 2015. I received a PhD degree for my dissertation: “Surface-based Microfluidic Systems for Enhanced Biomarker Detection.” My primary focus was to develop point-of-care disease diagnostic prototypes by combining bioanalytical and surface chemistry, microfluidics and chemical engineering. As a Technology Pioneer Fellow, I will further develop a functional point-of-care testing system to monitor kidney health.

Project: Modular, multiparametric point-of-care-testing (POCT) system for monitoring kidney health

Description: The goal of this fellowship is to develop a modular, ‘rapid and sensitive’ multiparametric point-of-care-testing (POCT) system that will allow regular monitoring of kidney biomarkers in small-medium sized clinics at low cost. Using one universal nanoplasmonic-microfluidic bioassay principle to detect protein-biomarker binding, the POCT system will be designed to perform two sets of tests sequentially:

(1) blood creatinine tests to quantify glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and

(2) urine albumin-creatinine tests to quantify albumin-creatinine ratio (ACR).

The goal is to allow clinicians to diagnose the extent of kidney damage in patients using the combined results of both tests at the clinic without the need of expensive and time-consuming traditional laboratory tests.

Name: Viktoras Lisicovas

Bio: I get a kick out of building complex things. I trained as a biochemist and molecular biologist at Jacobs University, Germany. For my undergraduate thesis, I have built a rearranged bacterial genome. I got my doctorate at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, under the supervision of Prof. Keshav M. Dani. Here I built a behavioral tracking platform for the nematode and later a 2-photon temporal focusing microscope. At the time I also tried my hand at designing medical devices. Now I am delighted to join Technology Pioneer Fellowship for an opportunity to build one more exciting thing, a startup.

Project: Novel laser atherectomy device

Description: Laser atherectomy is a safer alternative for treating blockage of blood vessels. However, a significant fraction of cases is challenging to treat with available devices. Our novel laser-based atherectomy technology offers a new generation solution for complex cases and reduced risk of complications.

Cohort 1, 2020

Name: David Simpson

Bio: I was first introduced to the field of Microbial Fuel Cells in 2010 at Edinburgh University, Scotland. I am most interested in how this type of technology can optimize the ways industrial by-products are managed, with more sustainable recovery of energy and reusable water from this plentiful and renewable resource. I hope to apply the knowledge I have gained from working in academia to help industry become more sustainable.


Project: Bio-Practical AppliCation Treatment Systems (Bio-PACTS)

Description: My project is focused on the creation of a reproduceable module reactor dedicated to treatment of organic wastewater and specifically designed for Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SME). My approach will bring together IP and know-how developed at OIST in the field of Microbial Fuel Cells (MFC) and Bio-Electrochemcial System (BES) technologies, and will rely on the involvement of our industry and governmental partners to create a viable commercial application. Having proven the technology at Technology Readiness level 7 and developed the business plan during 2021, I aim to attract partners and investors with the support of OIST.

Name: Paul Hsieh-Fu Tsai

Bio: I am a biomedical engineer by training with background in clinical laboratory science. My expertise is in microfluidic engineering and studying biointerface phenomena. Using microsystems, me and colleagues can manipulate microenvironments and study physical/chemical/biological topics that happen around us in day-to-day life. As a technology pioneer fellow, I devote myself to learn about entrepreneurship and work toward innovating biomedical research and working style from our know-hows in microsystems. 

Project: A compact AI cytoscope for label-free prediction and tracking of cell phenotype and behavior

Description: Based on the machine learning software for cell analysis developed out of Micro/Bio/Nanofluidics Unit, I am working to prove the concept of a time-saving solution to innovate the workflow in cell laboratories. I approach this by building a compact AI cytoscope empowered by machine learning for prediction/segmentation/tracking of cells in split of seconds and turn images into data that customers need and give freedom to customers.