The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

Kobe’s strong infrastructure for scientific and medical research has attracted many companies from around the world, inclu­ding Eli Lilly. The Indianapolis, IN-based pharmaceutical developer, which is a Corporate Sustaining Member of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ), set up its Japan headquarters in the city. To find out why, The ACCJ Journal interviewed Eli Lilly Japan K.K. Representative Director and President Patrik Jonsson, who also serves on the ACCJ Board of Governors as Governor–Kansai.

Why did Eli Lilly choose Kobe?
We have been supplying our medicines to people in Japan since the beginning of the 20th century. However, during the first 70 years, this was done mainly through our Osaka-based partner, Shionogi & Co., Ltd. When we established our own presence in Japan in 1965, it was natural for us to be close to them. At that time, Kansai was already home to many pharma­ceutical companies.

We are working in close partnership with the City of Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, and many other stakeholders. We believe it is good to be a big fish in a small pond, rather than the opposite. This helps us create an ecosystem that incentivizes innovation as well as a community that allows and encourages all to thrive—regardless of age, gender, or other characteristics—and to have a good work–life balance.

When deciding where to place our headquarters, it was critical in the final decision-making to take into account the community and the people who have allowed and enabled us to grow over the decades. With their support, we have become one of the 10 largest pharmaceutical companies in Japan. That is why we are staying in Kobe. This is where most of our employees and their families are based. Their lives are here, and so are our company roots and history.

What makes Kobe a great place to live?
The overall scenery—we are close to the ocean and the mountains—makes Kobe a wonderful place to live. The quality of life is recognized as being very good, and Kobe is also known for its good schools—including globally recognized international schools with high academic performance. And when you find that there is something you miss in Kobe, you are very close to one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas: Osaka. You can find more or less anything there.

How do you see Kobe’s business environment?
We view the future of Kobe very positively. We believe that, with the facilities of the Kobe Biomedical Innovation Cluster and several major innovative pharmaceutical companies in the area, we are well situated to maintain a leading position for partnership between industry–academia and public interests. Thus, we are both excited and curious to see what the future will bring.


Five advantages of investing in Kobe

1. Cutting-edge projects
Facilities and tech such as the Kobe Biomedical Innovation Cluster and the K computer, one of the world’s fastest super­­computers, lead the way.

2. Easy access
A strong infrastructure—including land, sea and air transport—offers huge advantages for businesses, logistics and lifestyle for expats.

3. Comfortable living
International schools, shopping, communities and more create an ideal living environment for employees of overseas corporations and families.

4. Support system
Preferential treatment and a support system for initial investment stages, such as subsidies for the rental of office space, help businesses succeed.

5. Global home
Many overseas firms already call Kobe home, creating a community that offers extensive business opportunities and global presence.

Invest in Kobe:

Christopher Bryan Jones is Editor-in-Chief of The ACCJ Journal. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, he has lived in Japan since 1997.