SoftBank forms AI healthcare JV in Japan with Tempus

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SoftBank’s Bold Bet on AI: A Joint Venture with Tempus for Personalized Medicine in Japan

Masayoshi Son, the founder of SoftBank Group, has once again made headlines with his ambitious vision for the future—this time, by forging a strategic partnership with Tempus, a leading health tech company using AI to revolutionize the way medicine is practiced. This joint venture, dubbed SB Tempus, signals SoftBank’s intention to aggressively invest in Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI), particularly in the burgeoning field of AI-powered personalized medicine.

The collaboration is not a sudden impulse; it stems from a deep-seated conviction that AI will significantly impact healthcare, particularly in Japan, where Son’s father succumbed to cancer last year, driving his personal passion for addressing the disease. Cancer remains a leading cause of death in Japan, and SoftBank is aiming to bolster the nation’s healthcare system with cutting-edge AI-driven solutions.

SoftBank’s prior investment in Tempus in April 2024, amounting to $200 million, set the stage for this formal partnership. This investment came shortly before Tempus’s successful debut on the Nasdaq stock exchange, where it initially sought a valuation exceeding $6 billion, albeit facing a market cap currently hovering around $4.5 billion.

Tempus, the brainchild of serial entrepreneur Eric Lefkofsky, was founded in 2015 with a mission to revolutionize cancer treatment using data. The company addresses a critical gap Lefkofsky identified during his wife’s breast cancer treatment, where the lack of comprehensive data hindered effective decision-making. Tempus, through its comprehensive data analysis platform, aims to bridge this gap by aggregating and analyzing a vast repository of genomic, clinical, pathological, and imaging data.

Tempus distinguishes itself from its competitors, such as Foundation Medicine and Guardant Health, by offering a holistic approach to data analysis. This comprehensive vision is reflected in SB Tempus’s ambition to provide genomic testing, data aggregation, analysis, and AI insights for personalized treatments, ultimately empowering healthcare professionals with data-driven insights to curate individual treatment plans.

SB Tempus will be initially focused on oncology, offering three medical services to hospitals in Japan within a year. The company plans to leverage AI to analyze comprehensive patient data, including genetic information, to determine the most effective treatment strategies. Recognizing the limited usage of genomic testing in Japan (estimated at only 1%), compared to the US (30%), Son emphasizes SB Tempus’s commitment to bridging this gap and achieving similar adoption rates in Japan.

This venture, with SoftBank and Tempus each owning a 50% stake, represents a significant investment, totaling 30 billion yen (approximately $188 million) and signifying SoftBank’s dedication to the success of SB Tempus. The company is poised to launch operations in August, embarking on a journey to revolutionize medicine in Japan.

The creation of SB Tempus signifies a paradigm shift in SoftBank’s global strategy, moving beyond initial investments in Vision Fund, which experienced losses in recent years. The company’s change in direction, characterized by a strategic shift toward a more conservative approach and a renewed focus on AI, is evident in their commitment to SB Tempus and their reported interest in investing in U.S.-based AI firm Perplexity AI, at a valuation of $3 billion.

SoftBank’s foray into the realm of AI-powered personalized medicine through its partnership with Tempus is a bold and strategic move. The company’s vision, backed by significant investment and a focus on building a robust data ecosystem, presents an exciting opportunity to improve cancer treatment and overall healthcare outcomes for patients in Japan. This venture holds the potential to transform the Japanese healthcare landscape by delivering personalized treatments through the power of AI.

Here are key takeaways from this article:

  • SoftBank and Tempus are joining forces to offer AI-powered personalized medical services in Japan, starting with oncology.
  • The partnership aims to address the limited usage of genomic testing in Japan by building a comprehensive data ecosystem and utilizing AI for personalized treatment insights.
  • This venture marks a strategic shift for SoftBank, indicating a renewed focus on investing in AI and utilizing it for societal benefit.
  • The collaboration is expected to significantly impact the Japanese healthcare landscape by improving cancer treatment and overall health outcomes.

Looking forward, the success of SB Tempus and its impact on the Japanese healthcare landscape will be closely observed as the company leverages the power of AI for patient-centric treatment. With SoftBank’s vast resources and Tempus’s data-driven medical expertise, this joint venture has the potential to revolutionize healthcare in Japan and beyond.

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Emily Johnson
Emily Johnson
Emily Johnson is a tech enthusiast with over a decade of experience in the industry. She has a knack for identifying the next big thing in startups and has reviewed countless internet products. Emily's deep insights and thorough analysis make her a trusted voice in the tech news arena.