Toshiba moves MR plant to Japan

August 2, 2000

Toshiba America Medical Systems executives said the company’s decision to move MR manufacturing out of South San Francisco to Japan will enable the company to form partnerships with top U.S. clinical research universities for designing CT,

Toshiba America Medical Systems executives said the company’s decision to move MR manufacturing out of South San Francisco to Japan will enable the company to form partnerships with top U.S. clinical research universities for designing CT, ultrasound, x-ray, and other modalities.

Moving MR means Toshiba’s manufacturing—for MR, CT, x-ray, ultrasound—will be in Japan, while the company’s modality research is concentrated in the U.S.

“We want to look at the delivery of healthcare today and tomorrow and match those development needs across all our modalities. We will be targeting leading teaching universities across the U.S: the minds in the industry who are noted for publishing peer-reviewed papers and journals,”said John Zimmer, vice president of Toshiba America Medical Systems.

Zimmer declined to name which universities his company hopes to work with, but he said Toshiba has had plans to accelerate research collaborations for the last few years.

The South San Francisco center will be the base for Toshiba’s medical research and development, said Hiromitsu Igarashi, Toshiba’s president. The company will use its existing building but may expand the site in the future. The center’s chief scientist will be David Kramer, who joined the TAMS MR unit in 1986. Kramer has been an adjunct associate professor of physics within the radiology department at the University of California, San Francisco.

In addition to MR systems, Toshiba’s medical imaging equipment includes the Aquilion and Asteion CT units, PowerVision ultrasound devices, Efficiency 450D and Alliance 1000 x-ray systems, and EPS Plus digital processing system.

Toshiba already has successful partnerships with companies that create software for these existing systems, Zimmer said. Company officials hope the new research and development center will expand these relationships.

Zimmer added that Toshiba has been planning to shift its U.S. focus to research for a few years. The decision to make the move now was spurred by healthy sales and growth in the company.

“We are at the point now where we need to take the next step. It’s another way to reaffirm our long-term commitment to the U.S. market,” he said.

The move doesn’t mean that Toshiba is de-emphasizing MR manufacturing and engineering. The company will consolidate these operations, currently located in South San Francisco, into Toshiba’s manufacturing and engineering operations in Nasu, Japan. There is also a research and development center in Japan.

An engineering team in Japan will add new technology to Toshiba’s Opart open MR system. Zimmer said the new version will sell for $650,000 to $1 million. About 250 of the currently available units have been placed in hospitals and clinics across the U.S. Toshiba’s other MR system is the ExcelArt.

About 40 people will be added to the research and development center in South San Francisco, while 140 people will either be laid off or absorbed within TAMS.

At the same time Toshiba made the announcement about the new center, the company established a direct sales and service plan to cover Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Toshiba’s dealer, X-Ray Inc., had previously covered the territory.

Robert Kreps, vice president of sales, said this agreement will help Toshiba establish relationships with teaching hospitals on the East Coast.