Zipline in Japan: New partnership with Toyota tsusho

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A new strategic partnership between Toyota Tsusho and Zipline in Japan will enable nation-scale, on-demand drone delivery of critical medical supplies.

Toyota Tsusho Corporation (Toyota Tsusho) is one of Japan’s general trading companies and a member of the Toyota Group.  The partnership with Zipline in Japan will bring medical drone delivery to communities across Japan, even in the most remote areas of the country.

The partnership is not a new one: Toyota Tsusho invested in Zipline in 2018 as part of the company’s NEXT Technology strategy intended to support new innovation in mobility. In addition, Toyota Tsusho and Zipline have partnered in Ghana, where Zipline delivers medical products from Gokals-Laborex Limited, Toyota Tsusho Group’s pharmaceutical distributor, to hospitals across the country.

Zipline recently began drone delivery of COVID-19 vaccines across Ghana, following widescale implementation of medical drone delivery in Rwanda and ground-breaking drone delivery projects in the U.S.  “Zipline’s drones have flown more than 5 million autonomous miles to deliver more than 1.5 million doses of vaccines, units of blood, and critical and life-saving medications to more than 2,500 health facilities serving more than 25 million people,” says the company announcement.  This new partnership puts Zipline in Japan for the first time.

“We first invested in Zipline three years ago because we strongly believe their technology has the power to reimagine how health systems deliver care to people around the world,” said Masato Yamanami, CEO for Automotive Division of Toyota Tsusho. “Zipline’s model has proven systematic impact, and we are thrilled to bring that same innovation to support the communities of Japan.”

“Our mission at Zipline is to provide every human on earth with instant access to vital medical supplies. This partnership with Toyota Tsusho is the first step in delivering on that promise for the more than 120 million people in Japan,” said Keller Rinaudo, co-founder and CEO of Zipline. “We live in a time where equal access to medicine has never been more urgent and imperative, and our two teams share a commitment to finding new ways to help solve the problem.”

Zipline in JapanThe partnership is also the first time that Zipline will hand over management of a Zipline distribution center to a partner – something the company says “represents a new model for scaling its on-demand delivery service.”

Toyota Tsusho will manage its own distribution center powered by Zipline’s aircraft and logistics technology to distribute supplies on demand across a network of healthcare providers. As part of its partnership with Zipline, Toyota Tsusho will also develop first-hand drone logistics operations expertise, building on its experience in the global automotive industry as a Toyota Group company and operational excellence in Japan.


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Written by Miriam McNabb


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