The dynamics of what’s essential and what’s not has shifted dramatically in the past two years with a global health pandemic unleashing instabilities and uncertainties across the globe. While many parts of the world still continue to fight this health crisis and businesses navigate through the new normal to survive and sustain, one thing is certain—digitalisation and innovation are not a choice anymore; tech-enabled solutions and systems are the future for every sector.
In the past few decades, Japan’s tech startup scene has been making some strides but there is still a lot of scope for growth and development. Japan has only managed to produce three unicorns so far while the US boasts 239 and China 121. For the nation to realise its full potential in the new normal, strategic planning is needed.
Along with Tokyo and Osaka, Aichi prefecture is one of the three major metropolitan areas in the country, a bustling manufacturing centre and has the potential to be a startup hub. However, for the startup scene in Aichi to mature, key stakeholders need to come together and innovate.
As such, the government of Aichi has developed “Aichi Vision 2030” to help set directions for the prefecture to focus on in the crucial post-pandemic years of the coming decade.
Building Aichi into the next global startup festival hub
Large corporations in Japan are supporting the burgeoning startup scene, with 25 of the 44 companies ranked in Forbes Top 500 engaging with tech startups in one way or another. This engagement is increasingly characterised by corporate venture capital invested into new enterprises, and to keep the momentum going, the Aichi government plans to foster collaborations and partnerships.
The Aichi government envisions the realisation of a smart city with keen collaborations from all main stakeholders, such as entrepreneurs, startup founders, governments, corporates and citizens. Under the “Aichi Vision 2030” program, the government is keen on inviting collaborations from Japan, APAC and other parts of the world by leveraging digital connectivity.
Furthermore, the Aichi Prefectural Government in partnership with ICMG (Intellectual Capital Management Group), NUS Enterprise and e27, recently concluded the ‘Aichi Startup Festival 2021 with e27’ where startups and accelerators from across the region and beyond participated. Popular V-tuber “Kiminomiya” also participated in this three-day festival.
A one-of-its-kind startup festival to foster innovation
The ‘Aichi Startup Festival 2021 with e27’ is one-of-its-kind in that this is the only startup event that brings together the government, startup accelerators and digital content creators to co-create and collaborate for a more resilient and sustainable future.
This year’s festival had a team of experienced panelists, including the likes of Masaaki Shibayama, Director for Startup Promotion, Aichi Prefecture Department of Economy, Trade and Industry, NG Weiyi, Assistant Professor, Department of Strategy and Policy: NUS Business School: National University of Singapore, Thaddeus Jit Siong Koh, e27 Co-Founder & COO & CFO and Veerappan Swaminathan, Sustainable Living Lab Pte Ltd Founder & Director.
Sessions exploring the latest technologies like AI as well as discussions on topics like innovation and sustainability were held over a period of three days. The festival saw pitch submissions from 26 startups from Japan, Asia and other parts of the world. The festival provided all participating startups with a platform to connect with potential target consumers, venture capitalists and other interested parties.
The pitches were based on five core themes, including the following:
- Resilience and sustainability
- Creating a community where everyone can play an active role
- Strengthening industries through new innovations
- Creating an attractive region gathering from the world
- Education for global leaders who will lead the future and be active in the world and local communities
Based on the submissions, participating startups were evaluated by a panel of judges and winners were announced. The Aichi award winner list consisted of Arm, GINKAN, Qlue, Hishab and WFrontier whereas the startups that bagged the e27 award were Axelr8, AgreeBit, ELXR, Qlue and RevComm.
Sustainability as a central feature
With the right support from the government and keen participation of entrepreneurs, VCs and other stakeholders, Aichi has the potential to take Japan’s startup ecosystem to an altogether different level.
As businesses try to survive and sustain in what seems like a long-prevailing normal now, digital transformation and innovation for a sustainable future is not only mindful and good business but also what the future of the world depends on.
The Aichi Prefecture understands this at their heart and thus, hand-in-hand with their key partners, are working towards enabling tech startups in the region to come forward and collaborate to help create a sustainable future.
This article is produced by the e27 team, sponsored by ICMG
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