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Driving Sustainable Global Growth
“Japan ranks third among countries with the most companies in the Forbes Global 2000, while Tokyo is home to the second-highest number of Fortune Global 500 firms of any city in the world. Yet when it comes to the number of unicorns, Tokyo is around 20th. Something doesn’t add up,” says MIYASAKA Manabu, vice governor and CIO of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG).
To help narrow that disparity, Tokyo is working to attract more international startups and make the city one of the most welcoming and nurturing locations on the planet for new ventures.
While Tokyo’s recent startup growth is encouraging, the TMG has ambitions to accelerate the sector’s expansion. Most of the increased health, safety, prosperity and convenience of modern life is the result of technological advances, and startups will continue to be a major driver of progress.
In November 2022, Tokyo launched its “Global Innovation with STARTUPS,” strategy, positioning startups as generators of innovation and “important partners in realizing the future.”
“In terms of concrete targets, the TMG is aiming to grow tenfold the number of unicorns, startups launched and public-private partnership projects in Tokyo over five years, especially startups looking to expand globally,” notes MIYASAKA, who adds that Tokyo is working to build closer connections with startups.
To realize this goal, the city is promoting a wide range of measures to help both domestic and global startups, based on four pillars: Making Tokyo the world’s most startup-friendly city; Foundation for everyone to achieve their dreams; “One-team” support from all stakeholders; and Strategic PR for the world.
One of the flagship initiatives of SusHi Tech Tokyo is City-Tech.Tokyo, an exposition at the Tokyo International Forum that will be held for the first time on Feb. 27 and 28, 2023.
The plan is to attract 10,000 participants from 100 cities and 30 countries, with 300 exhibitors showcasing cutting-edge technology and creating opportunities to network, share knowledge and do business.
As part of the event, the City-Tech Challenge contest will award a 10 million yen (approximately $76,000 based on the 2022 average rate) prize for the best startup pitch.
This category will feature startups demonstrating the best tech that can deliver infrastructure and mobility solutions to create secure, resilient cities where people and businesses can connect both digitally and physically.
South Korea’s Dareesoft will be at City-Tech.Tokyo with its award-winning RiaaS (road hazard information as a service) solution, which uses AI and big data to detect, analyze and deliver real-time information on road conditions and dangers to vehicles, and has potential applications in smart cities, autonomous driving and beyond.
“City-Tech.Tokyo will create opportunities for Dareesoft to connect to smart-city experts all around the world and collaborate with professionals on infrastructure management, mobility innovation and transportation technology,” says Elizabeth Row, Dareesoft’s Co-CEO.
Infrastructure x City-Tech
Environment x City-Tech
The environment segment is focused on solutions for a decarbonized, circular society realized through the transformation of energy and food systems, along with other aspects of the economy, via new technology and ventures.
Tokyo-based TBM, a unicorn whose cutting-edge LIMEX material is being used by thousands of companies, will be exhibiting at City-Tech.Tokyo. Manufactured from readily available limestone, LIMEX can be deployed in place of plastic and paper, significantly reducing the use of petroleum-based resins, wood and water, and cutting CO2 emissions.
In its early days, TBM enjoyed strong support—including subsidies, use of facilities and consulting—from the TMG, and it continues to receive support for some of its many international patent applications, explains YAMAGUCHI Taichi, the company’s chief strategy officer.
The Reuters news staff had no role in the production of this content. It was created by Reuters Plus, the brand marketing studio of Reuters.
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“TBM entered into a capital and business alliance of 13.5 billion yen [$102 million based on the 2022 average rate] with the SK Group, a major South Korean conglomerate, in July 2021, and is aiming to raise funds on a global scale,” says YAMAGUCHI.
Living x City-Tech
A showcase of startup tech, the living section spans fields from medicine and healthcare to finance, which support rich, vibrant and healthy urban lifestyles. This section will shine a light on everything from control of infectious diseases to regional digital currencies, and how they connect with environmental and quality-of-life issues.
Sweden’s Doconomy, together with its local partners, has developed a fintech climate solution that will be showcased at City-Tech.Tokyo in the form of a wallet app. The app enables consumers to track and reduce the carbon emissions created by their spending. Users can view their total monthly emissions broken down into key categories, track progress over time and take action to reduce their carbon footprint.
Japan Country Manager FUJII Nana says the TMG provided support, including legal and accounting advice, when Doconomy opened its first overseas office in Tokyo in March 2022.
The company has high expectations for City-Tech.Tokyo. “We hope to engage with other innovators around the technology needed to build sustainable societies,” says FUJII, “We also wish to engage in discussions with key players from Japanese companies and international startups in order to find synergies and opportunities for collaboration.”
Culture x City-Tech
Leveraging and enhancing the traditional culture of Tokyo through new technological creations such as the metaverse, NFTs, digital art and other innovations can enable startups to realize new entertainment and leisure possibilities. Many of these innovations will be on display at the event.
City-Tech.Tokyo will also host presentations and talks featuring leading global experts in fields including green finance, venture capital, entrepreneurship, biotech and architecture, and will offer networking opportunities and a range of side events. The TMG looks forward to welcoming participants from around the globe to participate in City-Tech.Tokyo, both virtually and in person.
The event is set to be a milestone in the efforts to make Japan’s capital city an environment where innovation can meet the challenges facing the world today.
“We need to create a flagship incubator space where we can support new startups,” says MIYASAKA. “In order to create startups that can go global, we need to work with accelerators and VCs that are doing business globally. Japanese startups must be connected with them from day one.”
Tokyo’s initiatives to boost sustainability and quality of life via technology are being brought together under the banner of SusHi Tech Tokyo (Sustainable High City Tech Tokyo). The concept is inspired by sushi—a culinary phenomenon that brings together a range of elements linked by artisanship.
“Approximately two-thirds of the startups that applied for booths are from overseas, which is very encouraging and shows how much interest there is in doing business in Tokyo,”
“In terms of ‘monozukuri’ [manufacturing prowess], a world-class ecosystem exists here; now is the time for Tokyo to create a tech startup ecosystem of that quality for the digital age,”
says MIYASAKA, a former CEO of Yahoo! Japan and SoftBank board member.
TOKYO - A CITY TACKLING
CRISIS HEAD ON
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Featuring groundbreaking startups from around the world, City-Tech.Tokyo will be centered on four main themes:
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On the importance of Tokyo as a market, Row adds, “Tokyo is one of the most advanced cities in the world and is committed to implementing innovative solutions to improve the quality of life for citizens of the city and travelers from other countries.”