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Latest UpdatesMiyagi: Invest Miyagi Seminar in Tokyo - Emphasizing the accumulation of young and excellent talent and the promotion of open innovation

Jun 19, 2019

In December 2018, Miyagi Prefecture held the “Invest Miyagi Seminar” in Tokyo. The event introduced the attractive investment environment of the prefecture, with elements such as intellectual resources like Tohoku University, easy access from Tokyo and low initial costs for setting up business. Speeches were delivered by the president of Philips Japan, which decided to establish an R&D base in the prefecture, and representatives of Tohoku University, which is partnered with the company, and calls were made for the creation of innovation through business collaboration.

Miyagi Prefecture actively works to attract foreign business

At the beginning of the seminar, Miyagi Governor Yoshihiro Murai announced that the prefecture will formulate its fourth term international strategic plan and actively work to attract foreign businesses toward achieving a gross prefectural product of 10 trillion yen at an early date and aiding the region’s recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake. Mr. Murai stated that the prefecture will actively work to draw R&D facilities, offices and plants of foreign companies, particularly those from Europe and North America, through dissemination of information on incentives granted by the prefecture and the advantages of its concentration of industries and R&D centers, as well as by developing an environment in which foreigners can easily reside. “When a company sets up business in Miyagi Prefecture, I promise that the prefecture and relevant municipalities will work together to provide necessary support,” the governor emphasized.

Miyagi Governor Yoshihiro Murai

Miyagi focuses on attracting manufacturing companies and R&D institutions in eight key areas, including information technology (IT), automobiles and medicine and health. In 2018, the prefecture applied for participation in the “Support Program for Regional Foreign Direct Investment in Japan,” under which the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) provide comprehensive support for local authorities that make efforts to attract foreign-based companies to their regions ahead of others in Japan, and their application was approved. In fiscal 2018, the prefecture narrowed down the scope of foreign and foreign-funded companies suitable for its business environment and collected information by making use of the program.

[Reference]
The City of Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture is trying to attract companies through implementing the Business Location Promotion Subsidy Program, aimed mainly at IT-related industries and R&D facilities. It also puts effort into creating an environment to support startups by foreign entrepreneurs by granting them a special residence status under the “Projects for Encouraging Foreign Entrepreneurs to Start Business” (also referred to as a “startup visa”).

Philips sets up an innovation R&D center in the prefecture

Hiroyuki Tsutsumi, President and CEO of Philips Japan, Ltd., took the podium during the seminar. The global medical equipment company set up the Philips Co-Creation Center in Sendai in March 2019, which is the company’s first innovation R&D center in Japan. It plans to use the new facility to promote co-creation (creation of innovation through business cooperation and collaboration) with various organizations; including universities, medical institutions, companies and municipalities; so that it can create new value in the fields of health, prevention and medicine through the digital revolution. In June 2018, Philips Japan signed a partnership agreement with Tohoku University to perform joint research on issues such as health management methods utilizing information and communications technology. Through this effort, Philips Japan has already begun contributing to co-creation.

In his speech, Mr. Tsutsumi spoke about future prospects, saying, “The Tohoku region was hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake, and the challenges it is facing are especially serious among Japan’s regions, such as the declining birthrate and aging society, lack of medical workers and ballooning medical expenses. At the same time, however, the region can proactively lead in instigating social change. We at the Philips Co-Creation Center would like to engage in co-creation with various organizations; including Miyagi Prefecture, the City of Sendai and Tohoku University, so that we can introduce change to the world, such reduced costs of advanced medical care, originating from Miyagi and the Tohoku region.”

Philips Japan President and CEO Hiroyuki Tsutsumi

Calling for open innovation and joint research with Tohoku University

Hitoshi Sato, Planning Director of Enterprise Partnerships at Tohoku University, introduced activities of the university, including industry-academia-government collaboration projects, research in the fields of medicine and nursing care and support for venture companies. “The Tohoku region and Miyagi Prefecture face numerous social issues, but there are many seeds for solutions. We would like to promote business collaboration in the region with other organizations to create new things,” Mr. Sato said, calling for partnerships with Tohoku University.

Tohoku University Associate Professor Masanori Muroyama also presented. Mr. Muroyama received the NEDO Award in Tohoku University’s business plan contest “Tech Open 2018” for the utilization of his research results on a touch+α sensor platform for AI. This was followed by a speech by Tohoku University lecturer Shigeki Moriguchi, who succeeded in scientifically proving the “brain diabetes hypothesis” for Alzheimer’s disease and won first place at Tech Open 2018 for the utilization of his research results in his “Alzheimer’s Disease Drug Discovery Project.” He is expected to develop new medication for the disease. The two presented on their respective research results, while encouraging companies to utilize Tohoku University as a joint research partner (Figure 1) and emphasizing that open innovation is necessary for the further deepening of their research and lucrative business opportunities.

(Figure 1) Industry-academia collaboration projects at universities and other institutions in 2014
The amount of money spent to accept joint researchers from private companies(Unit:Thousand yen)
Rank University the amount accepted
No.1 Tokyo Univ. 4,840,830
No.2 Kyoto Univ. 4,792,490
No.3 Osaka Univ. 3,215,597
No.4 Tohoku Univ. 2,743,606
No.5 Kyushu Univ. 1,901,041

Source: Sendai City Business Expansion GuideExternal site: a new window will open.

Universities that saw a large increase in the number of joint research projects from the previous year
Rank University increase in the number
No.1 Tohoku Univ. 75
No.2 Keio Univ. 71
No.3 Osaka City Univ. 52
No.4 Kyushu Univ. 49
No.4 Kobe Univ. 49
No.4 Yamagata Univ. 49

Source: Sendai City Business Expansion GuideExternal site: a new window will open.

Approximately 70 people participated in the seminar. In the networking session that followed, many participants enthusiastically asked Miyagi Prefectural government officials about the prefecture’s business environment and presenters from Philips Japan and Tohoku University about their business situations, details of their research and other aspects related to collaboration.

Excellent and young talent, good accessibility and low initial costs are also attractions

Miyagi Prefecture, especially the City of Sendai, is home to many higher education institutions like Tohoku University that have produced various research results in cutting-edge fields. Numerous students and young people from within and outside Japan also come to the region to acquire professional knowledge and learn about advanced technologies. For this reason, the percentage of the population in their 20s and 30s is high compared with that in other cities across Japan (Figure 2), making Sendai an energetic city.

(Figure 2)

The percentage of population in their 20s and 30s by city Sendai 27.1% 275,026 peoples, Sapporo 23.6%, Kobe 22.3%, Hiroshima 23.4%, Fukuoka 27.1% The Sendai metropolitan area is among Japan’s five urban areas with highest percentage of the population in their 20s and 30s.

Source: Sendai City Business Expansion GuideExternal site: a new window will open.(March 2017)
Note: Created by Sendai City based on the basic resident register by age and city

In addition, it takes approximately 90 minutes to travel from Tokyo to Sendai via the Tohoku Shinkansen train, and Sendai is easily accessible from other cities in Japan and across Asia.
Office buildings in Sendai are concentrated in areas around Sendai Station, which have good access to and from the Tohoku Shinkansen train and subways. Thus, setting up business in Sendai allows companies to enjoy both good convenience and lower rent compared with the Greater Tokyo Area (Figure 3).

Inquiries about entry, investment and setting up businesses in Miyagi Prefecture

International Affairs Division, Miyagi Prefectural Government
Tel: 022-211-2276, Fax: 022-268-4639, E-mail: koryu@pref.miyagi.lg.jp
JETRO Sendai
Tel: 022-223-7484, Fax: 022-262-6230, E-mail: SEN@jetro.go.jp

(Written by JETRO, Invest Japan Division)