Invest Japan Seminar in Stockholm "Japan Day in Stockholm - 150 Years on"

October 2018

Cerebrating the 150th year of diplomatic relations between Sweden and Japan, on October 11, 2018 JETRO held an Invest Japan seminar in Stockholm, Sweden, under the title "Japan Day in Stockholm -150 Years On." The seminar was held at Epicenter Stockholm, which is known as an innovation hub in the capital city, and joined by approximately 60 people, mainly from local startups. JETRO called on visitors to seize business opportunities through collaboration with Japanese companies and to invest in Japan.

In his guest speech, Deputy Head of Mission Shinji Watanabe of the Embassy of Japan in Sweden mentioned the cordial relationship between Sweden and Japan, and stated that support activities for facilitating innovation through collaboration between the two countries would lead to economic development for both sides.

Japanese companies encourage local startups to do business with Japan

Three Japanese companies made presentations with the aim of finding overseas partners. Masami Sumiyoshi, Manager of Consulting Services at Hitachi Consulting, highlighted his company’s global network which could assist local startups in expanding sales channels in Japan and overseas as well as in seeking business partners. In addition, he explained that his company has been making efforts to create social innovation through technological collaboration, mentioning that Japan has taken notice of Swedish companies with cashless and blockchain technologies. He encouraged Swedish companies to collaborate with Japanese companies like his with overseas business sites and together expand business globally.

Akito Nozawa, Deputy Group Director of General Products of ICT and Financial Business at Itochu Europe PLC, had this to say: "We are focusing particularly on IT, healthtech, fintech and AI as investment fields. We would like to strengthen our existing business by developing new business models with partner companies." He also touched on Itochu Technology Ventures, his company's venture capital wing, and expressed enthusiasm to seek business partners and invest in Northern Europe, which is a hub for companies with innovative technologies and services. Communicating his desire for local companies to enter Japan in the future, he said “I hope that Japan will be the next business field for Swedish companies”

The venue filled with numerous participants

From NTT Data Corporation, a presentation was made by Kotaro Zamma, Head of the Open Innovation and Business Incubation Section, and Kazuya Okada, Senior Expert of Open Innovation Team of the Digital Strategy Promotion Department. Introducing the Open Innovation Contest organized by their company in Finland in February 2019, they promoted their company as a liaison between international startups and large Japanese companies. Regarding the Japanese business environment, they said "While entry to the Japanese market is difficult as it is already mature and competitive, you can therefore earn trust and anticipate continuous business expansion once you have entered it. Now is a very good time for starting business in Japan because various programs are offered for assisting overseas companies, as seen in the close support by JETRO and introduction of a regulatory sandbox system by the Japanese government.”

Business experience in Japan shared by Swedish companies

As case studies of Swedish companies operating in Japan, major communications company Ericsson and lithium ion battery manufacturer Northvolt AB shared their experiences from the perspective of a large company and a startup respectively.

Ericsson Japan was founded in 1985, and now owns business sites in Tokyo, Yokohama and Sendai. Its main clientele includes telecommunications companies such as Softbank, KDDI and NTT Group.

Melvin Jeffrey Chan, IoT Sales Engagement Director of Technology and Emerging Business for the Internet of Things at Ericsson, touched on the potential for creating new business models through the fifth generation wireless mobile standard (5G), saying that his company is focusing on introducing a 5G commercial system as well as IoT-related to self-driving systems. Based on his business experience in Japan, he also said, "The technological level of Japanese companies is extremely high. With the third largest economic scale in the world, the country is also economically and socially stable. For Swedish companies, collaboration with Japanese companies and entry to the Japanese market are good opportunities for growth."

Q&A session

Northvolt AB, a Swedish lithium ion battery manufacturer established in 2016 by former executives of Tesla, opened an office in Osaka in June 2017. Looking back over this period, Purchasing Director Luc Hovan, who has abundant experience in the country, said that his company had been eagerly hoping for cooperation with Japan, a pioneer country in lithium batteries, as it aimed to develop operations by riding on the wave of industrial needs for the new era, such as in the fields of automobiles, mining, agriculture and energy. Regarding advice for succeeding in Japan, he said, "Trust is the first priority. Forging a trustful relationship is the most important element. Tenacity is the second. You must repeatedly and tenaciously explain your proposals until both your bosses and your customers are satisfied. And never forget thoughtfulness toward the other party. In Japan, you can build a tremendous relationship once you have gained your partner’s understanding."

During the Q&A session, the speakers received numerous questions from local companies aspiring to establish a site in Japan and eager to hear directly from Japanese companies on topics such as secrets to success in the country.

Closing remarks were given by Marie Claire Maxwell, Head of Technology and Start-Up Lead for the Asia Pacific and Mikael Johansson, Senior Business Development Manager at Business Sweden, who stated that they hope to continue working with JETRO in assisting overseas business expansion by Swedish companies.

Networking reception

PR corner

Finally, in a call for the audience to utilize JETRO's support for expanding into Japan, General Director Takumi Fujino of JETRO London stated that Japan’s business environment is changing on a daily basis, citing the introduction of a regulatory sandbox system as one example of reform. In the networking reception, the Osaka Business and Investment Center (O-BIC), the Aichi-Nagoya International Business Access Center (I-BAC) and JETRO each set up a consultation desk and closely responded to inquiries from local companies interested in doing business in Japan.

Outline of seminar - Japan Day in Stockholm - 150 Years On

Date and time Thursday, October 11, 2018, 14:00 - 17:00 (networking reception: 16:00 to 17:00)
Venue Epicenter Stockholm
Organizer JETRO
Co-organizer Business Sweden
Supporting organization Embassy of Japan in Sweden
Number of participants
64 people
  1. Program    Greeting by moderator
    Takumi Fujino, General Director, JETRO London
  2. Opening remarks
    Shinji Watanabe, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Japan in Sweden
  3. Presentations by Japanese companies
    1. Masami Sumiyoshi, Manager, Consulting Services, Hitachi Consulting
    2. Akito Nozawa, Deputy Group Director, General Products, ICT & Financial Business, ITOCHU Europe PLC
    3. Kotaro Zamma, Head of Open Innovation and Business Incubation Section, NTT Data Corporation
  4. Coffee break
  5. Presentations by Swedish companies
    1. Melvin Jeffrey Chan, IoT Sales Engagement Director, Technology & Emerging Business Internet of Things, Ericsson
    2. Luc Hovan, Director of Purchasing, Northvolt AB
  6. Q&A session
  7. Closing remarks
    1. Marie Claire Maxwell, Head of Technology & Start-Up Lead Asia Pacific, Business Sweden
    2. Mikael Johansson, Senior Business Development Manager, Business Sweden
  8. Networking reception
    Consultation desks set up by O-BIC (Osaka), I-BAC (Nagoya, Aichi) and JETRO