Japan-Finland Gateway for Open Innovation Meetup in Helsinki

December 2018

On December 4, JETRO held the Japan-Finland Gateway for Open Innovation Meetup at the same time with the startup event Slush 2018 held in Helsinki, Finland. With presentations by major Japanese companies and local governments as well as an introduction of JETRO's services for assisting investment into Japan, JETRO communicated the allures of doing business in Japan toward approximately 100 local business people joining the seminar.

Hopes for creating innovation through collaboration between Finnish and Japanese companies

In his opening remarks, Director General Takumi Fujino of JETRO London touched on the "Joint Statement on a Strategic Partnership between Japan and the Republic of Finland as Gateways in Asia and Europe" in 2016, and emphasized the importance of deepening cooperation in a wide range of fields including trade and investment. He also expressed his hope for further expansion of economic exchange between the two countries which will both celebrate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2019.

Following that, three Japanese companies presented on the benefits of doing business in Japan toward Finnish companies from three perspectives: technological collaboration, cultivation of startups and sales support. Masami Sumiyoshi, Manager of Consulting Services in Hitachi Consulting, stated that his company is particularly focused on the fields of energy, urban development, finance and healthcare and introduced examples of collaboration with overseas fintech startups. Yuichiro Kawasaki, a director at MUFG Bank, introduced his company's latest efforts toward digital transformation, such as for customer services and voice authentication via smartphone apps utilizing AI. Presenting the program "MUFG Digital Accelerator" as an example, he expressed his group’s active stance in nurturing startups and working together with firms involved in fintech. Harumi Kawakami and Sid Wang, who are both from the Application Development Provider Section of GMO Cloud, touched on examples of successful collaboration with overseas companies and promoted the advantages of having a presence in Japan, saying that success in the Japanese market would lead to successful business development in Asia. They also gave tips on doing business in Japan based on their company's experience.


Promoting the advantages of local regions in Japan

After the company presentation session, three local authorities; Hokkaido Prefecture, Yokohama City and the Aichi-Nagoya International Business Access Center (I-BAC); took the podium to promote the advantages of local regions in Japan as investment destinations by individually presenting their respective activities for attracting overseas companies. Juha Saunavaara, Assistant Professor of the Arctic Research Center in Hokkaido University, stressed the geographical advantage of Hokkaido in setting up data centers and that his research center has also made efforts in attracting the ICT industry related to agriculture. Takeshi Tamai, Chief Representative of the City of Yokohama Frankfurt Representative Office, spoke on the concentration of research and development facilities of foreign-affiliated companies in his city and highlighted that there are open innovation platforms in fields such as IoT and life science. Lastly, Kyosuke Kawazoe, First Promotion Division Manager of I-BAC, promoted his region as a hub to industries including autonomous driving, aerospace and robotics and introduced its substantial infrastructure and incentive programs targeting foreign companies.

Following the local government presentations, Deputy Director-General Daisaku Yukita of JETRO London told the audience about business opportunities in Japan, explaining the Japanese government's deregulation program known as the “Regulatory Sandbox System” and JETRO's dedicated support for investment into Japan. In his closing remarks, Arto Pussinen, Director of Business Finland, illustrated activities of his organization, which helps Finnish companies expand business globally, and promoted his country as an important business hub for connecting Northern Europe and Asia.

At the networking reception, the local governments and JETRO set up consultation desks to respond to inquiries from participants. A pitch session was also held during the reception and Japanese startups which participated in the Japan Pavilion* at Slush 2018 drew the attention of participants by individually presenting their unique technologies and new ideas.

*Set up by JETRO's Innovation Promotion Division

Networking reception

PR booth by local governments

Outline of the seminar

Date and time Tuesday, December 4, 2018, 19:00 - 21:30(Networking reception: 20:10 - 21:30)
Venue Business Finland
Organizer JETRO
Co-organizer Business Finland, Embassy of Japan in Finland
Visitors 111 people
  1. Greeting by moderator
    Ayumi Ban, JETRO London
  2. Opening remarks
    Takumi Fujino, General Director, JETRO London
  3. Company presentations
    1. Masami Sumiyoshi, Manager, Consulting Services, Hitachi Consulting
    2. Yuichiro Kawasaki, Director, Head of Global Innovation Team, EMEA, Digital Transformation Division, MUFG Bank, Ltd.
    3. Harumi Kawakami, Business Development Specialist, Marketing & Operations Group, Application Development Provider Section, Solution Division, GMO Cloud KK
      Sid Wang, Technical Advisor, Technical Consulting Group, Application Development Provider Section, Solution Division, GMO Cloud KK
  4. Local government presentations
    1. Juha Saunavaara, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Social Science and Humanities Research Group, Arctic Research Center
    2. Takeshi Tamai, Chief Representative, City of Yokohama Frankfurt Representative Office
    3. Kyosuke Kawazoe, First Promotion Division Manager, Aichi-Nagoya International Business Access Center (I-BAC)
  5. JETRO presentation
    Daisaku Yukita, Deputy Director-General, JETRO London
  6. Closing remarks
    Arto Pussinen, Director, Business Finland
  7. Networking reception
    Consultation desks set up by Hokkaido Prefecture, Yokohama City, I-BAC, Kobe City and JETRO
    Pitch by six Japanese startups (CONNECTEC JAPAN Corporation, Empath Inc., GS Alliance Co., Ltd., Mobilous Inc., mui Lab, Inc., Yume Cloud Inc.)