Regional Business Conference Program held in Ibaraki

February 2019

From February 19 to 20, JETRO jointly held the Regional Business Conference (RBC) in Ibaraki with the prefectural government and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, an event consisting of direct promotion by the governor and other leading figures and matching with local companies by inviting business people from overseas. With the attendance of 11 companies in fields related to life science from the UK, Sweden, France, Germany, the US and Taiwan, the advantages of Ibaraki, which is home to a concentration of advanced global research institutes, and the benefits of doing business in the prefecture were publicized.

Promotion of the advantages of Ibaraki Prefecture at RBC

On the first day of the seminar, Hideo Horie, Director General of the Department of Business Strategy at Ibaraki Prefecture, made opening remarks, followed by Takahisa Kinase, Director of the Global Strategy Team of the Department of Business Strategy at Ibaraki Prefecture, who introduced Ibaraki’s environment and support system which is particularly suited to research and development. Seigo Kanemaru, Director of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and the Head of the TIA Central Office, explained the open innovation platform of his institute located in the prefecture and joint experimental studies it conducts which meets the needs of companies. Following that, a pitch session was held by 11 invitee companies and nine local institutes and firms, allowed both sides to deepen mutual understanding.

Next, Hiroko Isoda, Professor of the University of Tsukuba Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, presented on the efforts her university has made in the bio field to the audience. Meanwhile, Ibaraki Governor Kazuhiko Oigawa promoted investment into his prefecture to the invitees directly by introducing merits such as its hub of researchers in Tsukuba and low cost of living.

At the networking reception, Parliamentary Vice-Minister Akimasa Ishikawa of METI and Mayor Tatsuo Igarashi of Tsukuba City joined Governor Oigawa in giving greetings. Parliamentary Vice-Minister Ishikawa made clear the Japanese government’s commitment to actively supporting FDI into Japan with local governments and JETRO. Mayor Igarashi promoted the advantages of Tsukuba as a science city. And, in his closing remarks, JETRO Executive Vice President Shigeki Maeda made a passionate call for invitees to do business in "Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan's most globally open research hub."


Greeting by JETRO Executive Vice President Maeda

Exchange with local firms and research institutes toward new collaboration

On the second day, at the business matching session, invitees introduced their companies and services to local firms and research institutes, followed by business meetings at their individual booths. A total of 38 business talks took place, including 28 between companies matched that day plus additional meetings set up beforehand. Praise from invitees included the following: "We learned that the Ibaraki R&D Association (IRDA) provides support which we can employ in our business." "We saw potential for joint development in telemedicine management." "We found companies with interest in our digital technology." Many hoped to keep in touch with the contacts they made through the matching opportunity.

The invitees split up into two groups for the prefecture tour, with one going to the AIST and the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) and the other to the University of Tsukuba Hospital.

At the AIST, they visited the Science Square, where technological achievements of the institute are on display such as micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) and micro-nano open innovation. At the NIMS, they saw private companies which were utilizing the organization’s open innovation facility and toured laboratories. At both locations, invitees listened with earnest to the explanations on research which seemed applicable to their own business.

At the University of Tsukuba Hospital, they toured facilities such as one for a driving simulator by the medical robotic suit HAL, the Center for Innovative Medicine and Engineering (CIEM) and the Tsukuba Human Tissue Biobank Center (THB). With comments from invitees such as "The bio-bank and robotics technologies were intriguing," and "The robotic suit HAL left a strong impression," the tour allowed invitees to deepen their understanding of the advanced R&D technologies in Ibaraki.

Business matching

Visiting AIST

Outline of RBC Program in Ibaraki

Date Tuesday, February 19 and Friday, February 20
Venue Ibaraki Prefecture
Organizers Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), Ibaraki Prefecture, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)
Invitees Total of 11 (three from the UK, one from Sweden, three from France, two from Germany, one from the US and one from Taiwan)
Program February 19: RBC Seminar, Direct promotion by Governor Oigawa, and networking
February 20: Business matching, prefecture tour (Course 1: AIST and NIMS; Course 2: University of Tsukuba Hospital)