JETRO Global Connection -Accelerate Innovation with Japan-

JETRO co-hosted “Aim for the World with Deep Tech” to help Japanese startups make a dynamic leap forward

(Japan, France)
Aug 24, 2022

*This article was originally published in Japanese. All information in this article is as of June 15, 2022.

Hello Tomorrow JapanExternal site: a new window will open. together with JETRO held an event on June 2 called The “Aim for the World with Deep Tech” event, as a hybrid of real and online, was held on June 2 by in order to encourage Japanese deep tech* startups to expand their business beyond Japan. Various experts from major companies in Europe as well as from Japanese venture capitals and startups gave presentations on what the key points are to enable Japanese startups to expand their business overseas.

Key issues that are considered by major European companies and CVCs when determining whether to invest in startups

A major European company and a corporate venture capital (CVC) gave keynote lectures explaining what they look for in a startup based on the premise of investing in Japanese deep tech startups. Dr. Simon Maeschling of Bayer Crop ScienceExternal site: a new window will open., which develops agrichemicals and drugs for epidemic prevention, explained that when they are thinking of making an investment, they place importance on whether the startup’s business is compliant with their company’s strategies and whether the startup’s technology would bring about a breakthrough. Ms. Ellen of Solvay VenturesExternal site: a new window will open., an affiliate of a major Belgian chemical company called Solvay, said that when they make investments, they look into such aspects as the financial returns, the size of the investment, and the stage that the investment destination is at, but that they also place great importance in looking at whether the startup’s business is consistent with their company’s own business strategy.

The number-one issue in expanding overseas is to secure appropriate talents

A panel discussion was held attended by Mr. Hideki Nagasaka of the Innovation Platform for The University of Tokyo (UTokyo-IPC)External site: a new window will open. and Mr. Akitaka Wilhelm Fujii of Real Tech HoldingsExternal site: a new window will open., who are Japanese VCs that support deep tech startups. At this discussion, they mentioned the dangers of summarily talking about becoming “global” when seeking for the overseas deployment of non-verbal-based deep tech and stressed the importance of providing products that fit in with the characteristics of each area (cultural or religious backgrounds).

Also, many of the Japanese deep tech startups tend to only promote the outstanding aspects of their technologies; however, Mr. Fujii warns that they would fall into a trap if that is all that they focus on. Such startups need to simultaneously present their market strategies and demonstrate their strength as a team—and both Mr. Nagasaka and Mr. Fujii pointed out that Japanese startups lack suitable talents in these areas. Mr. Nagasaka said that in particular, there is a dire need for human resources who are something of a sales engineer, who have all the necessary expertise and experience to turn technologies into business.

Session with Mr. Asada of One Capital (Photo by JETRO)

panel discussion (Photo by LIFE.14)

Aim for the world by taking the opportunity of participating in a contest

Dr. Arnaud de la Tour, the CEO of Hello Tomorrow, informed Japanese startups that if they focus too much at the beginning on a specific country, such as on their own country, when it comes time to think about expanding abroad, they may find that the same product may not work in other countries. Therefore, they should develop their business strategy by thinking globally from the very beginning.

Every year, Hello Tomorrow hosts the Hello Tomorrow Global Summit in France. And one of the regional preliminary contests that are held before this Global Summit is the Hello Tomorrow Japan Challenge. Mr.Masataka Minami, the CEO of NuProteinExternal site: a new window will open., and Mr. Masaki Takeuchi, the Project Leader at SyrinxExternal site: a new window will open., both of whom won in the Japan Challenge in 2021 and who also attended the Global Summit, shared stories about how they prepared for the contest, the encounters they’ve had with various investors and companies, and the experiences they’ve had since the contest. They spoke of the importance of being fearless in taking active steps to promote yourself toward investors and companies. The information that they shared gave great insight for the participants.

Session with Mr. Asada of One Capital (Photo by JETRO)

Panel discussion with the winners of the Hello Tomorrow Japan Challenge in FY2021 (Photo by LIFE.14)

Applications for the Hello Tomorrow Japan Challenge in 2022 was accepted until June 30. Applications were submitted via the Hello Tomorrow Japan website.

*Deep tech refers to technologies that were researched and developed at universities, research institutions, companies and other organizations that are being used as a basis to dramatically change our lifestyles or to help solve major issues within our society.

Report by:
KATO Yuka, Innovation Promotion Department, JETRO

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