JETRO Hosts Innovation Meetup for Japanese Corporations European headquarters

Nov 10, 2022


On October 14, JETRO co-hosted the "Innovation Meetup for Japanese Corporations in Europe" with Nitto Europe, which was attended by about 20 participants from Japanese corporations headquartered in Europe.


In the first half of the event, Mitsunobu Takemoto of Nitto Innovations took the stage to introduce examples of open innovation activities by Japanese companies overseas. In his speech, he explained Nitto Denko's business model "Sanshin Katsudo" (*), using examples of new products and new applications created from adhesive tape and the new demand created from them. He also mentioned the importance of deepening ties among Japanese companies with regard to their open innovation activities in Europe.


Mr. Takemoto introduces Nitto's activities. (photo by JETRO)

The second half of the panel session featured Naoki Kamimaeda of Global Brain, a Japanese venture capitalist who has been promoting startup investment in Europe, and Tomosaku Sohara of NordicNinja VC.


Regarding the characteristics of the European startup ecosystem, Mr. Kamimaeda introduced the overall trend as deep tech, fintech, and recently climate tech as the mainstream. As examples, he mentioned that the UK has strengths in artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, fintech, and life sciences, and Germany in insurtech, fintech, and AI.


Mr. Sohara introduced the Nordic and Baltic countries as being strong in digital as well as in decarbonization and the circular economy. He also noted that although Silicon Valley is large in the climate tech market, the Nordics are leading in terms of growth rate. He also noted that the Nordic region is characterized by the establishment of venture capital (VC) firms specializing in climate tech.


In terms of advice for Japanese corporations in promoting open innovation, Mr. Sohara pointed out that it is important for Japanese companies to strengthen their image of collaboration and to have a concrete hypothesis before meeting with companies. Mr. Kamimaeda agreed with Mr. Sohara, and added that the establishment of an appointed team to promote collaboration with startups, building expertise over a 5-10 year basis, and commitment from top management are also necessary.


In terms of finding European startups, Mr. Kamimaeda said that introductions through VCs and local accelerators are efficient, but at the same time, it is important to first seriously consider what kind of collaboration can be achieved with multiple companies in order to understand the startups on the ground. In terms of identifying startups, Mr. Sohara suggested talking directly to existing investors. He said it is a good way to learn about a company's approach to the market, its business expansion strategy, and how it has changed over the years.

Panel session about European startups: Mr. Yoshihiko Ito of JETRO's London office (left),

Mr. Kamimaeda of Global Brain (center), and Mr. Sohara of NordicNinja VC (right) (photo by JETRO).

* New manufacturing development, new application development, and new demand creation.