Japan is home to some of the most cutting-edge innovations in the world, having spent decades pioneering many feats across different industries including robotics, automobile, and hardware manufacturing, among many others. 

The country landed the 13th spot in the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s Global Innovation Index 2021, which evaluated 132 economies based on 81 indicators that measure their innovative capacity and output. This means that according to key factors, Japan is among the world’s most competitive players in terms of innovation.

In order to further embolden the country’s top innovators to take on the broader global stage and pursue growth on a much larger platform, the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) is spearheading initiatives that aim to guide and bolster Japanese startups towards greater growth.

Taking the world by storm

One of these JETRO-led initiatives poised to help Japanese startups reach ultimate success is the “Startup City Acceleration Program”, an online programme in partnership with the Cabinet Office of Japan that runs from October 2021 to March 2022.

In this programme, JETRO collaborates with six major accelerators to cultivate overall growth across the Japanese startup ecosystem, serving as an entry for some of the best Japanese startups to take on the global market. Through the programme, startups will receive first-hand mentorship, matching opportunities with foreign investors, and new business partnerships, among many other exciting opportunities.

Also read: Leave a Nest takes innovation from research to market

This year, JETRO selects 100 of the country’s top startups from innovation hubs across Japan. The organisation will support their global expansion by providing specific courses in specialised areas such as B2B, bio-healthcare, Climate/Cleantech, and University-based deep tech. Each course will be administered by a top accelerator that specialises in each area. 

An introductory boot camp followed by weeks of in-depth sessions will also culminate in a demo day where each startup gets to showcase what they have built in front of a global audience of investors.

The Founder Catalyst programme by top accelerator, Techstars

One of the key features of the event is The Founder Catalyst Programme to be led by Techstars. As a worldwide network that aims to help entrepreneurs grow and succeed, Techstars is one of the major accelerators working with JETRO for this project. Through the programme, the group has selected two cohorts consisting of 15 startups each for their Founders Catalyst programme.

“Today’s global environment has become a source of demand for new ideas and progress toward innovation across everything from healthcare to climate change, but at the same has restricted the collaboration and resources needed to propel promising innovations toward success,” said Maelle Gavet, chief executive officer at Techstars.

We’re thrilled for the opportunity to support these startup ecosystems and help entrepreneurs make the connections they need to advance their businesses,” added Gavet.

Techstars’ participation in JETRO’s Startup City Acceleration Programme is a major step as the group is known for being a rapidly-growing global investment and accelerator network that helps entrepreneurs across different aspects of business growth. Taking place from October 2021 to February 2022, the 18-week programme marks Techstars’ commitment to producing the best and the brightest startups powered with the most cutting edge innovations today. This commitment is further crystalised with the group’s partnership with JETRO and other reputable organisations such as the Japan Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI).

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Past Founder Catalyst programmes by Techstars have resulted in hundreds of business and investor connections, seeding countless relationships between participants and mentors. By providing introductions to world-class resources and education, Techstars has helped participants hone their skills, develop their ideas, and engage wider networks that have resulted in many business successes not only in Japan but across the world.

The tools, insights, and strategies offered by Techstars through its programmes and services are based on the experience of operating nearly 50 accelerators around the world, having invested in more than 2,500 companies to date. Collectively, the Techstars portfolio has raised more than $15.7 billion from investors and is worth more than $220 billion today.

The two cohorts under the Founder Catalyst Programme

With all the unique technologies and solutions available in the market, the Founder Catalyst Programme will be focusing on two cohorts: General Cohort and Cleantech Cohort.

The General Cohort will be sector agnostic and will feature a wide range of startups from various verticals and stages. This cohort will be run by Techstars and will include a variety of innovators such as retail platform Vox Japan, machine learning company Citadel AI inc., and sports tech provider RUN.EDGE Limited.

On the other hand, the Cleantech Cohort will be comprised of startups engaging in the verticals relating to Climate Tech, Cleantech, energy, green-tech, materials, and sustainability. This cohort will also be run by Techstars, who have been focusing on Cleantech and sustainability with their own new programme and initiatives. Some of the startups featured in this cohort are Aonbarr Inc., Fermenstation, and Welltree inc., all of which propose sustainability innovations in various industries.

Japan’s incredible history of innovation

“We believe that great ideas can come from anywhere and we are committed to driving greater diversity in the technology and investment sectors outside of Silicon Valley. Japan has an incredible history of innovation with strong potential for growth and transformation. The Startup City Accelerator Program will be one of the most innovative and interesting programs we have run to date, and we look forward to helping unlock its potential,” shared Gavet.

Also read: Finnoventure Fund 1: Helping the Thai startup ecosystem thrive through innovation

Techstars’ isn’t alone in this belief. Time and again, Japan has proven to be a force when it comes to creative and innovative developments. As the world gears for stronger and smarter solutions especially in the sustainability space, the role of Japanese startups is likely to experience increasing importance.

With all these exciting new innovations rendered by one of the world’s most competitive tech ecosystems, we can only expect great things from JETRO’s Startup City Acceleration Programme and Techstars’ The Founder Catalyst Programme working hand in hand to showcase the best of Japan to the rest of the world.

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This article is produced by the e27 team, sponsored by Techstars

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Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

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