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Tokyo is quick changing into the town of selection for international firms, SMEs and startups trying to increase funds, acquire a aggressive benefit or increase. They arrive for the town’s many benefits, which embody a rising enterprise capital base, world class infrastructure and an more and more international and extremely educated expertise pool.


Tokyo’s emergence as a hub of innovation is being acknowledged by business consultants like Startup Genome, a coverage advisory and analysis group with a deal with vanguard concepts and financial progress.

In 2019, the Startup Genome survey of innovation hubs ranked Tokyo within the high 12 rising facilities, a recognition of “these ecosystems that weren’t a part of the Prime 30 on the time however had the potential to be so sooner or later.”

By 2020, a 12 months after its first-ever look within the report, Tokyo made it into the Prime 30—the town was ranked 15th, with Chicago (14th) and Berlin (16th) as close by rivals.

Tokyo was recommended for its many high-value startups (these over $50 million and $1 billion), entry to startup funding (together with capital for younger startups), and high quality and exercise of the ecosystem (together with funding exercise of buyers).

The town additionally scored extremely in life sciences expertise and property—specifically the aggressive variety of STEM (science, know-how, engineering, and arithmetic) college students, graduates, graduate applications, and excessive quantity of patents.


Russian student-turned-entrepreneur Igor Voroshilov, middle, founding father of social media startup LikePay Photograph: KEN YOSHIZAWA

With a rising status as a fast-developing startup ecosystem, it’s not shocking that entrepreneurs from around the globe see Tokyo as their metropolis of option to launch an organization.

Russian student-turned-entrepreneur Igor Voroshilov, as an illustration, thought Tokyo was the right metropolis by which to launch his social media startup, known as LikePay. Why Tokyo?

“The very first thing is, I used to be finding out on the College of Tokyo, and I appreciated the town—I already felt snug, so I needed to do enterprise right here,” Voroshilov stated. “Secondly, we observed that in Tokyo there’s a massive ecosystem for startups, and a number of networking alternatives.”

If you happen to’re searching for one thing like enterprise capital, he defined, most of them in Japan have their headquarters in Tokyo. “And in comparison with Moscow, there are much more folks—you may actually really feel the power of the town, and the way dynamic it’s,” Voroshilov stated.

Launched in 2018, LikePay’s fundamental product is an app for customers to seek for venues, corresponding to bars and eating places, through a hashtag related to that individual venue.

When a consumer shares a picture from that venue, the “likes” they get from their very own “followers” may be tracked and redeemed as reductions at a companion venue, corresponding to a restaurant or bar.


However it’s not simply Tokyo’s fundraising alternatives, networking, and social dynamism that pulls founders from overseas. The town’s total security, world class ICT infrastructure, and want to deploy next-wave tech corresponding to AI, IoT, automation and robotics—to resolve social challenges—are enticing.

It was for all these causes, along with the town’s focus of high-value company companions, together with company enterprise capital and enterprise capital, that American startup founder Tania Coke determined to open an workplace within the metropolis.

Coke is the co-founder and CEO of Tellus You Care Inc., a B2B healthcare startup based in 2017. The startup has bases in San Francisco and Tokyo.

Tellus creates a wall-mounted, contactless machine that displays the actions and very important indicators (corresponding to coronary heart and respiratory charges) of an aged particular person in a room. This wealthy information permits carers and healthcare professionals to offer high quality care to sufferers or family members.


Kevin Hsu, left, a co-founder and chief know-how officer, and Tania Coke, a co-founder and CEO at Tellus You Care Inc Photograph: Courtesy of Tellus You Care Inc

Why did Coke select Tokyo, and extra typically Japan, to launch her firm?

“If you happen to comply with the getting older market, you’ll shortly see why we selected to go to market in Japan. It has to do with the inhabitants dynamics right here, the place near 30 % is 65 years of age or older—in comparison with round 15 % within the U.S.”

“So there was a transparent path to bringing the tech right here, a rustic that’s present process a severe social challenge—however one the place we will have a optimistic influence,” Coke defined.

Moreover, in Tokyo, Tellus was in a position not solely to seek out company enterprise capital and enterprise capital assist, but additionally firms with which they might companion for his or her first pilot tasks.


Japan has positioned next-wave tech and ICT infrastructure on the middle of its purpose to resolve societal challenges. That’s why, in 2016, the Japanese authorities launched Society 5.Zero as a core idea for the nation’s future growth.

And that features the Tokyo Metropolitan Authorities, which is rolling out initiatives that leverage the ability of digital and different next-wave know-how to reinforce the standard of lifetime of residents. For firms like Tellus, which deploys IoT and AI tech, this initiative has been a game-changer.

On the core of Society 5.Zero is a human-orientated society that strikes a stability between financial progress and social considerations, and deploys tech corresponding to AI/machine studying, IoT, massive information, cybersecurity, robotics, automation, fintech, business 4.Zero and digital transformation (DX).

To this finish, the Tokyo Metropolitan Authorities (TMG) is fostering an ecosystem in Tokyo the place open innovation can thrive.

Open innovation, on this case, means the nationwide and native governments working with academia, the company sector and society at massive to seek out options to urgent points, corresponding to getting older, low productiveness, and labor shortages.

Thus, fostering a world startup ecosystem in Tokyo—with stakeholders working in partnership—has been a key pillar of the TMG’s imaginative and prescient for innovation and entrepreneurship as summarized by Society 5.0.



To assist worldwide founders like Coke and Voroshilov, the nationwide authorities and the TMG launched the Tokyo One-Cease Enterprise Institution Heart (TOSBEC) in 2015.

TOSBEC is the primary bilingual middle in Japan the place founders from overseas or representatives of overseas-affiliated startups can converse face-to-face with consultants whose purpose is to assist them set up their firm in Tokyo.

Voroshilov, for instance, tapped into TOSBEC’s companies when he first had the concept of making LikePay. “It was round March 2018. I used to be at a ‘Tokyo Tech startup night time’ occasion, and there was employees from TOSBEC there who launched the group to international entrepreneurs.”

Shortly after assembly the TOSBEC consultant, Voroshilov crammed out a web-based reservation kind on their web site to make an appointment with a advisor on the middle.

“The session was for about two hours, and we managed to talk with somebody about immigration, firm registration, taxes, welfare, and articles of incorporation—I went to each sales space there,” he added.

After quite a few consultations at TOSBEC, Voroshilov stated, “It was very clear what I needed to do to begin an organization in Tokyo. They defined every thing, and it was very easy.”

Coke from Tellus additionally benefited from assist from the TMG: “They helped us early on in 2019—simply as we had been establishing in Japan—particularly with discovering pilot companions and with market analysis,” she recalled.


For Coke and Voroshilov, Tokyo’s startup ecosystem has been indispensable in realizing their startup goals. As of this writing, LikePay had secured two Japanese angel buyers and one early stage Japanese VC.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the corporate launched two new companies, together with a B2B service that analyzes the trustworthiness of influencers on platforms like Instagram.

Tellus, in the meantime, having raised early stage funding, expanded its employees, secured prospects to implement its product, and closed a brand new spherical of funding, together with with three Japanese VCs and through two home subsidy applications.

Coke, reflecting on the present COVID-19 disaster, stated: “I’m actually grateful to our buyers in Japan, as a result of they actually caught with us throughout this era, and noticed the significance of what we’re doing.”

For entrepreneurs like Coke, Tokyo, and extra typically Japan, is now a go-to ecosystem.

And with TMG initiatives like TOSBEC—and a slew of different tasks by the town to assist innovation and creativity, together with institution of accelerator and incubator applications—it’s straightforward to see why.

OMG is continually cementing what Social-First means, the way it positively transforms society over the long-term and most significantly, it have to be the business mannequin companies convert to. The ethics we reside by, form our values and tradition. We’ve got made nice strides due to the assist we obtain from the general public.



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