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Wakaze, bringing Japanese sake from Paris brewery, nabs $3M for Europe, US expansion

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See the original story in Japanese. Japanese sake brewing startup Wakaze announced on Wednesday that it has secured 330 million yen (about $3 million US) in a series A round. Participating investors in this round are Jafco Group (TSE:8595), Nissay Capital, Makuake (TSE:4479), and Makoto Capital. This follows a pre-series A round in June 2019 (which we reported as a series A round at the time). For Makuake, one of Japan’s leading crowdfunding platform, this follows their second investment followed by their previous investment in Tokyo-based chocolate direct-to-consumer startup Bace earlier this year. Wakaze aims to bring the wave of craft sake and D2C to the world of sake. Prior to founding the company back in 2016, CEO Takuma Inagawa studied at the École Centrale Paris as a French government scholarship student and then worked as a business strategy consultant at the Boston Consulting Group. In addition to developing new sake brewing recipes in Tokyo and Japan’s eastern prefecture of Yamagata, the company established a sake brewery called Kura Grand Paris in Suburban Paris back in November of 2019 to offer locally brewed Japanese sake for the French market. Since its launch in France back in February of 2020, the…

Wakaze sake bottles
Image credit: Wakaze

See the original story in Japanese.

Japanese sake brewing startup Wakaze announced on Wednesday that it has secured 330 million yen (about $3 million US) in a series A round. Participating investors in this round are Jafco Group (TSE:8595), Nissay Capital, Makuake (TSE:4479), and Makoto Capital. This follows a pre-series A round in June 2019 (which we reported as a series A round at the time). For Makuake, one of Japan’s leading crowdfunding platform, this follows their second investment followed by their previous investment in Tokyo-based chocolate direct-to-consumer startup Bace earlier this year.

Wakaze aims to bring the wave of craft sake and D2C to the world of sake. Prior to founding the company back in 2016, CEO Takuma Inagawa studied at the École Centrale Paris as a French government scholarship student and then worked as a business strategy consultant at the Boston Consulting Group. In addition to developing new sake brewing recipes in Tokyo and Japan’s eastern prefecture of Yamagata, the company established a sake brewery called Kura Grand Paris in Suburban Paris back in November of 2019 to offer locally brewed Japanese sake for the French market.

Wakaze CEO Takuma Inagawa
Image credit: Wakaze

Since its launch in France back in February of 2020, the sake brand had been distributed to 50 restaurants in the country but demand suddenly plummeted to almost zero due to the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, sales got back to growing steadily as they could rebrand their products to fit the demand for the direct-to-consumer model rather than offering through restaurants. The company has recently partnered with Nicolas, one of the largest wine store chain with 500 locations in France and 7 countries. The funding is expected to contribute to expanding production capacity to meet the increasing demand.

In an interview with Bridge, Inagawa told us how much French people loves the locally brewed Japanese sake brand,

In view of its local production for local consumption, Wakaze has succeeded to attract eco-conscious consumers at Nicolas. To meet the demand, we’ll increase our production capacity to about three times by fall. Our marketing strategy is working well, which grabs first-time customers with a variety of popular products and increases repeat customers with rare ones.

Sake brewing at Kura Grand Paris
Image credit: Wakaze

Going forward, Wakaze hopes to expand its sales and marketing area beyond France to the UK and Germany, as well as to the US where the company hopes to target early adopters and the Asian population on the West Coast. The company also plans to use the funds to strengthen hiring its human resources in both France and Japan, including sake brewers, marketers, customer support representatives, and business managers.

Among the investors in the latest round, Makoto Capital is focused on investing in startups and entrepreneurs from Japan’s northerneastern region of Tohoku. Headquartered there, Wakaze met Makoto Capital at the Sendai for Startups (SFS) startup event, which led to the latest funding. Makuake (then known as CyberAgent Crowdfunding) participated in SFS in 2017, and it is believed that Wakaze’s encounter with Makuake’s CEO Ryotaro Nakayama led to the subsequent launch of the crowdfunding campaign and the latest investment.

Japan crowdfunding site Makuake sets up shop in Korea, targets $13M+ in deals by mid-2022

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Japanese crowdfunding platform Makuake (TSE:4479) announced on Thursday that it has set up a subsidiary and an office in Korea as the first one outside its home turf. They expect to help Korean companies expand into the Japanese market by encouraging the latter to launch campaigns on the platform. They appointed their global team manager MiRyeong Kim as the head of a local subsidiary in Korea. Prior to Makuake, Kim finished her master’s degree in economics at Kyoto University and then participated in establishing an overseas subsidiary of CyberZ. She won the Newcomer Award at CyberAgent (TSE:4751), the former parent company of the crowdfunding platform. She contributed to founding the global team at Makuake, having been focused on curating overseas projects from Taiwan, Korea, and China. In 2017, Makuake partnered with the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) to help curate applicants for crowdfunding campaigns from Korea. Subsequently, the company partnered with Korean counterpart Wadiz to send campaign hosts to each other in 2018. It has helped about 600 projects from Korea including Bluetooth-compatible speaker table Mellow (securing about $219,000 through two campaigns) and laser rangefinder VH-80 (over $91,000). Makuake targets over $13 million in transacting crowdfunding campaigns from Korea by…

MiRyeong Kim, Head of Makuake Korea
Image credit: Makuake

Japanese crowdfunding platform Makuake (TSE:4479) announced on Thursday that it has set up a subsidiary and an office in Korea as the first one outside its home turf. They expect to help Korean companies expand into the Japanese market by encouraging the latter to launch campaigns on the platform. They appointed their global team manager MiRyeong Kim as the head of a local subsidiary in Korea.

Prior to Makuake, Kim finished her master’s degree in economics at Kyoto University and then participated in establishing an overseas subsidiary of CyberZ. She won the Newcomer Award at CyberAgent (TSE:4751), the former parent company of the crowdfunding platform. She contributed to founding the global team at Makuake, having been focused on curating overseas projects from Taiwan, Korea, and China.

In 2017, Makuake partnered with the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) to help curate applicants for crowdfunding campaigns from Korea. Subsequently, the company partnered with Korean counterpart Wadiz to send campaign hosts to each other in 2018. It has helped about 600 projects from Korea including Bluetooth-compatible speaker table Mellow (securing about $219,000 through two campaigns) and laser rangefinder VH-80 (over $91,000).

Makuake targets over $13 million in transacting crowdfunding campaigns from Korea by June next year. Earlier this year, the company partnered with US-based crowdfunding giant Indiegogo to help Japanese startups expand into the US and global markets.

Japanese public blockchain developer Stake Technologies secures $10M

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See the original story in Japanese. Stake Technologies, the leading developer of Made-in-Japan public blockchains such as Plasm Network and Shiden Network, announced today that it has secured 1.1 billion yen (about $10 million US) from Fenbushi Capital, Gumi Crypto, East Ventures, and other notable investors. Since its founding in 2019, the company has been conducting consistent research and development of public blockchains, having de and developing Japan’s first public blockchains, Plasm Network and Shiden Network. Japan lags far behind Europe, the U.S. and China in public blockchain, a technology that will be the foundation for the next generation of industry. However, the company has the potential to break through that status quo. The investors in this round include some of the global leading crypto and blockchain VCs from the US, China, and Europe, as well as several leading Japanese VCs and angels. From Japan, East Ventures, Gumi Crypto, Hotlink founder Yuki Uchiyama, Keio University economics professor Toyotaka Sakai, and former Sony chairman and CEO Nobuyuki Idei participated. The funds raised will be used for accelerating product development, hiring new talents as well as expending public blockchain ecosystem.

See the original story in Japanese.

Stake Technologies, the leading developer of Made-in-Japan public blockchains such as Plasm Network and Shiden Network, announced today that it has secured 1.1 billion yen (about $10 million US) from Fenbushi Capital, Gumi Crypto, East Ventures, and other notable investors.

Since its founding in 2019, the company has been conducting consistent research and development of public blockchains, having de and developing Japan’s first public blockchains, Plasm Network and Shiden Network. Japan lags far behind Europe, the U.S. and China in public blockchain, a technology that will be the foundation for the next generation of industry. However, the company has the potential to break through that status quo.

The investors in this round include some of the global leading crypto and blockchain VCs from the US, China, and Europe, as well as several leading Japanese VCs and angels. From Japan, East Ventures, Gumi Crypto, Hotlink founder Yuki Uchiyama, Keio University economics professor Toyotaka Sakai, and former Sony chairman and CEO Nobuyuki Idei participated.

The funds raised will be used for accelerating product development, hiring new talents as well as expending public blockchain ecosystem.

Parallel, Japan’s answer to Discord, secures $11M series B for global expansion

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Tokyo-based Parallel, the Japanese startup behind a voice chat app under the same name, announced today that it has secured 1.2 billion yen (about $11 million US) in a series B round. Participating investors are Jafco Group (TSE:8595), KDDI Open Innovation Fund, Anri, W ventures, and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital. The startup will use the funds to strengthen engineering and marketing teams. Founded in July of 2017 as its previous name of React, Parallel has secured a pre-series A and series A round without disclosing detailed terms to date. They launched the Parallel app back in August of 2019 which is so to speak the mobile-optimized version of Discord and targets mobile game users. It boasts a cumulative total of one million registered users and over 400 million minutes of total monthly talk time. When it comes to a voice chat app for gamers, many of our readers may recall Discord but their users had been forced to use a web browser that were not guaranteed to work properly until it launched an official mobile app about half a year ago. In addition, Discord has some problems such as difficulty in understanding the status of other users as well as inability…

Image credit: Parallel

Tokyo-based Parallel, the Japanese startup behind a voice chat app under the same name, announced today that it has secured 1.2 billion yen (about $11 million US) in a series B round. Participating investors are Jafco Group (TSE:8595), KDDI Open Innovation Fund, Anri, W ventures, and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital. The startup will use the funds to strengthen engineering and marketing teams.

Founded in July of 2017 as its previous name of React, Parallel has secured a pre-series A and series A round without disclosing detailed terms to date. They launched the Parallel app back in August of 2019 which is so to speak the mobile-optimized version of Discord and targets mobile game users. It boasts a cumulative total of one million registered users and over 400 million minutes of total monthly talk time.

Image credit: Parallel

When it comes to a voice chat app for gamers, many of our readers may recall Discord but their users had been forced to use a web browser that were not guaranteed to work properly until it launched an official mobile app about half a year ago. In addition, Discord has some problems such as difficulty in understanding the status of other users as well as inability to hear the game sound when talking with someone.

Parallel’s users have been mainly Generation Z and gamers, but the company plans to create a hangout space where users can enjoy content while sharing time with friends, family, and loved ones in everyday situations such as movies, live performances, listening to music, and shopping. In addition to the development of new functions, the company will also work on strategic alliances with entertainment companies and full-scale overseas expansion.

Japan’s Sagri secures $1.4M to roll out satellite-based solutions for farmers

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See the original story in Japanese. Sagri, the Japanese startup behind a satellite-based agricultural analytics platform under the same name, announced on Wednesday that it has secured 155 million yen (about $1.4 million US) in its latest round. This round is led by Real Tech Fund with participatioin from Minato Capital, Senshu Ikeda Capital, Hiroshima Venture Capital, and Hyogo Kobe Startup Fund (managed by Bonds Investment Group, Hyogo Prefecture, and Kobe City). This is the first investment for Hyogo Kobe Startup Fund. For Sagri, this follows their angel round securing funds from Hiroya Hanafusa (CEO of Alan Products) plus Glocalink back in January of 2019 and another round funding based on the J-KISS scheme back in April of 2010. The gap between their current capital amount and the size of the latest round allows us to estimate how much they have secured in the past rounds. The round stage is considered to be a seed round. Sagri gets soil conditions (corrosion content) using satellite data and updates on farm products and varieties from farmers to create a blockchain-powered database. Putting these altogether, the company tells farmers how to improve soil conditions from biological, chemical and physical viewpoints in addition to…

From left: CTO Takashi Tanaka, CEO Shunsuke Tsuboi, COO Shu Masuda, Real Tech Fund CEO Yukihiro Maru
Image credit: Sagri

See the original story in Japanese.

Sagri, the Japanese startup behind a satellite-based agricultural analytics platform under the same name, announced on Wednesday that it has secured 155 million yen (about $1.4 million US) in its latest round. This round is led by Real Tech Fund with participatioin from Minato Capital, Senshu Ikeda Capital, Hiroshima Venture Capital, and Hyogo Kobe Startup Fund (managed by Bonds Investment Group, Hyogo Prefecture, and Kobe City). This is the first investment for Hyogo Kobe Startup Fund.

For Sagri, this follows their angel round securing funds from Hiroya Hanafusa (CEO of Alan Products) plus Glocalink back in January of 2019 and another round funding based on the J-KISS scheme back in April of 2010. The gap between their current capital amount and the size of the latest round allows us to estimate how much they have secured in the past rounds. The round stage is considered to be a seed round.

CEO Tsuboi delivered a pitch at Demo Day of Rock Thailand 2nd batch in Bangkok in December of 2019.
Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

Sagri gets soil conditions (corrosion content) using satellite data and updates on farm products and varieties from farmers to create a blockchain-powered database. Putting these altogether, the company tells farmers how to improve soil conditions from biological, chemical and physical viewpoints in addition to offering them with accurate measurement to help farmers get more harvest. They have also developed a scoring scheme evaluating farmland by soil conditions data and macro data of corrosion content.

Conventional methods measuring nitrogen in soil were expensive while the company has succeeded in lowering the cost using satellite data. Focused on what, rice and sugar cane, the technology can give farmers harvest prediction and advise them how much fertilizer they should use. By sending all these insights to financial institutions, the company encourages them give loans to local farmers in India while the Japanese government leverages the technology to determine the status of fallow fields to see if then can resume cultivation.

Actaba
Image credit: Sagri

Inspired on their own service rolled out in India, the company has the Actaba platform to help detect abandoned fields. In Japan, local government officials keep visiting and checking their area to find abandoned fields. However, based on the wavelength data obtained from satellites, Sagri’s AI-based technology has improved to determine whether the land is abandoned or not with over 90 percent accuracy, leading to more efficient work. More than 10 city governments all across the country, including Tsukuba, Kobe, Nagoya, and Kaga, are planning to start demonstration tests within this year.

Another pillar of Sagri’s business is the AI polygon to curate and manage accuurate plots of farmlands. In Japan, plots are manually drawn on the lanp map provided by the Agricultural Ministry but inaccurate map data may cause danger for applications such as aerial fertilizer spraying by autonomous drone flight. The company is planning to accelerate its farming business by plotting farmland in various regions in Japan, India, and Thailand. It will use satellite data to obtain data such as carbon, nitrogen content and pH in farmlands, aiming to help improve the efficiency of fertilization process.

Sagri were qualified for the MUFG Digital Accelerator 4th Batch and the 500 Kobe 3rd Batch followed by attending the 2nd batch of Rock Thailand, a cross-border open innovation event organized by the Embassy of Japan in Thailand and CP Group, one of the largest conglomerate in Thailand.

DeepTech hub launched in Okinawa, offering over $4M to startups from around the globe

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The Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) and Beyond Next Ventures announced today that they have reached a partnership aiming to strengthen investments in and building an innovation ecosystem of DeepTech startups in Okinawa. Following the partnership, the two parties are launching the OIST-BNV Innovation Hub, or OBI-Hub for short. It aims to provide DeepTech startups from around the world with investment opportunities and other services to implement their innovations into society. OIST will provide technology, a network of industry experts, and on-campus incubation facilities, while BNV will provide funding and hands-on support for startups. Applications for joining the platform will be accepted online starting on June 1. OBI-Hub plans to invest up to 500 million yen ($4.6 million US) in qualified startups over the next two years. Founded back in 2016, BNV is a Tokyo-based VC firm focused on startups on life sciences and technology seeds. The firm runs the BRAVE acceleration program as well as the Beyond BioLAB TOKYO shared lab in Nihonbashi, Tokyo. OIST operates an on-campus accelerator and incubator called iSquare, also collaborating with the Okinawa Startup Program, a startup support program run by local enterprises in Okinawa. BNV joined the seed round of an…

The Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST)
Image credit: OIST

The Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) and Beyond Next Ventures announced today that they have reached a partnership aiming to strengthen investments in and building an innovation ecosystem of DeepTech startups in Okinawa. Following the partnership, the two parties are launching the OIST-BNV Innovation Hub, or OBI-Hub for short. It aims to provide DeepTech startups from around the world with investment opportunities and other services to implement their innovations into society.

OIST will provide technology, a network of industry experts, and on-campus incubation facilities, while BNV will provide funding and hands-on support for startups. Applications for joining the platform will be accepted online starting on June 1. OBI-Hub plans to invest up to 500 million yen ($4.6 million US) in qualified startups over the next two years.

Founded back in 2016, BNV is a Tokyo-based VC firm focused on startups on life sciences and technology seeds. The firm runs the BRAVE acceleration program as well as the Beyond BioLAB TOKYO shared lab in Nihonbashi, Tokyo. OIST operates an on-campus accelerator and incubator called iSquare, also collaborating with the Okinawa Startup Program, a startup support program run by local enterprises in Okinawa. BNV joined the seed round of an OIST startup EF Polymer last month.

HRTech startup SmartHR becomes Japan’s 6th unicorn after raising $110M+: Nikkei

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Nikkei reported on Friday Japanese HRTech startup SmartHR has secured about 12.5 billion yen (about $115 million US) in the latest series D round, which brought their valuation up to 170 billion yen ($1.6 billion US) and let them join the Unicorn Club. According to CB Insights, Japan has now five unicorns including Paidy joining the club earlier this year, and SmartHR will be the 6th unicorn for the country. Founded back in 2013 as Kufu, SmartHR automates procedures related to social insurance and unemployment insurance. It was developed to free up managers or human resources representatives from tiresome and time-consuming personnel management. According to the figures as far as we could add up the amounts of funding in the past, the company has apparently secured over $185 million US to date. See also: Japanese HRTech startup SmartHR secures $13M series B from Tokio Marine, Nissen Japan’s cloud-based personnel management tool SmartHR secures $5M from WiL, others Japan’s SmartHR, cloud-based personnel management platform, secures seed round

SmartHR Founder and CEO Shoji Miyata

Nikkei reported on Friday Japanese HRTech startup SmartHR has secured about 12.5 billion yen (about $115 million US) in the latest series D round, which brought their valuation up to 170 billion yen ($1.6 billion US) and let them join the Unicorn Club. According to CB Insights, Japan has now five unicorns including Paidy joining the club earlier this year, and SmartHR will be the 6th unicorn for the country.

Founded back in 2013 as Kufu, SmartHR automates procedures related to social insurance and unemployment insurance. It was developed to free up managers or human resources representatives from tiresome and time-consuming personnel management. According to the figures as far as we could add up the amounts of funding in the past, the company has apparently secured over $185 million US to date.

See also:

Secai Marche nabs $1.4M to extend food supply chain connecting farmers with F&B in Asia

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Tokyo- / Kuala Lumpur-based Secai Marche, the Japanese startup behind a shared food supply chain for the Southeast Asian market under the same name, announced on Tuesday that it has secured 150 million yen (about $1.4 million US) from Beyond Next Ventures and Rakuten Ventures. The company plans to use the funds to strengthen its fresh food fulfillment service, hire new talents, and enhance its marketing effort. Since its launch back in July of 2018, the company has been offering a cold supply chain connecting farmers and food producers with F&B businesses in the Southeast Asian market, especially optimized for the delivery of low-volume and high-mix orders. Supply chains for fresh produce in the region is usually operated by the supplier side, which are optimized for bulk deliveries and therefore difficult to use it for small restaurants which typically ask for small orders or niche needs. The company wants to solve the problem by building a shared supply chain allowing several different food suppliers to use for delivery. The company says more than 100 farmers and food producers in Japan and ASEAN as well as more than 300 restaurants and hotels are using the 20-month-old platform. In view of optimized…

The Secai Marche team
Image credit: Secai Marche

Tokyo- / Kuala Lumpur-based Secai Marche, the Japanese startup behind a shared food supply chain for the Southeast Asian market under the same name, announced on Tuesday that it has secured 150 million yen (about $1.4 million US) from Beyond Next Ventures and Rakuten Ventures. The company plans to use the funds to strengthen its fresh food fulfillment service, hire new talents, and enhance its marketing effort.

Since its launch back in July of 2018, the company has been offering a cold supply chain connecting farmers and food producers with F&B businesses in the Southeast Asian market, especially optimized for the delivery of low-volume and high-mix orders.

Supply chains for fresh produce in the region is usually operated by the supplier side, which are optimized for bulk deliveries and therefore difficult to use it for small restaurants which typically ask for small orders or niche needs. The company wants to solve the problem by building a shared supply chain allowing several different food suppliers to use for delivery.

The company says more than 100 farmers and food producers in Japan and ASEAN as well as more than 300 restaurants and hotels are using the 20-month-old platform.

In view of optimized fresh food supply chain startups in the region, Thailand’s Freshket raised US$3 million in a Series A round last year, Y Combinator Alumni Eden Farm from Indonesia won a pre-Series A round in March this year, and Singapore-based Glife raised US$1.18 million in a seed round in 2019.

via PR Times

One Capital’s first fund holds final close at $145M, invests in 8 startups

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Tokyo-based VC firm One Capital announced on Tuesday that it has reached the final close of its first fund at 16 billion yen (about $145 million US), more than three times oversubscribed from its original target 5 billion yen ($45.8 million US). According to Preqin, data resource for the alternative asset industry, the fund is the largest-ever single one managed by an independent firm in Japan. One Capital was established in April last year by Shinji Asada, the former head of Salesforce Ventures Japan, and Wataru Sakakura, former managing director and partner at Boston Consulting Group. Asada and Sasakura serves the firm as CEO and COO, respectively. The firm says 70% of the fund’s amount would be targeted to enterprise software startups that can help realize the Future of Work”. In addition to the investors joining the fund by the time of the first close last year, the firm introducecd medical kit maker Hogi Medical, a medical kit maker, the Organization for Small & Medium Enterprises and Regional Innovation, Japan (SME), En Japan (TSE:4849), Z venture capital (foremerly known as YJ Capital), and gas and power distribution company Saisan as new limited partners. Given that overseas individual and corporate investors…

Image credit: One Capital

Tokyo-based VC firm One Capital announced on Tuesday that it has reached the final close of its first fund at 16 billion yen (about $145 million US), more than three times oversubscribed from its original target 5 billion yen ($45.8 million US). According to Preqin, data resource for the alternative asset industry, the fund is the largest-ever single one managed by an independent firm in Japan.

One Capital was established in April last year by Shinji Asada, the former head of Salesforce Ventures Japan, and Wataru Sakakura, former managing director and partner at Boston Consulting Group. Asada and Sasakura serves the firm as CEO and COO, respectively. The firm says 70% of the fund’s amount would be targeted to enterprise software startups that can help realize the Future of Work”.

In addition to the investors joining the fund by the time of the first close last year, the firm introducecd medical kit maker Hogi Medical, a medical kit maker, the Organization for Small & Medium Enterprises and Regional Innovation, Japan (SME), En Japan (TSE:4849), Z venture capital (foremerly known as YJ Capital), and gas and power distribution company Saisan as new limited partners. Given that overseas individual and corporate investors account for over 40% of the fund’s investors, Asada told Bridge that it indicates overseas investors’ unparalleled expectations for the Japanese market.

Image credit: One Capital

One of One Capital’s symbolic investment policies is to focus on the SaaS vertical. Bessember Venture Partners, a long-established VC firm in the US known for having helped over 120 companies IPO, create an index from the stock prices of NASDAQ-listed SaaS companies and publishes it as EMCLOUD. Inspired by this, One Capital also started sharing an index based on the stock prices of listed SaaS companies in Japan, which clearly shows them growing more steadily than other stocks categorized in Nikkei 225 or Mothers.

Of the $10 billion enterprise software market in Japan (according to IDC Japan’s “Domestic Enterprise IT Market Forecast”, May 2020), SaaS businesses account for only 6%, at $5.5 billion (according to Fuji Chimera Research Institute’s “Software Business New Market 2020 Edition”). Rather than conventional packaged software, more and more companies prefer to use SaaS platforms where functions are constantly improved even after installation, and the Japanese market, with its large growth potential, is attractive to foreign investors, Asada says.

One Capital has has invested in the following eight companies from the first fund so far:

  • Beatrust (Employee Search Engine)
  • Boulder (Employee Success Tool)
  • Tonari (life-size video conferencing system)
  • ROXX (Reference Checking Tool)
  • oVice (Virtual Office)
  • Nota (FAQ system)
  • Spir(Calendly-like appointment scheduling tool)
  • Oura (ring-shaped IoT healthcare device)

The last of these, Oura, is unique in the list because it is a Finnish and also IoT startup. It can be also seen as a SaaS startup in terms of offering a dashboard to collect and analyze data from IoT devices. Furethermore, since it allocates a certain percentage of its first fund to investing in overseas startups aiming to enter the Japanese market, which encouraged the firm to join the Series C round of Oura.

UTokyo-related VC firm UTEC raises $275M fifth fund, launches acceleration program

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The University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners (UTEC) announced on Monday that it has launched its fifth fund. The firm made the first close of the fund which is eventually expected to secure up to 30 billion yen (about $275 million US). The fund’s investors have not been disclosed but Nikkei says the majority of them are institutional investors including sovereign wealth funds from Southeast Asia. The fund’s ticket size is up to 2.5 billion yen ($22.9 million US) per investment and company. Since its launch back in 2004, UTEC has been running five funds worth 85 billion yen ($780 million US) in the total commitment amount. It has invested in more than 110 companies, 13 of which have IPO-ed and 12 of which have been acquired by other companies. The total market cap of the IPO-ed 13 companies reached 1.5 trillion yen ($13.7 billion US) as of December 2020. The fund can invest in startups at various stages while we may recall recent funding from the fund such as Startbahn (blockchain-based certificate issuing for art) and Kuzen (no-code interactive AI platform). UTEC also announced that it has launched the UTEC Founders Program (UFP), an open-ended support program for startups…

The University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners (UTEC) announced on Monday that it has launched its fifth fund. The firm made the first close of the fund which is eventually expected to secure up to 30 billion yen (about $275 million US). The fund’s investors have not been disclosed but Nikkei says the majority of them are institutional investors including sovereign wealth funds from Southeast Asia. The fund’s ticket size is up to 2.5 billion yen ($22.9 million US) per investment and company.

Since its launch back in 2004, UTEC has been running five funds worth 85 billion yen ($780 million US) in the total commitment amount. It has invested in more than 110 companies, 13 of which have IPO-ed and 12 of which have been acquired by other companies. The total market cap of the IPO-ed 13 companies reached 1.5 trillion yen ($13.7 billion US) as of December 2020. The fund can invest in startups at various stages while we may recall recent funding from the fund such as Startbahn (blockchain-based certificate issuing for art) and Kuzen (no-code interactive AI platform).

UTEC also announced that it has launched the UTEC Founders Program (UFP), an open-ended support program for startups in the science and technology fields. The program consists of two tracks: the Equity Track, which provides up to 100 million yen in equity investment, and the Grant Track, which provides up to 5 million yen in grant. Equity Track applications are accepted at all times while Grant Track ones will be accepted from June 15 to July 31.