Osaka City Government establishes incubator and fund for local entrepreneurs

A cafe at Knowledge Capital (Photo: Kansai Walker)

On Friday the Osaka City Government launched a startup incubation facility located just in front of the city’s largest railway terminal. The Osaka Innovation Hub is situated in the R&D center complex of Knowledge Capital, which was previously used as a cargo terminal for Japan’s national railway company.

The facility has co-working spaces and 3D printing devices, and is exhibiting innovative scientific products such as a virtual fitting booth, or an android story-teller developed by notable scientist Hiroshi Ishiguro. It also organizes programs for aspiring entrepreneurs to learn more about starting a business, including letting them visit notable startups or incubation facilities in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The facility is a part of the city’s startup incubation efforts, which were first announced last February. At that time there were a number of guests from VC firms from Japan and around the world, including 500 Startups’ Dave McClure and Sunbridge’s Allen Miner.

Local governments in Japan are struggling because most new business and startups are very much concentrated in the Tokyo metropolitan area. So some municipal governments beyond the capital are exploring ways to accelerate their local economies, helping entrepreneurs set up in their regions. In addition to the incubator, the Osaka City Govenment is planning to form a startup fund in the range of 50 to 100 billion yen (approximately $50 million to $100 million) in partnership with private equity companies. They aim is to develop more than 100 business through this effort in the coming three years.

Mayor Toru Hashimoto aspires to create more startups from Osaka.

To providing the appropriate support for startups in the incubation facility, Silicon Valley-based Japanese venture capitalist Hiroshi Menjo and Evernote Japan’s CEO Hitoshi Hokamura joined the managing committee.

On a related note, local digital companies in the city will co-organize a hackathon event at the facility on May 11th, where the top prize winner can receive 500,000 yen rewards in cash. It is our honor to serve them as a media sponsor.