Japan’s PM Abe praises winners of the 2nd Nippon Venture Awards

Image credit: Cabinet Public Relations Office

See the original story in Japanese.

Venture Business Creation Council, Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, The Tokyo New Business Conference (Connect!), and Japan New Business Conferences held the award-presenting ceremony for the 2nd Nippon Venture Awards last week in Tokyo, where Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, economy minister Mikio Hayashi, and eight winners of the awards were invited.

At the beginning of the ceremony, Abe gave the following speech highlighting Peptidream’s history, the company having won the Prime Minister award.

The company chosen for the Prime Minister award had realized an innovation for fighting ailments such as cancers and infections. I was told that they started from a garage-like office filled with used laboratory tables. By putting technologies for pinpoint attacks on cancer cells into practical use, it has grown into a huge company with a market capitalization of more than 200 billion yen (about $1.75 billion) in just ten years. […]

I would like to conclude my remarks by wishing Japan to become a major startup power led by you the winners as a new force and by other entrepreneurs who will follow you.

The following are the details of the award winners.

Prime minister’s award winner: Peptidream

Kiichi Kubota, CEO of Peptidream, receives the testimonial from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Image credit: Cabinet Public Relations Office

Peptidream is a University of Tokyo-originated venture focusing on research and development of drugs under academia-industry cooperation. By utilizing a special peptide developed at RCAST (Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology) of the University of Tokyo, which improved the disadvantages of the conventional peptide having poor in-vivo stability or no cell membrane permeability, Peptidream has been creating new peptide pharmaceuticals.

Economy minister’s award winners (partnership of venture and established company): ZMP, DeNA, and Sony Mobile Communications

ZMP has been developing platforms for development of autonomous driving technologies and sensor systems, or engaging in development support of autonomous driving technologies for automakers. It established Robot Taxi, aiming to facilitate mobility in cooperation with DeNA, in May of 2015. With Sony Communications, it had started Aerosense last August for the survey and analysis business using drones.

Economy minister’s award winner (female entrepreneur): Genequest

GeneQuest is a startup focusing on gene analysis, established by researchers at the University of Tokyo and others in 2013. Sending back one’s saliva collected by the sampling kit which was sent from the lab after the order, one can receive evaluation with 300 items regarding congenital onset risks of diseases or constitutions based on the results of gene analysis.

Special jury award winner (global expansion): Mercari

Mercari, providing a mobile marketplace app for C2C (consumer-to-consumer) under the same name, established a branch office in San Francisco in March 2014 and entered the US market. Recently, it has tried to strengthen its services and to secure human resources as well through investment in other startups. On 1 February, it revealed that the app achieved seven million downloads just within the US.

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Special jury award winner (social problem solution): Surala Net

Tokyo-based Surala Net developed educational materials utilizing interactive animation that enable learning with a game feel via the Internet, targeting children from the higher grades of elementary school to high school. Tying up with domestic cram schools, the service has realized an education model consisting of both self-learning support using these materials and follow-ups by tutors.

Special jury award winner (intrapreneurship): Sony

Translated by Taijiro Takeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy