This is a guest post authored by “Tex” Pomeroy. He is a Tokyo-based writer specializing in ICT and high technology.
Tokyo Startup Gateway was commenced in 2014 as a startup support program for those aged 15 to 39 and setting up shop in Tokyo, offered by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. The secretariat operations are handled by a nonprofit organization based in Tokyo’s Shibuya district, renowned for being a Tokyo startup hub, called ETIC (Entrepreneurial Training for Innovative Community); as its name suggests, the organization offers training to young people who wish to start up and sustain new business enterprises.
In addition, this NPO also avails a purely private-sector Corporate Social Responsibility-type training project together with Mistletoe‘s Taizo Son known as SUSANOO. SUSANOO just finished gathering its 4th batch and provides bootcamps focused on social business. ETIC additionally arranges business internships for freshman and sophomore university students through its DRIVE internship program, not to mention having a Makers University set up to inculcate next-generation entrepreneurs and providing entrepreneurial support for the disaster-stricken Tohoku region.
As for Tokyo Startup Gateway, the publicly-supported Tokyo effort will help those looking to start up, that is prior to incorporation, a new entity whether for profit or not by affording the opportunity to take part in an idea contest (in the form of business plans in “400 Japanese characters” regardless of nationality, but apparently must be fluent in Japanese). This year’s application was closed on June 12.
The contest leads to selection of those who obtain mentoring, given a look at plans for establishing startups, then given financial support for these businesses. Even if not selected, the applicants – especially those who did not make it to the final round in November of 2016, planning to start up by end of 2017 fiscal year – will be able to utilize the networks formed in moving forward their business activities as sources for Key Performance Indicators.
Not only has this contest led to many new challenges being brought forth by young entrepreneurs (as an aside, if one was still aged 39 as of April 1, one could still apply for that year) such as past applicants aiming to realize the world’s first typhoon powergen system and carrying out R&D on flying cars, but in addition has launched numerous women entrepreneurs due to about a third of the applicants being women. Indeed the program theme of “Change the Color of the World” seems to be the driving force in building an ecosystem for innovation in Tokyo.