SOCAP 2016 brings together various solutions emanating from Japanese startups


This is a guest post authored by “Tex” Pomeroy. He is a Tokyo-based writer specializing in ICT and high technology.

Image credit: Kei Hareyama

From September 13 through 16, San Francisco’s Fort Mason provided the venue for SOCAP (Social Capital Markets) meeting which is held here on an annual basis. Their motto is “where the global community using business as a force for social change gathers to listen to each other, and to learn, and to get things done!” and has been ongoing since 2008 when 600 people took part; this year more than 2,500 participants attended.

Social Good LLC’s Yutaka (“Charlie”) Iimori
Image credit: “Tex” Pomeroy

There were several Japanese entities visiting San Francisco this year. Social Good LLC, which is closely involved with Impact Hub Tokyo, was represented at SOCAP 2016 by Mr. Yutaka (“Charlie”) Iimori. Social Good’s most recent “business” concept is the application of Internet of Things (IoT) technology for the improvement of safety in forested regions. Indonesia is one of the area targeted by them to set up an IoT network based on sensor-laden bird nest boxes.

Indonesia not only needs monitoring of the fauna to promote biodiversity but to maintain tropical timber trade conditions as well. By coincidence, the forest fire detection network would also be of use in California, which in recent years has seen many forest fires devastating it. As an aside, it should be noted that Social Good is looking to link startups and non-profits in order to promote community disaster-mitigation activities too.

It is understood that several Japanese tradinghouse-related people were also taking part, since impact investing and “meaning” are “central to such organizations” according to Mr. Yasu Yonemitsu, a consultant who wrote a report for the EU about Sogo Shosha (major Japanese trading companies) and was formerly with Mitsui & Co. He says,

In particular SOCAP focuses on clean energy and sustainable foods/agriculture, so these are areas that keenly interest such Shosha groups.

Image credit: SOCAP

The first day of SOCAP 2016 centered on neighborhood economics, on the assumption that cities are centers for change. In particular for the San Francisco Bay Area, cities therein have been hotbeds for “open innovation” and “inclusive entrepreneurship” as can be witnessed by the continued growth seen in Silicon Valley and San Francisco’s SOMA (South of Market) district, not to mention areas in the East Bay as exemplified by Berkeley, Emeryville and Oakland.

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Image credit: SOCAP

Renewal and resilience were the main themes upon considering neighborhood economics, in addition to the strength of community in fostering a better society. Referring back to the forest fire issue in light of these, there are several novel solutions being mulled in Silicon Valley which calls upon renewal of disaster countermeasures and promotion of resilience as based upon new technologies such as alert-providing drones and mitigation-oriented mobile systems.

Image credit: “Tex” Pomeroy

Interestingly, SOCAP 2016 overlapped somewhat with TechCrunch Disrupt SF which started on September 12 (unfortunately located this year at Pier48 across town, unlike the nearby venue last year), and one Japanese startup also attempted to disseminate information on their earthquake sensor alarm network as a “pro-community system” at Fort Mason, on the premise that San Francisco and California should become readied for a major earthquake.

Image credit: SOCAP