Patent Information Fair brings startups together in Japan


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

Japan Patent Office’s booth (Image credit: Japan Patent Office)

The Patent Information Fair & Conference, held for three days from November 9 at Tokyo’s Science Museum and organized by Fuji Sankei Business i/Sankei Shimbun, Japan Patent Information Organization (JAPIO) and Japan Institute for Promoting Invention and Innovation (JIII), attracted many startups to the Kitanomaru Koen venue. The event was supported by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan Patent Office, National Center for Industrial Property Information and Training as well as the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

As it goes without saying, patents and such intellectual property rights and other know-hows can provide businesses, in particular new market entrants like startups, with an edge. There were a hundred booths gathered at the exhibit/conference which marks its 25th meeting this year. There were many overseas participants, including a presentation on the ASEAN intellectual property scene by P. Kandiah of Malaysia’s KASS International.

Federation of Patent Information Services (FPIS) / Property booth (Image credit: “Tex” Pomeroy)

One noteworthy Japanese startup was the spin-off from Nagoya University offering unique products and services based on utilization of cosmic rays. Headed by Dr. Kouji Narita, Science Impact has been exhibiting at the Patent Fair for the past few years owing to the fact that Dr. Narita has a Japanese patent attorney’s qualification. However, this year it gained momentum based on the company’s selection by Japan Science & Technology Agency (JST) for a new project.

Science Impact booth (Image credit: “Tex” Pomeroy)

The JST project which has Prof. Mitsuhiro Nakamura of Nagoya University as the team leader is the development of nuclear emulsion read-out technology which utilizes high-resolution cosmic ray radiography. Kawasaki Geological Engineering (TSE:4673) of Tokyo assisted in the work, with support from Fujifilm (TSE:4901) in addition to Science Impact, in order to apply this technology to checking volcanic activities and deterioration of structures within without the need for destructive testing, among other issues related to geology.

Specifically, the development work aimed to realize everything from indication materials and illumination/imaging to measurement/read-out and analysis as a wholistic system so as to estimate the needs and applications for this endeavor. As an aside, the Japanese public broadcaster NHK recently used the system to identify secret underground cavities in the Egyptian pyramids, in cooperation with the international archeological effort looking to unravel the mysteries of the ancient relics.

It is also understood that Science Impact is working together with “community FM stations” in Japan for conveyance of disaster information by the broadcasters. According to a Japanese community FM station operator, the system run by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication, called L-ALERT, is seen being usable not only in Japan but abroad too in providing disaster alerts, and the Nagoya-based startup is aiming to cooperate in the adoption of this system overseas as well.

Speaking of overseas, another recent “spinout” at the show was the database provider Questel with a booth next to one of its Japanese distributors, Chuo Kogaku Shuppan (the other distributor being Property, located in the FPIS section). Questel was part of Orange, the former France Telecom that was renowned for its Minitel database system of yore. It is foreseen that other startups in addition to the aforementioned will be expanding in the patent information market through increased application of Artificial Intelligence.

Japan Science Museum (Image credit: Japan Science Museum)