This is a guest post authored by “Tex” Pomeroy. He is a Tokyo-based writer specializing in ICT and high technology.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike attended the unveiling of the brand-new addition to the Big Sight international convention center where the 12th edition of the largest trade show for small and medium-sized businesses in Japan was started October 31. East Hall 7 was venue to the new Business Frontier Fair annex to the exhibition. Several selected startups were among those handpicked for the fair, encompassing the Going-Global Innovations Competitions Zone.
Many firms were looking to partner with foreign companies in advance of the Olympiad slated for Korea (2018) and Japan (2020), not to mention 2019 Rugby World Cup to which Tokyo is playing host. The main sponsor, the Tokyo Small and Medium Enterprise Support Center, had last May tied up with the Thai Ministry of Industry and set up a Bangkok office, resulting in many companies from Thailand showing up at this year’s event.
There have been other moves by the Japanese side, such as Japanese entrepreneur Takeshi Izuka looking to establish the Kirirom Institute of Technology in Cambodia and Taito City of Tokyo working closely with Hanoi for software development cooperation deals between companies located in their two cities. Gridmark, which took part in TechCrunch Disrupt SF, is promoting its language teaching-use voice-pen. There’s also a group closely linked to Japan setting up a hotel management school in Myanmar.
But getting back to activities in the Tokyo area, there were several startups such as E3 Enterprise and Growtac offering athlete monitoring devices. Although not a startup per se, a Chiba outfit called Imedex (as President Makoto Ichida puts it, some companies could surely “re-startup”) – which was a Japanese delegation member at Disrupt SF exhibition too under its corporate banner of THINK INNOVATION – exhibited as well its cardiac monitoring system with the athlete in mind.
Meanwhile others took a wider perspective like safety. Whill the all-terrain wheelchair had its rider safety system on show at the main hall. A perennial startup favorite of this writer’s, Challenge, had its earthquake sensor network as well as the campus safety system on display not only at the invited Business Frontier Fair Security/Safety/Disaster Preparation area but in the Information exhibition section too, looking to find as many overseas partners as possible.
- In conversation with Whill, the Japanese personal mobility startup on a roll in Silicon Valley
- Smaller Japanese ventures seeking to project themselves overseas
Finally, there were Pi Photonics, a venture business from Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture which is now looking to set up a presence in Tokyo before the year is out, highlighting its LED lighting systems including for wave display-art use in Zushi, Kanagawa Prefecture and Mirai Labo of Hachioji, a venture business also looking to light up night-time construction work locations and such in addition to developing an innovative inverter for solar cell use.