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Japanese robotics startup Telexistence closes series A round with $40M+

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Tokyo-based Telexistence, the Japanese startup developing remote-controlled robots, announced today that it has secured about 2.2 billion yen (about $20 million US) in a series A2 round. Participating investors include Airbus Ventures, KDDI Open Innovation Fund (KOIF), Deepcore, UTokyo Innovation Platform (UTokyo IPC), and several unnamed investors, in addition to Monoful, a digital transformation-focused subsidiary of global logistics giant GLP. This follows a previous round (estimated to be series A1) in December of 2018 when some of the investors participating in the latest round such as KOIF, UTokyo IPC, Deepcore, and Monoful also participated. With the Series A1 (previous round) and A2 (the latest round) rounds combined, the company has secured about 4.5 billion yen (over $40 million US) in a series A round. Telexistence has been developing tele-controlled robots using a variety of technologies including tele-presence, robotics, communications, virtual reality (VR), haptics, and artificial intelligence (AI). They plan to use the funds to expand its product development team as well as accelerating product development and implementation to the expanding customer base in the retail and logistics sectors. The company has partnered with Monoful to develop the Augmented Workforce Platform (AWP) for logistics facility operations. AWP allows operators to control…

The Model-T robot
Image credit: Telexistence

Tokyo-based Telexistence, the Japanese startup developing remote-controlled robots, announced today that it has secured about 2.2 billion yen (about $20 million US) in a series A2 round. Participating investors include Airbus Ventures, KDDI Open Innovation Fund (KOIF), Deepcore, UTokyo Innovation Platform (UTokyo IPC), and several unnamed investors, in addition to Monoful, a digital transformation-focused subsidiary of global logistics giant GLP.

This follows a previous round (estimated to be series A1) in December of 2018 when some of the investors participating in the latest round such as KOIF, UTokyo IPC, Deepcore, and Monoful also participated. With the Series A1 (previous round) and A2 (the latest round) rounds combined, the company has secured about 4.5 billion yen (over $40 million US) in a series A round.

Telexistence has been developing tele-controlled robots using a variety of technologies including tele-presence, robotics, communications, virtual reality (VR), haptics, and artificial intelligence (AI). They plan to use the funds to expand its product development team as well as accelerating product development and implementation to the expanding customer base in the retail and logistics sectors.

The company has partnered with Monoful to develop the Augmented Workforce Platform (AWP) for logistics facility operations. AWP allows operators to control robots installed in warehouses via the Internet and participate in tasks such as loading and unloading pallets while operators are working from home.

The company also announced that it has tied up with Japanese office furniture giant Okamura Corporation (TSE:7984) for joint research and development of fixture products optimized for carrying and displaying by robots.

Japan crowdfunding site Makuake sets up shop in Korea, targets $13M+ in deals by mid-2022

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Japanese crowdfunding platform Makuake (TSE:4479) announced on Thursday that it has set up a subsidiary and an office in Korea as the first one outside its home turf. They expect to help Korean companies expand into the Japanese market by encouraging the latter to launch campaigns on the platform. They appointed their global team manager MiRyeong Kim as the head of a local subsidiary in Korea. Prior to Makuake, Kim finished her master’s degree in economics at Kyoto University and then participated in establishing an overseas subsidiary of CyberZ. She won the Newcomer Award at CyberAgent (TSE:4751), the former parent company of the crowdfunding platform. She contributed to founding the global team at Makuake, having been focused on curating overseas projects from Taiwan, Korea, and China. In 2017, Makuake partnered with the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) to help curate applicants for crowdfunding campaigns from Korea. Subsequently, the company partnered with Korean counterpart Wadiz to send campaign hosts to each other in 2018. It has helped about 600 projects from Korea including Bluetooth-compatible speaker table Mellow (securing about $219,000 through two campaigns) and laser rangefinder VH-80 (over $91,000). Makuake targets over $13 million in transacting crowdfunding campaigns from Korea by…

MiRyeong Kim, Head of Makuake Korea
Image credit: Makuake

Japanese crowdfunding platform Makuake (TSE:4479) announced on Thursday that it has set up a subsidiary and an office in Korea as the first one outside its home turf. They expect to help Korean companies expand into the Japanese market by encouraging the latter to launch campaigns on the platform. They appointed their global team manager MiRyeong Kim as the head of a local subsidiary in Korea.

Prior to Makuake, Kim finished her master’s degree in economics at Kyoto University and then participated in establishing an overseas subsidiary of CyberZ. She won the Newcomer Award at CyberAgent (TSE:4751), the former parent company of the crowdfunding platform. She contributed to founding the global team at Makuake, having been focused on curating overseas projects from Taiwan, Korea, and China.

In 2017, Makuake partnered with the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) to help curate applicants for crowdfunding campaigns from Korea. Subsequently, the company partnered with Korean counterpart Wadiz to send campaign hosts to each other in 2018. It has helped about 600 projects from Korea including Bluetooth-compatible speaker table Mellow (securing about $219,000 through two campaigns) and laser rangefinder VH-80 (over $91,000).

Makuake targets over $13 million in transacting crowdfunding campaigns from Korea by June next year. Earlier this year, the company partnered with US-based crowdfunding giant Indiegogo to help Japanese startups expand into the US and global markets.

Japanese public blockchain developer Stake Technologies secures $10M

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See the original story in Japanese. Stake Technologies, the leading developer of Made-in-Japan public blockchains such as Plasm Network and Shiden Network, announced today that it has secured 1.1 billion yen (about $10 million US) from Fenbushi Capital, Gumi Crypto, East Ventures, and other notable investors. Since its founding in 2019, the company has been conducting consistent research and development of public blockchains, having de and developing Japan’s first public blockchains, Plasm Network and Shiden Network. Japan lags far behind Europe, the U.S. and China in public blockchain, a technology that will be the foundation for the next generation of industry. However, the company has the potential to break through that status quo. The investors in this round include some of the global leading crypto and blockchain VCs from the US, China, and Europe, as well as several leading Japanese VCs and angels. From Japan, East Ventures, Gumi Crypto, Hotlink founder Yuki Uchiyama, Keio University economics professor Toyotaka Sakai, and former Sony chairman and CEO Nobuyuki Idei participated. The funds raised will be used for accelerating product development, hiring new talents as well as expending public blockchain ecosystem.

See the original story in Japanese.

Stake Technologies, the leading developer of Made-in-Japan public blockchains such as Plasm Network and Shiden Network, announced today that it has secured 1.1 billion yen (about $10 million US) from Fenbushi Capital, Gumi Crypto, East Ventures, and other notable investors.

Since its founding in 2019, the company has been conducting consistent research and development of public blockchains, having de and developing Japan’s first public blockchains, Plasm Network and Shiden Network. Japan lags far behind Europe, the U.S. and China in public blockchain, a technology that will be the foundation for the next generation of industry. However, the company has the potential to break through that status quo.

The investors in this round include some of the global leading crypto and blockchain VCs from the US, China, and Europe, as well as several leading Japanese VCs and angels. From Japan, East Ventures, Gumi Crypto, Hotlink founder Yuki Uchiyama, Keio University economics professor Toyotaka Sakai, and former Sony chairman and CEO Nobuyuki Idei participated.

The funds raised will be used for accelerating product development, hiring new talents as well as expending public blockchain ecosystem.

Parallel, Japan’s answer to Discord, secures $11M series B for global expansion

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Tokyo-based Parallel, the Japanese startup behind a voice chat app under the same name, announced today that it has secured 1.2 billion yen (about $11 million US) in a series B round. Participating investors are Jafco Group (TSE:8595), KDDI Open Innovation Fund, Anri, W ventures, and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital. The startup will use the funds to strengthen engineering and marketing teams. Founded in July of 2017 as its previous name of React, Parallel has secured a pre-series A and series A round without disclosing detailed terms to date. They launched the Parallel app back in August of 2019 which is so to speak the mobile-optimized version of Discord and targets mobile game users. It boasts a cumulative total of one million registered users and over 400 million minutes of total monthly talk time. When it comes to a voice chat app for gamers, many of our readers may recall Discord but their users had been forced to use a web browser that were not guaranteed to work properly until it launched an official mobile app about half a year ago. In addition, Discord has some problems such as difficulty in understanding the status of other users as well as inability…

Image credit: Parallel

Tokyo-based Parallel, the Japanese startup behind a voice chat app under the same name, announced today that it has secured 1.2 billion yen (about $11 million US) in a series B round. Participating investors are Jafco Group (TSE:8595), KDDI Open Innovation Fund, Anri, W ventures, and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital. The startup will use the funds to strengthen engineering and marketing teams.

Founded in July of 2017 as its previous name of React, Parallel has secured a pre-series A and series A round without disclosing detailed terms to date. They launched the Parallel app back in August of 2019 which is so to speak the mobile-optimized version of Discord and targets mobile game users. It boasts a cumulative total of one million registered users and over 400 million minutes of total monthly talk time.

Image credit: Parallel

When it comes to a voice chat app for gamers, many of our readers may recall Discord but their users had been forced to use a web browser that were not guaranteed to work properly until it launched an official mobile app about half a year ago. In addition, Discord has some problems such as difficulty in understanding the status of other users as well as inability to hear the game sound when talking with someone.

Parallel’s users have been mainly Generation Z and gamers, but the company plans to create a hangout space where users can enjoy content while sharing time with friends, family, and loved ones in everyday situations such as movies, live performances, listening to music, and shopping. In addition to the development of new functions, the company will also work on strategic alliances with entertainment companies and full-scale overseas expansion.

Secai Marche nabs $1.4M to extend food supply chain connecting farmers with F&B in Asia

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Tokyo- / Kuala Lumpur-based Secai Marche, the Japanese startup behind a shared food supply chain for the Southeast Asian market under the same name, announced on Tuesday that it has secured 150 million yen (about $1.4 million US) from Beyond Next Ventures and Rakuten Ventures. The company plans to use the funds to strengthen its fresh food fulfillment service, hire new talents, and enhance its marketing effort. Since its launch back in July of 2018, the company has been offering a cold supply chain connecting farmers and food producers with F&B businesses in the Southeast Asian market, especially optimized for the delivery of low-volume and high-mix orders. Supply chains for fresh produce in the region is usually operated by the supplier side, which are optimized for bulk deliveries and therefore difficult to use it for small restaurants which typically ask for small orders or niche needs. The company wants to solve the problem by building a shared supply chain allowing several different food suppliers to use for delivery. The company says more than 100 farmers and food producers in Japan and ASEAN as well as more than 300 restaurants and hotels are using the 20-month-old platform. In view of optimized…

The Secai Marche team
Image credit: Secai Marche

Tokyo- / Kuala Lumpur-based Secai Marche, the Japanese startup behind a shared food supply chain for the Southeast Asian market under the same name, announced on Tuesday that it has secured 150 million yen (about $1.4 million US) from Beyond Next Ventures and Rakuten Ventures. The company plans to use the funds to strengthen its fresh food fulfillment service, hire new talents, and enhance its marketing effort.

Since its launch back in July of 2018, the company has been offering a cold supply chain connecting farmers and food producers with F&B businesses in the Southeast Asian market, especially optimized for the delivery of low-volume and high-mix orders.

Supply chains for fresh produce in the region is usually operated by the supplier side, which are optimized for bulk deliveries and therefore difficult to use it for small restaurants which typically ask for small orders or niche needs. The company wants to solve the problem by building a shared supply chain allowing several different food suppliers to use for delivery.

The company says more than 100 farmers and food producers in Japan and ASEAN as well as more than 300 restaurants and hotels are using the 20-month-old platform.

In view of optimized fresh food supply chain startups in the region, Thailand’s Freshket raised US$3 million in a Series A round last year, Y Combinator Alumni Eden Farm from Indonesia won a pre-Series A round in March this year, and Singapore-based Glife raised US$1.18 million in a seed round in 2019.

via PR Times

UTokyo-related VC firm UTEC raises $275M fifth fund, launches acceleration program

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The University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners (UTEC) announced on Monday that it has launched its fifth fund. The firm made the first close of the fund which is eventually expected to secure up to 30 billion yen (about $275 million US). The fund’s investors have not been disclosed but Nikkei says the majority of them are institutional investors including sovereign wealth funds from Southeast Asia. The fund’s ticket size is up to 2.5 billion yen ($22.9 million US) per investment and company. Since its launch back in 2004, UTEC has been running five funds worth 85 billion yen ($780 million US) in the total commitment amount. It has invested in more than 110 companies, 13 of which have IPO-ed and 12 of which have been acquired by other companies. The total market cap of the IPO-ed 13 companies reached 1.5 trillion yen ($13.7 billion US) as of December 2020. The fund can invest in startups at various stages while we may recall recent funding from the fund such as Startbahn (blockchain-based certificate issuing for art) and Kuzen (no-code interactive AI platform). UTEC also announced that it has launched the UTEC Founders Program (UFP), an open-ended support program for startups…

The University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners (UTEC) announced on Monday that it has launched its fifth fund. The firm made the first close of the fund which is eventually expected to secure up to 30 billion yen (about $275 million US). The fund’s investors have not been disclosed but Nikkei says the majority of them are institutional investors including sovereign wealth funds from Southeast Asia. The fund’s ticket size is up to 2.5 billion yen ($22.9 million US) per investment and company.

Since its launch back in 2004, UTEC has been running five funds worth 85 billion yen ($780 million US) in the total commitment amount. It has invested in more than 110 companies, 13 of which have IPO-ed and 12 of which have been acquired by other companies. The total market cap of the IPO-ed 13 companies reached 1.5 trillion yen ($13.7 billion US) as of December 2020. The fund can invest in startups at various stages while we may recall recent funding from the fund such as Startbahn (blockchain-based certificate issuing for art) and Kuzen (no-code interactive AI platform).

UTEC also announced that it has launched the UTEC Founders Program (UFP), an open-ended support program for startups in the science and technology fields. The program consists of two tracks: the Equity Track, which provides up to 100 million yen in equity investment, and the Grant Track, which provides up to 5 million yen in grant. Equity Track applications are accepted at all times while Grant Track ones will be accepted from June 15 to July 31.

Japan’s Axelspace nabs $24M series C, all set to put 10 nanosats into orbits

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Axelspace Holdings, the parent company of nano-satellite developer Axelspace, announced on Friday that it has secured approximately 2.58 billion yen (about $23.6 million US) in a Series C round. Participating invesotors are Sparx Innovation for Future, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Investment, JP Investment, 31 Ventures-Global Brain Growth I LLC (jointly operated by Mitsui Fudosan and Global Brain), Kyocera, and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital. For the satellite startup, this follows their Series A round in September 2015 and Series B round in December 2018. The 31 Ventures-Global Brain-Growth I fund participated in the series B round as well. The latest round brought the company’s total funding sum to date up to more than 7 billion yen (about $64 million US). Axelspace was spun off from the University of Tokyo and incorporated as a company in 2008. The company has been developing small and inexpensive satellites weighing some 60 kilograms, and launched satellites outsourced from Japanese weather company Weathernews (TSE:4825). Leveraging these low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites, Axelspace plans to collect weather and terrain data to sell to governmental organizations and private businesses. Launching a conventional satellite usually costs tens of millions of dollars, but the cost of a nano-satellites can be reduced to less…

The Axelspace management team. From left: CTO Naoki Miyashita, CSO Yoshihiro Ohta, CBO Yasunori Yamazaki, CEO Tomoya Nakamura, CPO Yusuke Nakanishi, and CFO / CHORO Hiroki Aomoto
Image credit: Axelspace

Axelspace Holdings, the parent company of nano-satellite developer Axelspace, announced on Friday that it has secured approximately 2.58 billion yen (about $23.6 million US) in a Series C round. Participating invesotors are Sparx Innovation for Future, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Investment, JP Investment, 31 Ventures-Global Brain Growth I LLC (jointly operated by Mitsui Fudosan and Global Brain), Kyocera, and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital.

For the satellite startup, this follows their Series A round in September 2015 and Series B round in December 2018. The 31 Ventures-Global Brain-Growth I fund participated in the series B round as well. The latest round brought the company’s total funding sum to date up to more than 7 billion yen (about $64 million US).

Axelspace was spun off from the University of Tokyo and incorporated as a company in 2008. The company has been developing small and inexpensive satellites weighing some 60 kilograms, and launched satellites outsourced from Japanese weather company Weathernews (TSE:4825). Leveraging these low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites, Axelspace plans to collect weather and terrain data to sell to governmental organizations and private businesses. Launching a conventional satellite usually costs tens of millions of dollars, but the cost of a nano-satellites can be reduced to less than $10 million, making it possible to build a constellation system for earth observation with multiple nano-satellites.

In 2015 the company announced AxelGlobe, the earth observation infrastructure which will provide imagery of more than half of the planet’s dry land once every single day. The infrastructure is composed of several nano-satellites, five of which have already been launched, and the goal is to have ten in the future. Since the latest round has paved the way for the initial target of 10 satellites, the company established the AxelGlobe Business Unit to promote the widespread use of satellite data and implement it into many aspects of our society.

Japan’s Hacobu secures $8.7M to use big data for optimizing B2B logistics

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Tokyo-based Hacobu, a business-to-business logistics optimization startup, has announced that it has secured 940 million yen (about $8.7 million US) in its latest round of funding. Participating investors are JIC Venture Growth Investments (JIC VGI), NN Corporate Capital (Investment arm of Nomura Real Estate Holdings), Toyota Tsusho (TSE:8015), Logistics Innovation Fund (Spiral (TSE:8015), Logistics Innovation Fund (a sector-focused fund managed by Spiral Capital and ledby Seino Holdings as an anchor limited partner), SMBC Venture Capital, Daiwa House Group’s Daiwa Logitech, and Mitsui Fudosan (TSE:8801). For the startup, this round follows 160 million yen funding in November of 2016, 140 million yen funding in November of 2017, and 400 million yen funding in April of 2019. Among the investors participating in the latest round round, Daiwa Logitech and Mitsui Fudosan followed their previous investments made in September of 2017 and September of 2019 respectively. The latest rounding brought the company’s funding sum to date up to at least 1.64 billion yen ($15.2 million). Hacobu was founded in May 2016 by CEO Taro Sasaki who had been previously working as a consultant on a project for Morinaga Milk where he faced with the challenge of how to improve the logistics efficiency of…

Image credit: Hacobu

Tokyo-based Hacobu, a business-to-business logistics optimization startup, has announced that it has secured 940 million yen (about $8.7 million US) in its latest round of funding. Participating investors are JIC Venture Growth Investments (JIC VGI), NN Corporate Capital (Investment arm of Nomura Real Estate Holdings), Toyota Tsusho (TSE:8015), Logistics Innovation Fund (Spiral (TSE:8015), Logistics Innovation Fund (a sector-focused fund managed by Spiral Capital and ledby Seino Holdings as an anchor limited partner), SMBC Venture Capital, Daiwa House Group’s Daiwa Logitech, and Mitsui Fudosan (TSE:8801).

For the startup, this round follows 160 million yen funding in November of 2016, 140 million yen funding in November of 2017, and 400 million yen funding in April of 2019. Among the investors participating in the latest round round, Daiwa Logitech and Mitsui Fudosan followed their previous investments made in September of 2017 and September of 2019 respectively. The latest rounding brought the company’s funding sum to date up to at least 1.64 billion yen ($15.2 million).

Hacobu was founded in May 2016 by CEO Taro Sasaki who had been previously working as a consultant on a project for Morinaga Milk where he faced with the challenge of how to improve the logistics efficiency of the milk company’s 10 logistics subsidiaries in Japan, which led to developing a shared logistics platform called Movo.

They offer the platform to more than 500 companies including manufacturers, retailers, and logistics providers all across Japan. Thanks to the cloud and hardware such as the IoT devices managing moving vehicles, the company solves problems like vehicle dispatch (as an integrated logistics management solution, solves the problem of the difficulty of finding trucks to dispatch), operation management (solves the problem of not knowing location information of the trucks), and berth management (solves the problem of using trucks efficiently because of waiting time).

The startup will use the funds to hire talents for the development and sales of the application, strengthen logistics big data analysis infrastructure, and launch and operate big data governance system. They expect to accelerate their progress toward solving social issues such as long working hours at logistics sites, carbon emissions, inventory disposal, and food waste through the optimization of logistics and supply chains.

Insurance giant Sompo buys 21.9% stake in Google-backed deep learning startup Abeja

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Tokyo-based Abeja announced that it has formed a capital and business alliance with Japanese insurance giant Sompo Holdings (TSE:8630). Sompo acquired 21.9% of the outstanding shares from Abeja’s five existing shareholders: INCJ, Salesforce.com, Mizuho Capital Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, and Itochu (TSE:8001). The startup became an affiliate of the insurance conglomerate. Founded in September of 2012, Abeja has provided their AI-powered analytics suite Abeja Platform companies while more than a few stores have adopted Abeja Insight for Retail, their retail industry store analysis solution. To date, the company has secured over 6 billion yen (about $55 million) from domestic VC firms in addition to global tech giants like Google and Nvidia. Meanwhile, Sompo invested US$500 million in Palantir Technologies (NYSE: PLTR), the data analytics startup well known to have been founded by Peter Thiel, in June 2020 prior to its listing so that the former is poised to adopt the latter’s data integration and analysis platform. Since last year, Abeja has been working with Sompo to develop predictive models and other joint businesses based on data analysis machine learning, especially in the areas of nursing care, healthcare, and domestic non-life insurance businesses. Sompo has been considering to develop “real data platform…

Abeja CEOYosuke Okada explains about Abeja Platform Partner Ecosystem
(Photographed at Docomo Innovation Village in November of 2016)
Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

Tokyo-based Abeja announced that it has formed a capital and business alliance with Japanese insurance giant Sompo Holdings (TSE:8630). Sompo acquired 21.9% of the outstanding shares from Abeja’s five existing shareholders: INCJ, Salesforce.com, Mizuho Capital Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, and Itochu (TSE:8001). The startup became an affiliate of the insurance conglomerate.

Founded in September of 2012, Abeja has provided their AI-powered analytics suite Abeja Platform companies while more than a few stores have adopted Abeja Insight for Retail, their retail industry store analysis solution. To date, the company has secured over 6 billion yen (about $55 million) from domestic VC firms in addition to global tech giants like Google and Nvidia. Meanwhile, Sompo invested US$500 million in Palantir Technologies (NYSE: PLTR), the data analytics startup well known to have been founded by Peter Thiel, in June 2020 prior to its listing so that the former is poised to adopt the latter’s data integration and analysis platform.

Since last year, Abeja has been working with Sompo to develop predictive models and other joint businesses based on data analysis machine learning, especially in the areas of nursing care, healthcare, and domestic non-life insurance businesses. Sompo has been considering to develop “real data platform for safety, security, and health” with Palantir, and joining Abeja in this initiative will accelerate the move toward launching the platform. Abeja will also help Sompo promote the use of AI and cultivate human resources optimized for digital businesses.

In an interview with Nikkei published on Friday, Abeja CEO Yosuke Okada revealed that even after becoming an affiliate of the conglomerate, Abeja will maintain independent management scheme and aim for an IPO.

Sompo has been active in offering and developing services for elderly care, also operating several subsidiaries focused on senior care facilities in Japan. In recent years, it has invested in IoT developers Novars and Moff for helping monitor the elderly and supporting their rehabilitation, smart security device company Secual, and Taiwan-based diabetes management platform Health2Sync. The insurance giant has launched digital strategy hubs called Sompo Digital Lab in Silicon Valley and Israel, and some of our readers may recall that last year it invested in Intuition Robotics, the Israeli startup developing robots to help the elderly relieve isolation and loneliness.

See our past articles featuring Abeja:

Daiz, Japan’s answer to Impossible Foods, secures $17M series B round

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Kumamoto-based Daiz, the Japanese startup developing plant-based substitutes for meat products, announced on Monday that it has secured about 1.85 billion yen (about $17.1 million) in a series B round. Participating investors are Ajinomoto (TSE:2802), Marubeni (TSE:8002), Nippon Steel Trading (TSE:9810), Kanematsu (TSE:8020), Kanematsu Foods, ENEOS Innovation Partners, Kichiri Holdings (TSE:3082), Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Capital, The Norinchukin Bank, Global Brain, Kemuri Ventures, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, Golden Asia Fund Ventures (jointly run by Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute-backed investment arm and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital), QB Capital, Shinkin Capital, and Kirin Holdings (TSE:2503). Among these investors, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital follows the Series A investment in May 2020 while QB Capital follows the September 2018 round. The latest round brought Daiz’s funding sum to date up to 3.05 billion yen (about $28.2 million). The company will use the funds to expand its meat substitutes production, strengthen research and development, develop global business channels, and hire new employees. The company plans to expand its annual production capacity up to 4,000 tons from June this year. Following this round, Daiz will work with Ajinomoto and Nichirei Foods (Nichirei Foods joined the series A round) to develop products for household and commercial use using the startup’s…

Image credit: Daiz

Kumamoto-based Daiz, the Japanese startup developing plant-based substitutes for meat products, announced on Monday that it has secured about 1.85 billion yen (about $17.1 million) in a series B round.

Participating investors are Ajinomoto (TSE:2802), Marubeni (TSE:8002), Nippon Steel Trading (TSE:9810), Kanematsu (TSE:8020), Kanematsu Foods, ENEOS Innovation Partners, Kichiri Holdings (TSE:3082), Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Capital, The Norinchukin Bank, Global Brain, Kemuri Ventures, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, Golden Asia Fund Ventures (jointly run by Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute-backed investment arm and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital), QB Capital, Shinkin Capital, and Kirin Holdings (TSE:2503).

Among these investors, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital follows the Series A investment in May 2020 while QB Capital follows the September 2018 round. The latest round brought Daiz’s funding sum to date up to 3.05 billion yen (about $28.2 million).

The company will use the funds to expand its meat substitutes production, strengthen research and development, develop global business channels, and hire new employees. The company plans to expand its annual production capacity up to 4,000 tons from June this year.

Following this round, Daiz will work with Ajinomoto and Nichirei Foods (Nichirei Foods joined the series A round) to develop products for household and commercial use using the startup’s flagship meat substitute Miracle Meat. Leveraging the network of trading companies like Marubeni, Nippon Steel Trading, and Kanematsu/Kanematsu Foods, the company expects to cultivate sales channels for the meat substitute in both overseas and domestic markets. Daiz and ENEOS Holdings (parent company of ENEOS Innovation Partners) aim to create a low-carbon society through the spread of the meat substitute, which has a smaller environmental impact than animal meat and plant-based substitutes from defatted soybeans.

DAIZ adopts the patented Ochiai method in germinating soybeans, which activates enzymes and increases the amount of free amino acid contained by imparting stress such as lower oxygen level and higher temperature at the right timing of germination. This eventually contributes to bringing out the flavor of the raw ingredients and reproducing the meat-like texture without adding any additives.