[Monozukuri Hub Meetup Vol.8] Asia Innovation Tour: Japan as a starting point for IoT.
Sponsored by Kyoto City, and this time with creators from around the world, this series of monthly meetups bring makers, experts, mentors and investors to talk about topics related to IoT and how to leverage a startup from a business point of view.
Monozukuri, as a Japanese word, could be explained as “making things with constant innovation”, and Makers Boot Camp purpose is to connect global creators with companies who can support startups with new technologies.
On behalf of our team, I was in charged of introducing the topic and show international creators how they can take advantage of the Japanese high tech environment.
Japan should be considered a starting point for IoT, as many products that are already part of our lives have been developed and designed here, with users from all over the world who approve and trust in our quality “Made in Japan”.
Kyoto, as the ancient capital of Japan, has a developed a strong range of all kinds of industries, from textile, architecture and craftsmanship, until known software and hardware brands like Nintendo, Omron, Nidec and Kyocera. In a region with many universities, skilled professionals are quitting their jobs to try to start their own business, following global trends of entrepreneurship.
That’s exactly the case for Kenshin, one of our Co-Founders, who used to work for Sony and has already been involved with many startups as part of his career. His current business is Hacarus, a kitchen smart scale crowdfunded on Makuake, the main platform for Japanese startups.
After some research about the hardware ecosystem, Kenshin realized the support he needed for his startup was right here, in Kyoto, his hometown. Meeting Kyoto Shisaku Net companies, as crossEffect and Hilltop — the same ones Asia Innovation Tour had the chance to visit, provided him the insights to make his product in Japan.
For his small lot production, Kenshin needed a fast and cost-effective supplier who could deliver his product on time, and he didn’t have time to manage suppliers of his supplier. As a network, KSN offered an integrated Professional Industrial Project Management for his prototype so he decided to extend this possibility to other makers.
That’s when Kenshin spoke to our CEO Makino, who’s used to many hardware startups issues, as he’s been in charge of incubators in Kyoto and Osaka. They both shared the same vision about expanding KSN expertise and decided to join Mr. Masatoshi Takeda, experienced manufacturer with an extensive knowledge about hardware companies in Japan. Together, they decided to offer support for makers, in order to reach mass manufacturing.
As a maker, Kenshin knew about many challenges to make a product and reach the global market. The number of failed cases was impressive, as most makers were struggling around the same stage: Design for Manufacturing (DFM).
After talking to startups, our Co-Founders realized most of them not only had issues to find suppliers for outsourcing their manufacturing, but also lacked business skills and technological know-how to solve the gaps of an industrial project.
The idea in this meet up was to bring large corporations that are looking for disruptive solutions to meet makers who have new projects ready for manufacturing. We believe collaboration is a key point to reach sales and this win-win partnership can add value to both sides.
Mr. Yusuke Masuda spoke about Nagase & Co, a trading company interested in manufacturing and developing new technologies — a very unique positioning in the Japanese market, a business partner from the sketch to the end. Nagase offers a R&D center in Kobe, with a biotech office with prototyping functions available for stakeholders and clients to have free access to a full facility to work in new products. With a global network of 100 companies in 20 countries, their fields are divided in functional and advanced materials, electronics, automotive & energy, life & healthcare, willing to partner with creators to bring new products to the market.
Mr. Jack Akita from SoftBank, in charge of +Style Alliances, explained . A fusion of three functions, planning, crowdfunding and shopping, the platform gives companies complete control over operations, from project planning to sales, while at the same time ensuring that they can respond to consumer needs. +Style expands purchasing options by introducing products not previously available. As one of the main IoT supporters in Asia, a platform that connects companies producing IoT (Internet of Things) items with consumers interested in these new products
Mitsui & Co is not only the Japanese main global trader — different from venture capital and private equity, but also a consulting for marketing and logistics, to provide efficient resources, risk management, IT support and financing. Their six business area metals, machinery, structure, chemicals, energy and lifestyle are involved in different areas.
Mr.Tuchiya, part of the Innovation Corporate Development, is in charge of new business, with a 360 view of innovation, including all related areas: hydrocarbon chain, minerals resources and materials, food and agriculture, infrastructure, mobility, medical and healthcare, lifestyle and value added services — meaning everything — and always looking for innovative business and new creative solutions.
Mitsui team works for clients like Apple, as a purchaser, so they search for new technologies, knowing their customer’s main needs for future technologies.
Mitsui & Co is not only the Japanese main global trader — different from Venture Capital and private equity, but also a consulting for marketing and logistics, to provide efficient resources, risk management, IT support and financing. Their six business area metals, machinery, structure, chemicals, energy and lifestyle are involved in different areas.
Mr.Tuchiya, part of the Innovation Corporate Development, is in charge of new business, with a 360o of innovation, including all related areas from: hydrocarbon chain, minerals resources and materials, food and agriculture, infrastructure, mobility, medical and healthcare, lifestyle and value added services — meaning everything — and always looking for innovative business and new creative solutions.
They work for Apple as a purchaser, so they look for new sciences and technology, knowing the customer’s main needs for future technologies.
NTT West is one of the main carrier companies in Japan, with a vast telecom infrastructure and know-how to work with IoT Creators.
Mr. Hori brought us updates about LPWA/LoRa Network, a main concern for IoT connectivity when it comes to creating a new product.
Bluetooth and wifi, as an example, are networks that require an initial setup by users, and each one has its own specificities varying according to coverage, energy consumption (including battery life) and the cost.
Bluetooth and wifi are suitable mainly for local area networks (short range — 100m), which can be a domestic solution, but not suitable for services like gas and energy measurement.
When getting in touch with a telecom expert, entrepreneurs can get up to date information before making their business decisions, specially when adopting specific technologies.
Mr Harada, Material Engineer, works at R&D Ricoh team, a network and system supporter for offices.
Ricoh targets innovation and automatization, from printers to teleconference devices, presentation tools and also industrial items, like semi-conductors. In order to grow, there is a great demand to change their business model and focus on new technologies to reach industrial zones (B2B).
They are also searching for startups that have new ideas and skills to help them switching to their new zone of work (from printing to smart textile) and add value to more areas like monozukuri (manufacturing and making new products).
Our CEO Narimasa Makino explained our role for Asia Innovation Tour and introduced our partnership with HWTrek, as part of helping creating a more connected ecosystem for makers, highlighting the potential for entrepreneurs to find in Japan their trustable partners to reach the market.
HWTrek CEO Lucas Wang brought more details about their platform to connect creators and experts willing to collaborate and also find online ways to manage their projects in an easier and reliable way. He also showed some new features on the tool, improving the way user can get in touch. With 10,000 creators and 10,000 Experts involved in around 2,500 projects on board, (pure B2B), their idea is to connect people face-to-face, as during Asia Innovation Tour, extending the online experience to personal — the hardest issue for startups to find the right contact in large corporations or manufacturers.
Take a look at the details about the presentation decks from the speakers .
By Sabrina Sasaki
Originally published at makersboot.camp.