Kyoto aiming to become a start-up city

Kyoto has set its sights on being selected by the national government as a Start-Up City, according to a joint announcement made by the Kyoto Prefectural Governor and Kyoto City Mayor on August 28. The goal of this program is to create Japan’s own Silicon Valley.

Kyoto, home to Kyocera, Nintendo, and Nidec, has long been known for its innovation and manufacturing industry. In July, Silicon Valley tech incubator Plug and Play opened their second Japanese base in Kyoto City with the intent to make Kyoto a world-class start-up ecosystem. 

This year the Japanese government established the Start-Up Ecosystem Creation Strategy to increase the number of start-ups, venture capital investment, and unicorns. Japan has been falling behind in the start-up world with VC investment of just 197 billion Yen in 2017. In contrast, the US had the equivalent of 9.5 trillion Yen, while China had investment of 3.3 trillion Yen.

By creating designated ‘Start-Up Cities’ the government will encourage support and development in focused regions, promote these regions overseas, and provide special start-up visas to attract foreign talent and entrepreneurs. Two or three cities are expected to be selected within the year.

Ideally, a start-up city will have a high start-up ratio, large corporations providing support, top-ranked universities, a diverse workforce, dense population, pleasant living environment and a good transport system in place. 

So far, 25 regions across Japan have expressed interest in being selected. 

Source: The Kyoto Shimbun, August 29, 2019.

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