Local Government Officials in Charge of Startup Promotion Talk About Their Efforts to Foster a Local Startup Ecosystem

The other day, the 96th round of “J-Startup Hour,” a regular event part of the J-Startup program by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), was held. Personnel in charge of Kyoto Prefecture, Fukuoka City, Tsukuba City, and Shibuya City gave presentations on the theme of “The Reality of Startup Support Leveraging Regional Characteristics.” Officials from Kyoto Prefecture, Fukuoka City, Tsukuba City, and Shibuya City gave presentations and shared their local initiatives and knowledge. From Shibuya City, Guy Sato, a Shibuya Startup Support (SSS) member and Chief of the Global Hub City Promotion Office, took the stage.

One of the characteristics of Silicon Valley’s startup ecosystem is that it is spontaneous and grows together with the community due to geographical and cultural factors. There is little intervention by the local government. In contrast, New York City, under strong leadership, actively invests people, money, and assets in nurturing and attracting startup companies. In Japan, the startup culture is not yet widely rooted, and there are many barriers to starting a business. So, while the development of a startup ecosystem is aiming for the former, the government and local governments must invest and provide support where necessary while utilizing the grassroots efforts by the private sector.

J-Startup is a national initiative launched by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in 2018. It selects “J-Startup companies” from among about 10,000 startups and provides exclusive support from a nationwide community made of public and private sectors. On the other hand, startup support programs at the local government level require flexible support, such as face-to-face contact with the community while taking advantage of the characteristics of each region, and this is where the staff in charge of each local government show their skills.

At this event, while the local government officials presented their policies that make use of the region’s strengths, Sato talked about Shibuya City’s unique initiatives, such as the bilingual website (SSS) and the one-stop Startup Welcome Service (SWS) for overseas startups. He also introduced the Shibuya Startup University (SSU), a unique training program supported by renowned entrepreneurs.

In the discussion after the presentation, we agreed that it is important to respect and not interfere with the grassroots efforts of the private sector in supporting local startups, that the official in charge is always within reach, and that the field can move freely under the strong leadership of the local government.

J-Startup Hour #96 “The Reality of Startup Support Leveraging Regional Characteristics” (August 5, 2021)
Speakers (in order of appearance)
Masahiro Adachi (Counselor for Startup Support, Monozukuri Promotion Division, Commerce, Industry, Labor and Tourism Department, Kyoto Prefecture)
Guy Sato (Chief, Global Hub City Promotion Office, Shibuya City)
Kenji Tanaka (Manager, Business Startup Support Division, Fukuoka City)
Yusuke Mori (Director, Policy Innovation Department, Tsukuba City)
Moderator: Yoshiaki Ishii (Director, New Business Creation Promotion Office, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry)

This session was part of the “Thursday Gathering” networking event organized by Venture Café Tokyo, a community for entrepreneurs and innovators.
The archived video of the event is available on YouTube.