Event Report Latitude 59

“Latitude59”, one of the leading startup conferences in the Nordic and Baltic area, was held in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, on May 19 and 20 2022. The conference celebrated its 10th anniversary this year and attracted approximately 2,800 participants from 58 countries.

Shibuya Startup Support (SSS) members and Ms. Seno and Mr. Sato from the Global Hub City Promotion Office in Shibuya city were in attendance, where they used the opportunity to represent Shibuya city and interact with local startups.

This year Japanese participants included Shibuya city, Kobe City, Fukuoka City, and Hyogo Prefecture. The day before “Latitude59”, JETRO hosted the side event “Japan Innovation Day,” where participating regional governments made pitches to local startups, entrepreneurs, VCs, and government agencies about what kind of support they are providing to entrepreneurs in their cities. SSS made a presentation on the benefits startups in Shibuya city can enjoy, and the Startup Visa Program.

Photo: Shibuya City

At “Latitude 59”, Shibuya city set up a booth with their partner city Kobe to explain the services available to startups and to conduct business matching with local startups. Other sessions about Japan and the Asian market were also held under the title of “Big in Asia”.

Photo: Shibuya City

A message from Mr. Oliver Ait, Embassy of Estonia in Japan

“I consider this year’s Latitude59 a great success, especially since it was one of the first startup-oriented major events after COVID restrictions. I believe we had the largest amount of our Japanese friends attending the event this time. Shibuya and Kobe startup representatives were present with their own booth, which in my opinion shows that the communities between Japan and Estonia have strong and practical relations. I believe this trend will continue and the relations will only deepen.

Japan’s large corporations are looking for open innovation opportunities outside their own structures and country. Japan also has a large market and the world’s strongest technology companies. Estonia, on the other hand, has one of the most active startup ecosystems in the world having 5.5x as many startups per capita as the European average. We are also considered the leader in unicorns per capita in Europe.

I believe this is something that Japanese large corporations can benefit from and they already have. Several years ago Mistletoe discovered Estonia by investing in Funderbeam, Lift99, Jobbatical, Clanbeat, and Xolo. Different Japanese corporations have invested in Starship, Transferwise, Realeyes, and Bolt. Another important highlight is the creation of NordicNinja between VC BaltCap and Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Honda, Omron, and Panasonic. Estonia with its agile, adaptable, and innovative ecosystem is a natural partner for Japanese corporations as a testbed and source for new technologies.

Shibuya Startup Support can act as a landing platform for Estonian startups who are looking to enter in the Japanese market but possibly help out with financing. Shibuya Startup Support can act as a partner for acceleration and mentorship programs in Estonia by bringing in investors or mentors from technologically strong Japanese companies. I believe our cooperation can be also widened to the deep tech area.”

A message from Shibuya Startup Support Ms. Seno

“It was a great opportunity for me to participate in Latitude 59, an event where entrepreneurs from the Nordic and Baltic regions gathered. It was a very valuable opportunity to exchange opinions with many entrepreneurs, VCs, and government officials. In the future, we would like to take advantage of the unique characteristics of each country and strengthen our cooperation.” 

There was a movement in the Nordic region to form a startup community of their own a few years ago, which was called “Nordics”.

This year we have strengthened cooperation not only with the Nordic region but also with the Baltic region. In fact, many people involved in this and other events have begun using the term “New Nordics” to refer to the startup communities of the Nordic and Baltic regions collectively, showing how closely intertwined they are. I am very impressed with the way they are trying to bring the Nordic/Baltic community together.

Through participation in Latitude59, Shibuya Startup Support is currently connecting with local startups, entrepreneurs, VCs, and government agencies to collaborate on future programs in each region, as well as online events to showcase the startup ecosystem in Shibuya. We are in talks to jointly hold online events to introduce each other’s programs and startup ecosystems in the future. As Shibuya Startup Support, we will continue to strengthen our ties with Estonia and the Nordic-Baltic region to form an entrepreneur-first community.

If you are a startup interested in Estonia, or an Estonian interested in the Shibuya Startup Support program, please feel free to contact us!