There have been several cases recently of venture capital funds teaming up with major companies to support startups in their growth. This is meant to speed up business projects based on ideas originating from startups by combining venture capital’s methods of identifying promising young businesses with the major companies’ know-how in fostering projects.
While organizations specializing in fostering entrepreneurs have contributed greatly to launching promising companies in the U.S., the latest moves mean additional options for fostering Japanese companies and opportunities for giving birth to a wide array of business ventures.
The independent venture capital fund Beyond Next Ventures (Chuo Ward, Tokyo) will sign an agreement in May with Sompo Japan to cooperate in supporting startups. Beyond Next Ventures will concentrate on identifying partners in the health care sector and team up with Sompo Japan to introduce relevant technologies and support R&D.
This venture capital fund specializes in startups dealing in technical development in regenerative medicine, medical equipment, and related fields. It launched a venture fund of 5.5 billion yen in 2015.
However, startups developing technology find that translating their technology into business projects usually takes time and combining their technology with those of other companies is often crucial, according to Beyond Next President Tsuyoshi Ito. He wants to take advantage of the major companies’ ability to expand business to speed up startups’ business projects.
On the other hand, Sompo Japan has been investing in “InsureTech” combining insurance and IT. It wants to make more contact with startups before considering investments.
The venture capital fund Samurai Incubate (Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo) started a project last fall with Japan Post to solicit ideas for using drones for delivery.
Japanese venture capital Scrum Ventures based in Silicon Valley started projects to support startups this spring with Panasonic and Nintendo, inviting them to make proposals on new business projects and new functions for game consoles.
In addition to venture capital, there has been an increase in specialized accelerator activities to form partnerships between major companies and startups.
01Booster (Minato Ward, Tokyo) has undertaken 20 projects since 2015. It has five ongoing projects, including ones with JTB and Tanabe Mitsubishi Pharma. It has also implemented several projects with Morinaga & Co. and Kirin Holdings, resulting in these major companies’ investment in startups or in cooperation between them and startups.
Creww (Meguro Ward, Tokyo) has been successful in several ventures. It has ongoing projects with Denso and Keiyo Gas.
Japanese startups now have more options for growth. However, from now venture capital funds and accelerators may undergo a selection process based on their performance records. (Abridged)