Kyoto’s Startup Ecosystem
The ancient city of Kyoto, which was the former capital of Japan, has nurtured several high-tech companies that have made their mark globally with their unique technologies. Recently the city has been steadily climbing up the ladder as an emerging startup ecosystem that has been gaining momentum given the culture of this city.
The city has been home to some of Japan’s leading entrepreneurs, including Horiba’s late Masao Horiba and Kazuo Inamori of Kyocera. Distinct from San Francisco or New York, the city of Kyoto aims to build a Startup Ecosystem–a community of startups and angel investors–who will lead the evolution of local industries. Since antiquity, it has been a city where tradition and innovation have evolved in harmony and fusion with different cultures.
The industrial culture on which Kyoto is building its startup ecosystem provides various goods and services that other people and companies depend on. The city, an epitome of the Japanese culture, has always helped its businesses rise, harboring a system of mutual support.
The city’s emerging startup ecosystem is still nascent compared to its neighboring cities and key players in the Northeast Asian region but growing steadily. It demonstrates a promising potential for entrepreneurs looking to establish their startups. Building upon its culture, the business world follows suit, with established executives reaching out to young entrepreneurs nurturing a vibrant startup ecosystem.
While the world is in the sense of stagnation, Kyoto is aiming to take the lead in attracting entrepreneurs and startup companies from Japan and abroad by blending with its history, traditions, and culture as the “Start-up Capital.”
Kyoto has an array of industrial communities such as biotechnology, precision machining, robotics, AI, games, foods, etc. Kyoto University is one of Japan’s leading educational institutions that has been aggressively promoting entrepreneurs in recent years. The Kyoto University Venture Fund was set up in 2007 and is now managed by Miyako Capital.
Kyoto is seeing a rise in the number of accelerators and incubators, providing startups with additional mentorship and early-stage funding sources. Success stories are already emerging from this connection of talent and institutional support. There are weekly networking nights, seminars, and startup events held across the nation’s major cities, and Kyoto makes no exception. For budding entrepreneurs, the city has coworking spaces that support the community. Kyoto Makers Garage provides tools and a space for anyone to create.
The Startup Capital Kyoto initiative by JETRO Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture and Kyoto Municipal City has been introduced to support overseas entrepreneurs starting their businesses in the city. The startup capital of Kyoto offers coworking space, backing in establishing a new company, consultations, and referrals to the ecosystem in Kyoto.
Startup Visa enables entrepreneurs from abroad to expand their businesses in Kyoto. Interested individuals will be able to apply for a “Certificate of Entrepreneurial Activity Plan Confirmation” and receive management support from industry specialists. Particular interest will be given to manufacturing, AI, IoT, renewable energy, culture, and tourism. Moreover, free co-working spaces, networking opportunities, and government subsidies will also be available. These are very positive signs for the momentum of Kyoto’s ecosystem since navigating strict immigration laws has been a challenge for investors and businesses in the past.
Kyoto boasts 38 world-class universities with 150,000 students in Kyoto city, including four universities specializing in arts. It has seven national and public universities and 27 private universities located in Kyoto prefecture, ranked first in Japan in the number of students and universities per 100,000 population. These universities have 10,000 science and engineering students (2,500 students graduate from university every year) along with 10,000 international students.
Keihanna Science City hosts R&D centers of major corporations, national institutions, and Japan’s leading institutes of science and technology.
Excellent physical and digital infrastructure;
Presence of leading research and development centers;
World-class universities and highly skilled workforce;
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