Last week, Tokyo Star Bank Ltd hosted a competition for startup entrepreneurs with an overseas background. The event was open to non-Japanese and Japanese who were born in another country and had founded a startup in the last five years. The competition aims to help new talent launch new businesses in Japan, as well as boost foreign investment and international competitiveness.
Out of the 48 startup entrepreneurs who entered the contest, 7 finalists were selected to present their business plans. The presentations took place last Wednesday, July 18, in Tokyo with 1-million-yen prize money for the winning entrepreneur.
the event is important because due to falling population it is in the national interest to boost high-quality employment in the country
The winner of the Foreign Entrepreneur Business Plan Competition 2018 was Xianhe Zhang from China, CEO of 3DNest Inc. Zhang’s company provides 3D image scanning services for real estate and construction companies.
Using a combination of 3D cameras and software, 3DNest can provide quality, low-cost virtual views of apartment interiors and building structures. This service can save companies a lot of money. Currently, a modelling service would cost around JPY1 million and take a week to make. It will only take 3DNest forty minutes to create a virtual view, at a cost of JPY20,000.
Zhang, who is a graduate of Kansai University has always had aspirations to “bridge the interactions” between China and Japan and use his business’ technology to contribute to Japanese society.
The runner-up prize of JPY 300,000 went to Albert Okamura, the president of One Visa Inc. based in Tokyo. Okamura, who has a Peruvian mother and a Japanese father, moved to Japan when he was eight years old.
His company offers online forms for drawing up complex immigration documents for newcomers to Japan or companies hiring foreign employees. His service will do away with the need to hire expensive specialists to complete the immigration process. Having worked with Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau, he has first-hand experience of how difficult the process for foreigners can be.
New foreign business is needed
One of the judges of the competition was CEO of Tokyo Star Bank, Seiji Sato. He said the event is important because due to falling population, it is in the national interest to boost high-quality employment in the country. By embracing ideas based on the dual perspectives of foreigners in Japan, the Japanese economy can certainly benefit. Tokyo Star Bank knows the advantage of foreign input being is the only bank in the country that is affiliated with a foreign entity.
The Japanese government has also taken steps to encourage more foreign investors and entrepreneurs to set up business in Japan to boost foreign investment. It has plans to introduce a one-year visa to make it easier for people wishing to launch a startup business in the country.
With such competitions and incentives for foreigners, the attraction to build new businesses in Japan should continue to grow. Who knows what new and innovative startups we’ll see in this competition next year.