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Experts discuss the power of convergence and a culture that embraces failure

Experts discuss the power of convergence and a culture that embraces failure

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Central Japan is where the mysterious sphere-shaped object, which many nicknamed ‘Godzilla Egg,’ washed up on the beach in February. Coincidentally, another sphere concept was unveiled at a panel discussion hosted by the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) and the Central Japan Start-up Ecosystem Consortium, which was themed around regional innovation in Aichi, Nagoya and Hamamatsu, fostered through co-creation. The new sphere-shaped logo announced after the session not only represents the geographical and industrial centre of Japan’s manufacturing excellence but also depicts the open and welcoming culture of the region, which invites like-minded start-ups and entrepreneurs from all corners of the world.

The power of convergence

In a panel discussion dubbed ‘Region×Innovation – Knowing Who and How to Engage,’ PDIE Group Founder, Christian Schmitz, cited Tesla as an example of the type of innovation start-up ecosystems are tackling today. ‘We need to realise Tesla only looks like a car’ but is, in fact, ‘a convergence of different technologies.’ He said so to describe how the Central Japan region’s spirited hardware manufacturing craftsmanship can evolve by connecting with start-ups specialised in new digital areas such as AI, Big Data, material science and nano-technology, as well as emerging business models. In addition, Schmitz welcomed the fact that there are now increasing opportunities after the pandemic to meet face-to-face in networking or matching events.

Jonathan Soble, Editorial and Communication Lead at the World Economic Forum Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) Japan, said he sees more and more people in Japan, both expatriate and Japanese moving away from Tokyo, but are remotely connected to Tokyo or even Australia. He concluded that anyone interested in the Central Japan region could be plugged into the ecosystem without constantly being on the ground. However, Jonathan continued by provoking the area to also transform the work culture, if not, at the very least, ‘should embrace that creative people (or start-ups) prefer a different workstyle and lifestyle’ from conventional Japanese manufacturing companies or plants.

A culture that embraces failure

Shinko Osada, a board member of Future Design Shibuya, expanded on the cultural aspect, stressing the importance of defining the city or region as a brand before discussing the possibility of a cross-border ecosystem succeeding out of Japan. Based on her experience working behind the on-going rebranding of Shibuya in Tokyo, she described how ‘the people make up the culture’, and a sense of belonging, energy and city pride were the key ingredients of what makes an appealing regional brand. ‘We need to connect and involve a diverse range of people’ to raise awareness of the regional brand, which ‘attracts more people who want to take part’ in evolving the Central Japan Start-up Ecosystem.

Osada continued that the region’s culture also ‘needs to embrace failure’. Fortunately, the Central Japan region has been long known for its Yaramaika spirit, which means ‘Let’s give it a try’.

An open and energetic brand identity

The new official logo and branding for the Central Japan Start-up Ecosystem will be applied beyond the consortium’s website and LinkedIn account. The logo takes its cue from two facts. First, the region is geographically located roughly in the centre of Japan. Second, the area has been the centre of Japan’s manufacturing excellence for centuries. The sphere circling the ‘C’ is always open – not closed, representing the region’s vision to become a place where open innovation is born for entrepreneurs of all corners and its commitment to support them.

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