Yutaka Endow, Director of Japan-India Startup Hub and The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) talks about the various opportunities available for Indo-Japanese entrepreneurship-enterprise collaboration and presented 10 curated startups from the JETRO stable that are driving innovation.
The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) is a government-related organisation promoting mutual trade and investment between Japan and the rest of the world. As one of their activities, they offer abundant information on all aspects of doing business in Japan, including expert consultation and free temporary office space in major business areas across the country.
One of their significant outreach initiatives is The Japan India Startup Hub, an online platform to bridge the gap between Indian and Japanese startup ecosystems and enable meaningful synergies to promote joint innovation in both economies. The Hub was conceptualised as part of a joint statement signed between the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (Japan) and Ministry of Commerce and Industry (India) on 1st May 2018. It enables collaboration between startups, investors, incubators, and aspiring entrepreneurs of both countries and provides them with the requisite resources for market entry and global expansion.
Speaking about some of the success stories from the initiative, Mr. Endow cited the instance of NIRAMAI Health Analytix, the startup that innovated a breast cancer screening software that uses machine intelligence over thermal images to enable an affordable radiation-free solution for detecting breast abnormalities in women of all age groups. “Having won the gold prize from among 130 startups at Hack Osaka 2019, they went on to attract Series A investment of $6 million led by Dream Incubator and Beenext,” he said, adding that NIRAMAI was now planning to work on industry-academia research collaboration in Japan, supported by related Japanese Ministries and hospitals.
The JETRO startup pitches
Having set the context for the Indo-Japanese innovation platform, the session moved on to the startup pitches featuring 10 curated startups from the programme as below.
1. Fuller Ind: App Ape
App Ape is Japan’s number one mobile app marketing, analytics and intelligence platform providing rich insights on mobile apps’ actual usage and user behaviour. App Ape helps to extract value from the data and generate new, reliable business insights that play a vital role in decision-making processes.
FutuRocket is developing an AI-powered smart camera, named ManaCam, for small businesses. The camera is simple, easy to install, and automates from the get-go, without requiring any prior tech or engineering knowledge. Its primary use is to capture footfalls in stores, stalls and other spaces with the data collected converted into insights for the owners. Priced at under Rs 6,000, it’s perfect for shops and small businesses in India.
Amegumi has developed Sunblaze OS, a smartphone operating system focused on supporting minimal functions. The company aims to develop inexpensive smartphones at around $45 for markets such as Asia and Africa, specialising in users who do not use games or watch videos, and are satisfied with lighter versions of social networking apps, search and other minimal functions. Amegumi is searching for possible alliances through open innovation in the future, especially with leading telcos, ad agencies, app developers, IoT product developers and other companies to help it drive its low cost and innovation vision.
4. DG TAKANO
DG TAKANO is a holistic solutions company that has innovated the water conservation space with its product Bubble 90. Bubble 90 is a water-saving nozzle that conserves up to 95% water, significantly improves detergency, and requires no electricity to function. The patented Pulsating Flow Technology is the defining feature of the Bubble90, and the reason behind its incredible cleaning power and water-saving potential. Thanks to some engineering wizardry, only 10 percent of the water makes it out of the nozzle. DG TAKANO’s clients include factories and local businesses, major hotels and supermarkets, chain stores and restaurants, hospitals and welfare institutions. The company is planning on a low-cost plastic model for the Indian market in 2020. It also has further plans to innovate in the water conservation space with oil-resistant utensils.
5. Polar Star Space
Polar Star Space is a venture company from Hokkaido University that utilises the technologies of Hokkaido University, Tohoku University and Shiga University of Medical Science as a base, to provide data-driven problem-solving services in the fields of agriculture, fisheries, resources and energy, disaster prevention, etc. The startup uses a proprietary measurement method combined with a proprietary smartphone spectroscope and drone-mounted multi-spectral camera, to construct a highly accurate bi-directional reflectance distribution function, which can be a source of powerful competitive advantage for understanding the state of any target. Their micro-satellite (one of three in the world) is capable of monitoring the same spot every two days against the norm of 10. Leveraging these strengths, they look at realising high-precision remote sensing ahead of the rest of the world and contributing to solving global issues.
6. Doreming Services
Doreming Services is a social startup, missioned to promote financial inclusion and sustainable development goals around the world. It is the world’s first integrated platform for HR and payroll, and financial services, all on a free platform. Doreming aims to provide access to basic & affordable financial services, including real time access to earned but unpaid wage. Its patented system allows people to receive pro-rata payments based on their accrued take-home value – the amount employees have worked for, minus taxes. When people need money before payday, they can use their phones to see what funds are available for the amount of work they’ve done.
DeepScore is an AI-based fraud-detection solution that offers new generation scoring to the financial industry using facial and vocal inputs. DeepScore can generate a trust score even from a first-time customer in one minute without any historical records. The startup has a state-of-the-art fraud detection system which measures facial movement under high-pressure questions. It gives scores of truthness by analysing users’ stress signs on their face or voice. The engine is already active in the real lending process, and now available for global market trial. The trust detection system is especially useful for lenders, insurance, online retail and similar businesses looking to authenticate customers.
Winners of the SingularityU Japan Global Impact Challenge 2019, Sagri is smart agriculture collaborative platform that empowers farmers to improve their yields and get micro-financing at the same time. Using a combination of satellite and soil analysis data, their proprietary technology helps farmers increase their harvest yields. Using a combination of their harvest prediction data, credit data and market data, they are also able to provide easy microfinance for farmers via their app. Looking to work in the Rs 1.9 trillion agri-microfinance market in India, they have set up operations in the country and are looking for collaborators.
10. Dream GP: 3D FootBank
3D FootBank is an orthotics innovator with a mission to provide opportunities for everyone to find their ‘sole’ mate. They believe that finding the best-fitting orthotics for feet should be just as easy as finding prescription lenses for the eyes. SD FootBank is a part of DreamGP Inc., the innovators of the 3D foot scanner, foot pressure measurement equipment, the shoe navigation system, and custom-made orthotics. Their patented 3D foot scanner, Footstep PRO, is the most advanced 3D foot scanner available on the market today.
Combining state-of-art technology and a user-friendly design, the lightweight and portable Footstep PRO automatically scans a foot in 15 seconds. For amazing accuracy, it measures 30,000 foot points and 19 areas of the foot. The software is easy-to-use and allows for effortless management and analysis of information. The technology is highly relevant for orthopaedic, chiropractic and sports practices. Having received global attention throughout the shoe industry, they are expanding their business worldwide through retailers, shoe manufacturers, and wellness centres.