Politically, it is an interesting time to be recruiting Korean startups for a Japan-based program so we were so happy when we received so many applications from Seoul-based entrepreneurs to attend our FastTrack event. Seoul is a fast-paced and dynamic place to be operating in the innovation ecosystem. Partially inspired by the ‘Israel model’, specifically via the amazingly generous government grant fund matching programs reminiscent of the Israel programs of the 90’s in style, but instead of 1:1 matched funding a whopping 5:1 ratio of grant has been up for grabs for budding Korea based entrepreneurs (imagine raising $100k and receiving a $500k grant in return!).
We were in Seoul with our great partners from Hankyu Corporation this time and we were all blown away by the innovative technologies and experienced, talented founders that came to meet with us. The advantage of being only a short flight away is that there was little need to spell out the opportunity Osaka and Japan holds for startups, many of the founders in Seoul already being aware of the huge brand name partners we have as core partners to our program – the opportunity to be put onto a pathway of acquiring them as a customer or partner making our program difficult to resist.
Our venue partners and host this time was Startup Alliance, a key connector in the Seoul ecosystem that provides and hosts seminars, networking opportunities, education and consultancy. Along with the Startup Alliance leadership team, we were joined by WeGo – The World Sustainable Cities Organization, JETRO Seoul, KOTRA, the Korean Trade-Investment Promotional Agency. We discussed smart cities and the potential for cross-border collaboration for startups from Korea to work with corporates and government in Japan and vice versa. There is so much potential to build and grow stronger ties in the area of innovation and entrepreneurship across Japan and Korea and with our partners we really look forward to taking a leadership role in this space.
In terms of trends, we saw a large number of health and wellness related technologies in Seoul across digital, fitness and deep tech pharma companies. After that there were significant number of transport and smart living related scaleups looking to enter new, international markets.
After the outstanding FastTrack in Seoul, we headed towards Tel Aviv.
We had a fascinating time in Tel Aviv. First off, after arriving at the iconic Azrieli Sarona Tower, we met with the wonderful Ethy, Founder of the Bridge Hub – a global innovation hub with focus on Agtech, foodtech, Industry 4.0, AI, automation and logistics – and a technology scout for leading multinational companies. Ethy shared a wealth of information about the Israeli tech industry, and some of its promising emerging companies.
After meeting, we headed to the 53rd floor, where the offices of Pearl Cohen, our gracious host, are located. There we had the pleasure of meeting our FastTrack event organizers, Shirley & Ravid from Samurai Incubate Israel, Guy, partner at the Hi-Tech Group of Pearl Cohen’s Tel Aviv office and the chair of the firm’s Japan Group, Liron & Motoki from the Japan Embassy in Israel, and Tomohiro from JETRO. Everyone was extremely welcoming, and provided us with various insights gained from their own extensive experience connecting Tel Aviv tech startups with Japanese large corporations.
After our engaging roundtable, we welcomed some exceptional high-caliber scaleups from around Israel. We were really impressed with the sophistication of their technology, their existing traction, and best of all, their interest in the Japanese market.
Having met so many incredible scaleups around the world these past 2 months, it’s going to be very difficult to select only 10 companies to participate in our Startupbootcamp Scale Osaka program this year! But with the application deadline nearly upon us, we are thrilled to see everyone’s applications and look forward to inviting some of them to our offices in Osaka in November.