THERAPY ROBOTICS AND MORE: JAPANESE STARTUPS AT IFA

JETRO and METI kicked off IFA NEXT’s first-ever global partnership

“Interface with Consideration and Sensibility” was the slogan of IFA NEXT’s very first global partner. The Japan Pavilion consisted of two national institutions: the Japanese External Trade Organisation (JETRO) and METI (Ministry of Trade, Economy, and Industry). We caught up with Masato Tanakai from JETRO’s Innovation and Intellectual Property Department to nd out more about the signi cance of the partnership.

JETRO counts almost 60 offices around Japan and, since 1992, has had a German of ce in Berlin, initially specialising in helping Berlin-based and East German businesses get a foot in the door of the Japanese market. Under increasing demand, JETRO also gained responsibility for helping several northern German federal states in 2000. In February 2019, the EU signed the Economic Partnership Agreement with Japan, making trade between Japan and the open borders of the EU smoother than ever before.

JAPANESE STARTUPS ARE EXPANDING INTO FINTECH, IOT, AND AI — BASICALLY, MAKING THEIR OWN MARK ON THE WIDER DEVELOPMENT TRENDS AROUND THE GLOBE.

As technology plays an indispensable role in consumers’ day-to-day lives and therefore in the growth of businesses, it is important to use local strengths to produce global results. With the special focus on Japanese startups at IFA NEXT in 2019 and Berlin’s recent reputation as a European startup hub, JETRO not only continues a long-term partnership with Germany, but shows its dedication to giving a first taste of publicity to younger generations of innovators.

What kind of technologies are most interesting to startups in Japan right now?

Japanese startups are expanding into ntech, IoT, and AI — basically, making their own mark on the wider development trends around the globe. This year, the IFA NEXT focus was on exciting topics such as interconnected cities and the future of mobility, which fits in perfectly with what we are doing.

Tell us more about the collaboration with METI.

Together with METI, we, JETRO, have formed the Japan Pavilion at IFA NEXT. We are its first global partners, and as national organisations in Japan, this is a huge honour. We consider IFA NEXT a world stage for rising startups to show off their talents to tradespeople and the general public.

What were the standout events for JETRO at IFA?

JETRO participated in the official ShowStoppers event, while METI sponsored it. It was great to see journalists enjoying product demos and to know that the next generation of innovators from Japan is getting a bit of recognition over here in Europe.

What were your favourite parts of IFA?

We saw the Opening Gala and thought it was very impressive. Otherwise, it’s a pleasure to see what other businesses are doing around the world, see the trends, get to experience it for ourselves. It’s fun to think about where Japan and Europe could be in the future.

What was the signi cance of JETRO coming not just to IFA, but to Berlin?

I’m glad that Japan can collaborate with Germany so that we can reach European markets and, as is crucial for startups, European investors. In my opinion, the two countries’ cultures are actually quite similar, especially when it comes to business. For example, both of them respect the importance of being on time. More than that, Japan is the world’s third-strongest economy if you look at its GDP, and Germany is the largest economy in the EU. Basically, the sky is the limit!


Photo: Masato Tanakai, Innovation and Intellectual Property Department, Japanese External Trade Organisation (JETRO)