President’s Note for June 2023

 In Japan Society News

June marks the beginning of summer season – a time when thoughts often turn to school holidays and family vacations. However, for Japan Society of Northern California, the last few weeks have kicked off perhaps our busiest season of the year with a succession of high-impact activities in Japan and the Bay Area.

Last week, we held two live, marquee events in Tokyo as a lead-up to our 13th Annual Innovation Awards program. On June 13, we held a VIP, invite-only reception at the US Ambassador’s residence in Tokyo for the first time since 2019. Ambassador Emanuel made remarks to the guests, and we received enthusiastic feedback from those in attendance.

Last week we also partnered with the ACCJ (American Chamber of Commerce of Japan) to put on an excellent speaker program at the Tokyo American Club featuring three past Innovation Award winners.  

Mr. Mitsuru Izumo, CEO of Euglena, our Japan Emerging Leader in 2013, Mr. Issei Takino, CEO of Mujin, our Emerging Leader in 2018, and Mr. Atsushi Saiki, CRO of iSpace Inc., a Showcase Award Winner in 2018, participated in a lively panel discussion about how their businesses had evolved since they received their Award.

Euglena started with a vision to use an algae-based food product to help end hunger in Bangladesh – and it now produces SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel). Mujin is a leader in robotic control systems that can be used to make any maker’s robots easier to use and control. And iSpace is focused on building lunar landers and rovers to provide commercial transport services to the moon. The leaders spoke candidly about the challenges of overcoming adversity and growing their companies. 

The Innovation Awards, one of our largest and most exciting programs of the year, will take place this year on July 20 at Stanford. (If you haven’t already purchased your tickets, you can still get an Early Bird discount if you purchase before July 6. We also still have some space available for Exhibitors – please contact us to reserve your space.)

This year’s program features some excellent keynote speakers and a number of exciting early-stage companies from Japan, including Elephantech (sustainable, metal inkjet printing technology for electronics manufacturing), FinalAim (contract management platform using Web3 technology), LegalOn (AI-based contract review tools), Recotech (tools to help companies reduce waste in their supply chains), and Skydrive (flying cars). 

Meantime, we’ve also been very busy here in the Bay Area. A Reverse Pitch Event in conjunction with the MedTech Innovators Annual Innovation Summit in Mountain View featured presentations by 15 Japanese companies that are seeking partners and investment opportunities in US healthtech.

A program this week included great presentations from eight companies that are driving the future of the mobility industry. Thank you to our partners, the Consul General of Japan, Japan Chamber of Commerce of Northern California, JETRO and host (and JSNC member) Hitachi.

And two more programs this week focus on healthcare, including a program with James Wright, an author who researched Japan’s use of robots for eldercare

That is followed by another program on 6/22 called The Intersection of AI and Life Science Industry, which features presentations by healthcare companies that are using AI to build their business as well as panel discussions. This event is hybrid format, so you can also join us online.

Finally, we finish the month with a return to cultural programming and a demonstration of Japanese horseback archery (yabusame) that will take place in our SF office on June 27. This promises to be a great event with Kiyomoto Ogasawara, who will be assisted by Maria Peterson and Tim Macmillan that some of you may remember from our fantastic Kyudo program earlier this year.

I’m pretty sure that by the time our Innovation Awards program wraps up on July 20, we will all REALLY be ready for that summer vacation!

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