Japan

Kyoto

MEMBERS:
Startup Capital Kyoto

Kyoto has a wide range of industrial communities such as biotechnology, precision machining, robotics, AI, games, foods, etc. It also has a concentration of university research institutes and the optimal environment for startups, working and living that is close to history, culture, and nature. People with drive and ambition will be able to achieve wonderful new things in ‘Startup Capital Kyoto’.

Akimasa Yamashita
Vice-Governor, Kyoto Prefectural Government
Top 30 Asian Ecosystem: Bang for Buck
Top 30 Asian Ecosystem: Funding

Highlights

Japan’s ancient capital, Kyoto pairs a centuries’ long tradition of excellence and innovation in craftsmanship with the dynamism and technical know-how of a university town, making it a natural home for original thinkers. Kyoto University, one of Japan’s most elite educational institutions, has been actively nurturing entrepreneurs in recent years. The Kyoto University Venture Fund was set up in 2007 and is now managed by Miyako Capital. The ecosystem is also home to The Kyoto Institute of Technology (KIT), which recently established Kyoto Startup Summer School34, an English language entrepreneurship program aimed at connecting entrepreneurs and educators. KIT’s Design Lab (D-lab) facilitates collaborations in the fields of architecture, design, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Venture capitalists are the main players investing in startups in the ecosystem, though recently both large corporations and government agencies have also formed funds to nurture fast-growing businesses. The number of accelerators in Kyoto is also increasing, providing startups with additional sources of mentorship and early-stage funding. Success stories are already emerging from this nexus of talent and institutional support. Founders of Notion Labs, a San Francisco-based maker of a popular workplace productivity platform, completely revamped the product after moving to Kyoto in 2018. It has since raised a total of $67 million at a valuation of more than $2 billion. Kyoto-based electric car manufacturer GLM is another local unicorn, while Hacarus, a maker of innovative AI tools, raised a $12.22 million Series B in November 2020.

Ecosystem by the numbers

TOTAL EARLY STAGE FUNDING
$54 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$548 m
ECOSYSTEM VALUE
$424 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$13.68 bn
MEDIAN SEED ROUND
$886 k
GLOBAL AVG.
$480 k
MEDIAN SERIES A ROUND
$2.2 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$3 m
SOFT. ENGINEER SALARY
$45 k
GLOBAL AVG.
$44 k

Sub-sector Strengths

Advanced Manufacturing & Robotics

The presence of more than 30 large manufacturers, including Kyocera, Shimadzu, and Horiba, has accelerated the growth of the advanced manufacturing and robotics startups in the Kyoto region. Plug and Play Kyoto works with corporate partners to support more than 133 startups in the sub-sector, while Monozukuri Venture offers comprehensive support to hardware startups, including early-stage funding and a prototyping facility. Success stories include Atmoph, an IoT startup manufacturing the window-type smart display, that raised a total of $5 million in funding and a recent Series B round of $1.4 million in November 2020.

Life Sciences

The Kansai region (Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto metropolitan areas) is the heart of Japan’s biotech industry and home to biomedical clusters that include more than 300 life sciences companies, top medical institutions, and institutes for advanced research. Kyoto University is a mecca for regenerative medicine studies with Professor Shinya Yamanaka, currently the director of the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application(CiRA), who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his iPS study in 2012. Rege Nephro, a maker of renal disease therapeutics, and drug developer AlphaNavi Pharma both recently raised Series rounds, while Hacarus, a maker of AI tools for the medical field, has raised a total of $12 million, including an undisclosed round in April 2020.

Reasons to move your startup to Kyoto

Startup Visa program

The Startup Visa program provides support to foreign entrepreneurs to set up their business in Kyoto, including immigration assistance, free co-working space, a subsidy for company registration fee, and others.

Academic Powerhouse

There are more than 40 universities in Kyoto, accounting for 10% of Kyoto’s population. Kyoto University, one of the world’s top 30 universities according to the Shanghai Rankings, supports the startup ecosystem through a range of programs including incubation, venture funding, and industry-academia collaboration.

Presence of global firms

Companies such as Kyocera, Shimadzu, NIDEC, Omron, Horiba and NISSHA have their roots in Kyoto, and their presence on the global stage links new entrepreneurs based here to the business world outside the city.

Get connected

Are you interested in diving deeper into this ecosystem? Drop us a message. Our Ambassadors and Partners can plug you in.