Japan

Kyoto

MEMBERS:
Kyoto Startup Ecosystem Promotion Council

"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 20 Asian Ecosystem in Knowledge
Top 30 Asian Ecosystem in Talent & Experience
Top 30 Asian Ecosystem in Performance

Highlights

Kyoto is both Japan’s ancient capital and a bustling university town, hosting 34 universities and a thriving researcher cluster. This combination of traditional craftsmanship and modern innovation makes for fertile soil for a successful startup ecosystem.


Startups in Kyoto benefit from a range of startup support organizations and events. Plug and Play Kyoto holds the Winter/Spring 2022 Kyoto Summit, a three-month accelerator program that supports domestic and international startups looking to partner with Japanese corporations. JETRO, together with the Japanese Government, offers top global accelerator programs and strongly supports the overseas expansion of Japanese startups. Fourteen Kyoto startups participated in the program, the second-largest number in Japan after Tokyo. Kyoto Smart City Expo is an international event that provides an opportunity to foster innovation.


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. Today, the company has raised more than $343 million over five rounds; the latest was an October 2021 $275 million Series C. In 2021, solid-state battery developer QuantumScape announced it will open a new R&D center in Kyoto Research Park to develop and manufacture its batteries for electric vehicles. FLOSFIA, a spin-off from a research of Kyoto University that is developing semiconductor devices for electric vehicles, raised a ¥1 billion ($8 million) Series E round in March 2021. Adtech startup AdInte raised ¥5.2 billion ($45.5 million) of venture funding in January 2022. Asia’s first fusion energy startup, Kyoto Fusioneering, has raised $18.6 million to date.

Ecosystem by the Numbers

TOTAL EARLY STAGE FUNDING
(2019H2-2021)
$39 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$687 m
ECOSYSTEM VALUE
(2019H2-2021)
$471 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$28.6 bn
MEDIAN SEED ROUND (2019H2-2021)
$574 k
GLOBAL AVG.
$671 k
MEDIAN SERIES A ROUND (2019H2-2021)
$1.9 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$4.7 m
SOFT. ENGINEER SALARY (2021)
$42 k
GLOBAL AVG.
$46 k
149 m
GLOBAL AVG.
11.3 bn
5
GLOBAL AVG.
101
Amount ($)
Count (#)

Exits

(2017-2021)
EARLY-STAGE FUNDING GROWTH TIER (2018/19 VS. 2020/21)
2
Calculated on a scale of
1 (lowest) to 10 (highest)
TOTAL VC FUNDING (2017-2021)
$275 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$4.5 bn
TIME TO EXIT (2017-2021)
10.6 years
GLOBAL AVG.
9.4 years

Sub-Sector Strengths

Advanced Manufacturing & Robotics

Monozukuri Ventures offers comprehensive support to hardware startups Kyoto University’s On-site Laboratory Initiative enables academic departments and centers in both medical research and materials science to establish laboratories in collaboration with overseas partners.

Life Sciences

The Kansai region (Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto metropolitan areas) is the heart of Japan’s biotech industry and home to more than 300 Life Sciences companies, top medical institutions, and institutes for advanced research. Kyoto University is home to the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application. The Kansai Regenerative Medicine Industrial Consortium coordinates collaborations between companies and startups and provides R&D facilities to support these projects. Biotech company Thyas raised a ¥2.1 billion ($16.9 million) Series B in February 2022.

Reasons to Move Your Startup to Kyoto

Academic Powerhouse

There are 34 universities in Kyoto, with students accounting for around 10% of the city’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. Five hundred enterprises and organizations are active within Kyoto Research Park. Many research institutions are clustered in Keihanna Science City. Kyoto’s universities and enterprises have produced 11 Nobel Prize-winning researchers. Many research institutions are clustered in Keihanna Science City.

Dedicated Startup City

The Keihanshin region, which includes Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe, was designated a Global Startup City by the Government of Japan. Many large companies including Kyocera, Shimadzu, NIDEC, Omron, Horiba, and NISSHA have roots in Kyoto, and their presence on the global stage links new entrepreneurs based in the ecosystem to the global business world.

Startup Visa Program

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

Selected Startup Organizations

Startup Genome Members

"The Kyoto Wisdom Industry Creation Center worked in concert with Startup Genome to showcase Kyoto’s thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Global Startup Ecosystem Report. It's great to see Kyoto rank as a Top 20 Asian Ecosystem in Knowledge, measured by research and patent activity and reflective of its great capacity in high innovatove technology development."
Stephan Kuester, Head of Ecosystem Strategy of Startup Genome

Key Ecosystem Players

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