February 03, 2023
JETRO co-hosted the Danish startup event TechBBQ and the first spin-off event in Japan, TechBBQ Sapporo, in Sapporo, Japan, on January 27. A total of more than 180 people from 13 countries, including startups, venture capitalists (VCs), accelerators, and support organizations, attended the event.
The panel discussion titled "Small Ecosystem, Big Potential" featured Yamato Nakamoto, Chief of Startup Promotion, City of Sapporo; Mette Hoberg, a startup working to create an ecosystem in Aarhus, Denmark's second-largest city; and Kathryn Hoffman, a startup in the same city. The panelists were Mette Hoberg, representative of Aarhus, and Nicole Leblanc of Woven Capital, who discussed the theme of ecosystem formation in regions far from large cities. They pointed out that small ecosystems have characteristics in common with both Scandinavia and Hokkaido, such as the fact that the distance between organizations is greater and collaboration is easier, and that the attractiveness of local resources can be an advantage for foreign investors. They also mentioned the importance of cooperating with and complementing each other's ecosystems, both domestic and international, and agreed that initiatives such as this one will help strengthen both ecosystems.
A total of eight companies competed in the pitch event in two categories: domestic companies aiming for overseas markets and overseas companies working to enter the Hokkaido market. The winners, respectively, were MaWaRoute, a platform for commercial facilities that combines IoT (Internet of Things) infrastructure and NFT art, and Tryp.com, an itinerary proposal service using artificial intelligence (AI).
Event participants commented that it was a great opportunity to have lively discussions directly with entrepreneurs, investors, journalists, and accelerators from diverse countries, including Scandinavia.
Mr. Nakamoto, Chief of the Sapporo City Office, commented, "I felt the significance and great potential of holding a global event from a regional city like Sapporo. There are many hints for creating an ecosystem unique to local cities, and we hope to increase the number of people involved and expand our efforts in the future.
In 2020, Sapporo and Hokkaido were selected as one of Japan's eight hub cities by the Cabinet Office for the "formation of a startup ecosystem that ranks with the rest of the world," and are working to expand the startup subsidy system, conduct administrative open innovation projects, and proactively disseminate information in English to overseas entrepreneurs.