[:en]On November 29 (Tuesday), a group of entrepreneurially minded GIGA students attended an information evening about Keio Shonan Fujisawa Campus Innovation Village (SFC-IV). SFC-IV is a collaboration between Keio University, Kanagawa Prefecture, Fujisawa City, and SMRJ (Small/Medium Enterprise Support, Japan), an organization that provides business incubation services for new business start-ups and entrepreneurs.
The session started with Dr. Goi Hoe Chin (Ph. D, in Media and Governance and senior researcher in Keio University) introducing different types of university based ventures. He explained that the number of university based ventures in Japan has increased dramatically since the year 2000, and that as of 2015 there were 1749 university based ventures, as indicated by data from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in Japan. University based ventures are an appealing way to start a venture, as they can benefit from research and expertise available at the university, and they tend to be well supported by both government and universities. Dr. Goi also talked about the subgroup of the Mitakai alumni network that focuses on investing in businesses and providing resources for students.
Following on from Dr. Goi, Masashi Ueda presented a detailed introduction to SFC-IV. SFC-IV offers shared and private office space, high speed internet, server rooms, workshops, meeting rooms, a relaxation room, and even shower facilities. There are also several experienced management support staff on hand who offer business plan and finance planning support, public subsidy application support, support with establishing a company, and evaluation of business ideas and market needs, as well as advice on how to pitch your business in order to obtain venture funding. Whilst there are some obstacles that need to be overcome by foreigners who wish to start a business in Japan, SFC-IV can offer practical advice and support, even for undergraduate students who have a business that exists only as an idea.
What surprised the students who attended this session the most was the low cost of accessing SFC-IV, with shared office space available for just 3000 yen/project/month (which covers the rental fees of up to 3 card keys with unlimited number of project members), and the fact that there are undergraduate students at SFC already trying to get their projects off the ground. One such student (Shibata-san) was in attendance, and he shared his experience using the resources available to him at SFC-IV while starting his food truck business.
Keio University News;