ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon Twitter
SoftBank

SoftBank to build startup campus in Japan's Aichi Prefecture

Tech group also planning to launch fund to boost new domestic tech companies

SoftBank is building a sprawling startup campus in Japan's Aichi Prefecture in hopes of nurturing more unicorns. (Illustration courtesy of SoftBank) 

TOKYO -- SoftBank Group's telecommunications unit will launch one of Japan's biggest startup incubation centers to nurture more unicorns -- startups valued at $1 billion or more -- in the country, the company announced Tuesday.

SoftBank Corp. won a 14.4 billion yen ($131 million) contract from the Aichi prefectural government to design and build the facility, Station Ai, in Nagoya. The facility is scheduled to be completed in 2024 and will span 23,000 sq. meters across seven floors.

The center will be owned by the Aichi government and a newly established SoftBank subsidiary will pay 255 million yen for the right to manage it for 10 years. SoftBank aims to attract startups, including those from outside Japan, by using its global network of tech investments and offering perks such as access to a supercomputer, and services such as mentorship at the facility.

SoftBank will also set up a dedicated fund to invest in startups in Aichi, although a spokesperson said details such as fund size are still under consideration.

SoftBank CEO Junichi Miyakawa, left, and Aichi Gov. Hideaki Ohmura attend a signing ceremony the Station Ai startup campus. (Screenshot from SoftBank's website) 

SoftBank Group is one of the world's most aggressive technology investors, but its two Vision Funds do not have any investments in Japanese startups. Chief Financial Officer Yoshimitsu Goto said in an analyst call in August that he was saddened by the lack of investment opportunities in the country, even though Japan is the world's third-largest economy and ranked third in the gold medal count at the Tokyo Olympics.

"Japan was leading the world through its manufacturing industry, but it has stalled for the last 30 years," SoftBank Corp CEO Junichi Miyakawa said at a news conference on Tuesday. "Unfortunately, it is the result of being digitally behind."

Aichi, in central Japan, known for its manufacturing prowess and home to Toyota Motor, is especially under threat from rapidly emerging technologies such as electric vehicles and autonomous driving. The local government drew up a strategy to build a startup hub in 2018 and already runs incubation programs, including a partnership with China's Tsinghua University that helps Japanese startups enter China.

Aichi has also launched a startup support center ins a shared office space in Nagoya run by WeWork Japan, a joint venture between SoftBank Corp. and WeWork. It provides free office space at the WeWork building and mentorship to several dozen startups, although it is unclear whether a similar program will be provided for Station Ai. The Station Ai project was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends October 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to Nikkei Asia has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more