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Japan's unicorns gain foothold from AI to materials: Nikkei survey

Startups see strong growth but still lag behind overseas peers

Tokyo-based AI developer Preferred Networks maintained its top spot in Nikkei's 2021 "NEXT Unicorn Survey." (Source photo by Kotaro Igarashi) 

TOKYO -- Japan's roster of startups worth more than 100 billion yen ($884.4 million) doubled to six in 2021, according to estimates in Nikkei's 2021 "NEXT Unicorn Survey."

Novel companies backed by advanced technology, such as artificial-intelligence-assisted data analysis and new eco-friendly materials, did particularly well. Overseas investors have also stepped up funding of new players, fueling growth and valuations.

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