How is the Japanese Startup ecosystem different from Europe?

Trusted Corporation
5 min readSep 7, 2021

In the “Inspiration/Innovation powered by Venture Café Tokyo” seminar held in Nagoya on June 25, Fariza Abidova, CEO & Founder at Trusted Corporation shared insights about entrepreneurship in Japan and introduced the European start-up ecosystem in comparison to Japan.

From the left Ryusuke Komura, Program Director at Venture Café Tokyo; Igor Voroshilov, Founder and CEO of LikePay Inc.; Fariza Abidova CEO of Trusted Corporation; and Nick Luscombe at the Nagoya Connect event.

Here are the main take-aways from her talk with Nick Luscombe.

In comparison to Japan, Europe is ahead in terms of startup investments
Working close to the European Start-up ecosystem, Fariza Abidova pointed out that the main differences between Japan and Europe are often evident, especially in terms of startup investment, where Europe is further ahead.
But there aren’t many differences in terms of Open Innovation as the operating industries are the same (manufacturing, automotive).

Japan is increasingly shifting towards the digital transformation
For what concerns company registration and speed of bureaucratic procedures — which still require physical presence, there is plenty of room for improvement in Japan.
With the upset caused by Covid, things have started to change: meetings moved online, people started to get used to working remotely. This is only the beginning of the digital transformation.
Moreover, Japan’s mindset is very customer-oriented: services are expected to be of the highest quality in the world, admitting no room for mistakes. Due to such high customer expectations in every industry, drastic changes are very difficult to tolerate. Therefore, embracing a fully digital way of living can be risky if not done properly.

Fariza Abidova, CEO of Trusted Corporation and Nick Luscombe at the Nagoya Connect event.

The new generation is increasingly interested in founding a start-up
Being a lecturer at Kobe University, Fariza came to notice that students’ interests have recently shifted from finding ways to learn English in order to work for global companies, towards entrepreneurial matters: they are curious about how to start their own company, how to find trustworthy co-founders or how to prevent risks.

“My answer to them is to not plan too much and take action, try, and learn for themselves. Starting your own business is so unique: it is a result of your background, your story, experience, your unique ideas, therefore even asking advice from the most successful entrepreneur in the world won’t be as efficient as following your ideal business model. No one else can know your project better than yourself”.

Developing all technologies in-house is not realistic for large companies
Until now, the Japanese economy was run by big companies, which were hiring many scientists and creating opportunities. However, to date, the economic landscape is going through such a change that leads even the biggest companies with a big brand and resources, to have to look for niche technology outside: large companies shouldn’t innovate alone, depending only on their own resources.
Developing all technologies in-house is not realistic. It is a costly procedure in terms of money and time, which would lead competitors to move faster in the market and gain a competitive advantage.
Companies need to adopt an open innovation model.

Governments and organizations are taking actions to support sustainable smart cities projects
The concept of “smart city” is constantly changing and evolving with our environment and, at the same time, every company attributes a different meaning to it.
However, the recent trends share a similar goal for cities to foster and develop comfort, well-being, and mostly — now more than ever, green. Sustainability and environment are increasingly becoming the main concern for younger generations. Governments and organizations are feeling the pressure from this demand and are taking action on carbon neutrality and SDGs overall.
When considering smart cities, it is fundamental to not leave aside the human component. It must be borne in mind that Smart cities are built for individuals, for social connections, for work-life balance, and a meaningful lifestyle.

People’s habits are changing and so are cities: Companies need to re-think their innovation strategies through start-ups.
Nowadays, in order to access a good level of education and work, we have to live in big cities but small apartments, which implies having to tolerate noise pollution, traffic, and other downsides.
On the other hand, living in the countryside means tolerating the restrictions given by limited mobility and slow transportation. Smart city technologies can enable people to have a choice of freedom to live and work anywhere.

“Young people living in big cities already don’t buy cars, they are not needed because public transport infrastructure is getting better”.

This has triggered car manufacturing companies to rethink their strategy and revise their business models to adapt to new market needs. To do this, they gather ideas from start-ups.
In this regard, planning for innovation is fundamental.
Open Innovation is a long project that requires constant progress and long-term planning and Japan is the perfect environment for doing this business.

Innovation is fundamental for a change to a better society.

“What excites me every day when I wake up is that I am actively designing a society that I want to live in. The feeling that you can actively change the world for the better, drives me and pushes me to keep going and not give up. Lastly, and most important: If you have an idea of what you wish to do, even if you don’t have any detailed plans, start working on it now. Do not waste your time waiting for the perfect conditions” , shared Fariza.

Trusted helps Japanese and European large companies with their open innovation journey, from organizational readiness for open innovation with Innovation Planner, to finding the right technology and partner, as well as communication and cultural bridge. We can assist you in your search with our Startup Finder service, which finds the ideal partner in a detailed and tailored search through 10,000 of available technologies and services, both in Japan and Europe.

Contact us now for a free consultation at or learn more about our philosophy.



Trusted Corporation

Trusted helps large corporations and tech startups accelerate innovation by analyzing, researching and consulting cross border/cross industry collaborations.