Why do Japanese companies fail to partner with startups through Accelerators & Incubators?

Many Japanese companies invest in venture capital funds or sponsor startup accelerators or incubators, hoping to include open innovation into their business strategy. Yet, many are left without any tangible results. Why? Here we explain why trying to partner with startups via these routes often ends up being sunken yen for Japanese companies and what they can do instead.

What are startup accelerators & incubators?

Seed accelerators, or startup accelerators, are programs funded by corporations to get startups and business ideas off the ground. The programs offer mentorship and other educational components over a fixed period of time, usually culminating in a pitch day when prize winners are selected. Accelerators focus on specific industries, e.g. biotech, fintech, or medtech. The selection process is highly competitive to justify the considerable investment companies make in accelerator programs, in hope of meeting a startup to collaborate with as accelerators generally take no equity.

Why do Japanese companies fail to partner with startups through accelerators & incubators?

While accelerators and incubators seem like perfect places to target startups specializing in defined industries, many Japanese companies fail to make their investment, sometimes in the million-dollar range, worthwhile. Why is that? Let’s look at the typical pitfalls of the process in Japan, as per interviews conducted with our clients and industry players.

The more successful path to partnering with a startup

Collaborating with startups on open innovation is hot topic in Japan now, yet often the results produced don’t extend beyond lifting the company’s image. However, a well-planned and executed startup search and collab can mean real growth for your company, a potential that shouldn’t be wasted.

Plan well

The first pitfall here is lack of planning. Without narrowing down a specific industry, research area, project goals and other criteria about your ideal partner, you are throwing money at a needle in a haystack instead of systematically searching for it.

Divide investment strategy & partnership strategies

Investing in a VC fund can be one part of your strategy, but finding partners should be a separate process from that.

Support for your company on open innovation with startups globally

Trusted Inc. offers help from assessing your situation to preparing you for business collaboration, finding a suitable startup partner all the way to the negotiation process. We offer an “innovation readiness check” that helps you understand if your company is currently in the best position to take on an open innovation project, or what pieces are still missing to get you there. Further, we fully support corporations in the process of collaborating with startups — from finding the right project, the right startup partner to negotiations and executing the project.
We support your team with planning and scenario building, while also bringing in outside experts and consultants to ensure the expertise is tailored to your needs, while saving you time, money, and developing human resources in the process.

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