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Winning co-operation: Send out the message to emerging foreign players

03/27/2019 Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun

While stagnation in the field of basic research is being discussed in Japanese industry, companies, universities and research institutions are engaged in various research and development projects on interesting themes. At the same time, Japanese companies are accelerating their efforts to create innovations through business collaboration with start-ups in Japan and abroad.

Some major companies invest a lot of budget and resources in departments in charge of new business development in order to acquire the technologies and solutions they need for their own businesses. They then turn to leading venture capitalists and accelerators (organisations that help start-ups grow) around the world to compile a list of start-ups under their umbrella or in partnership with them.

Last year, I visited several start-up communities abroad and had the opportunity to speak with many start-up executives.

I explained to them that start-ups are becoming increasingly valuable as business partners in Japan today, and that I see business opportunities expanding in the future.

As an example, I mentioned the name of a major Japanese manufacturer that has the world's top share of the market for products that utilise cutting-edge technology and is well known to many people in Japan.

When we did, the response from most of the business owners was muted.

They said that if their companies were to receive business partnership offers from around the world, they would prioritise doing business with Western companies that were better known than the Japanese manufacturer, whether or not they had a long history, and that they themselves were familiar with their business and development themes.

However, when I explained the case of the Japanese manufacturer's research and development, the managers instantly became interested.

This shows that foreign start-ups generally do not seem to have up-to-date information on Japanese companies and business trends in Japan.

I believe that in order for Japanese companies to overcome this situation, they need to actively transmit information to the global market beyond geographical and linguistic constraints.

In order to appeal to potential users and partners overseas, I believe that we have reached a stage where all members of the company involved in the business must not only have English language skills and cross-cultural understanding, but also learn communication techniques that appeal to the emotions of people overseas with different values and stimulate their interest and motivation.

Business people in Japanese companies are good at giving methodical presentations about the functions of their products and services and the nature of their business. However, they are not used to communicating their pride and enthusiasm for the project they are working on. And even less so when it comes to doing it in English.

I believe that it is effective for members of top management and below to communicate to the world through short speeches and pitches in a variety of business settings to raise awareness of their field and the significance of their projects.

Many Japanese companies are working on interesting business development projects with passion. If they can continue to communicate this to the world, they will eventually be approached by promising overseas start-ups. If this happens, the 'inbound demand' in business cooperation will become more active.

Born in Uzbekistan. Graduated from Samarkand State University of Foreign Languages with a degree in English and Japanese linguistics. SOPHYS, a human resources development consultancy, and Trusted, a global business development support company. Trusted, a global business development support company, in Tokyo.


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