Japan is well recognized for its contributions to technology and engineering. Companies such as Sony, Toshiba, and JVC have been a mainstay in the country and on a global scale. However, Japan’s population — which has reached a median age of 46 years — is affecting new developments. According to experts, the country is in desperate demand for new engineers and technical talent.
This lack of innovation and talent is what Naotaka Nishiyama (age 33) aims to change with a new platform, which is designed to encourage collaboration with other countries. In particular, his organization Tech Japan is fostering partnerships between Japanese technology companies and experts in India.
According to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) in India, about 1.5 million engineers graduate and are ready for the job market every year in the country. Tech Japan plans to match those graduates with tech startups.
Naotaka has worked at Deloitte (a multi-national professional services network) and Suntory (a global consumer product company), and travelled the world extensively. He credits his jobs and travel experiences to a fairly recent understanding: Japanese technology is part of nearly every country, yet Japan rarely imports global talent to evaluate new perspectives or encourage greater innovation.
“If you see the startup world, it operates with global talent and the success of the western world is because of that talent transfer,” he said. “I realized there was an occasion for Japan in this play, too.”
Once the idea hit, Naotaka took about a year to thoroughly plan out a business model for his “talent exchange” company, establishing Tech Japan in February of 2019. The idea was a simple one: bring Japanese startups to India while recruiting talent from the top engineering universities to go to Japan.
Naotaka is supported in his quest by Yukio Takeyari, who previously served as the managing director, Sony India Software Centre. Takeyari has over 30 years of expertise in R&D and software development for customer products, and PC and network services, and has served in various management and leadership positions in Sony Corporation.
Since April 2014, he has been chair of the NASSCOM Japan Council, helping promote the India-Japan relationship in the IT industry.
“I knew big companies would not be [sold on the] idea, but startups would love to operate with global talent,” Naotaka said.
Collaboration in action
The market for engineering talent is on the rise in Japan but there is a problem. In general, traditional Japanese companies are not yet ready to welcome the opinion of foreigners.
“On the other hand, Japanese tech startups and big venture companies are rapidly growing and ready to collaborate with foreigners,” Naotaka said. “Until recently, there weren’t solutions to match Indian talent with Japanese tech businesses.” Tech Japan is ready to change that. Japan is known for advanced technologies, including robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence and Tech Japan has decided to focus on these areas.
Essentially, Tech Japan is a platform for students from top universities to identify opportunities to work with Japanese startups. The platform gives internship programs and full-time job opportunities in Japan.
A student, graduate, or tech professional must first register on the Tech Japan site for consideration. “If you are a student, you can arrive to Japan to work as an intern,” explained Naotaka. “It will surely increase your horizons. If you are a grad student, you can be contracted as a full-time worker and lead global business or invent great commodities together.”
As a set of guidelines, Tech Japan works with startups that are:
1. Working to solve social and/or sustainability issues
2. Using cutting-edge technologies
3. Offering a diverse and inclusive work environment
“We encourage information exchange and give possibilities to Indian talent to solve big social problems with Japanese technologies,” said Naotaka.
But the company chooses only top Japanese tech companies to unite students from top colleges in India. For example, the majority of Tech Japan’s selected startups have been certified by the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry in Japan (as “J-Start-up Companies”), which requires rigorous examinations.
A win-win idea
After a successful start, Tech Japan announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with India’s top engineering school, IIT Hyderabad.
“We believe that this transaction will take our partnership with IIT-Hyderabad to the next level and promote better collaboration between academia and business,” said Naotaka.
Tech Japan aims to provide more opportunities for IIT Hyderabad students to interact and partner with Japanese companies, and says it will organize lectures and training days, develop a laboratory at IIT Hyderabad, create a course on Japanese technology, foster R&D, and provide internship opportunities.
Tech Japan’s business model involves charging the company for taking engineers from India. However, it is too early to report expected revenue.
Filed Under: Blog entry, Tech Articles