Startup Ecosystem

04. Innovations Born in Osaka

By Startups

SAKURA internet
SAKURA internet
Internet Infrastructure Service
SAKURA Internet is an Internet infrastructure service company, which came into existence when Kunihiro Tanaka started managing a server by himself, then rented it out to friends aged just 18. The company was founded in Osaka 1999, then started renting server at a tenth of the market price at that time, slashing costs. To date, the company’s business has expanded with new services rolled out in various fields such as IoT, building on their experiences and insights, alongside server rental.
akippa
akippa
“akippa”, Parking Reservation App
“akippa” is a parking reservation app, allowing people to find places to reserve and park in, in time slots as short as 15 minutes and has become one of the most successful sharing economy services in Japan. Owners of private houses, apartment buildings or company properties with unused spaces can register the sites with akippa for parking, which users can then find, reserve and pay online, whereupon owners are remunerated for usage accordingly.
Light Touch Technology
Light Touch Technology
Non-invasive Blood Glucose Level Sensor
Light Touch Technology has developed a device to measure blood glucose levels by holding a finger for 5 seconds to a specific laser light. Currently, diabetic patients have to prick their finger to get blood to measure their blood glucose level, which involves stress, the threat of infection and the cost of disposing of what is medical waste. This needle-free device will significantly ease the burden on patients and lower the hurdle to measure the blood glucose level, helping efforts to detect diabetes in its early stages or promote its prevention. We aim to help reduce medical costs exceeding 1.2 trillion yen currently spent by Japan.
Microwave Chemical
Microwave Chemical
Microwave Chemical Process
Microwave Chemical Co., Ltd. has become the first company in the world to found a microwave mass chemical factory, a feat previously considered impossible to achieve. For over a century, chemical companies have relied on the “heat and pressure” method for manufacturing, requiring significant land and energy. This new method will “save energy, boost performance and require smaller factories” and now is capable of producing new materials which could not be produced with the conventional methods. This new manufacturing method will be implemented in various production processes such as medical, electrical components, foods and fuel.
MARUI-Plugin
MARUI-Plugin
“MARUI” a plug-in for “Maya”, a 3DCG software
MARUI-PlugIn Inc. has developed “MARUI”, a plug-in tool for “Maya”, 3D animation software, which allows users to create 3DCG intuitively and quickly within a VR space. Allowing up to 60% fewer working hours, when compared to conventional work methods on a computer screen and streamlining dialog with clients and team members to share images and check qualities more than ever before.
PLEN Robotics
PLEN Robotics
“PLEN Cube”, a hand-sized AI assistant
PLEN Cube is a hand-sized AI assistant robot developed by PLEN Robotics. With facial authentication, voice recognition and interactions through various forms of movement will pave the way to streamline reception services, offer labor saving or a fully-automated service when taking orders and payments in service industries. All customer data will be stored and managed as a marketing tool to be used. The low installation fee involved aims to make a variety of technologies accessible to counter the problems of a lack of workforce.
ArchiTek
ArchiTek
“Edge AI Processor” – Compact and with Low Power Consumption
This “Edge AI Processor”, featuring ongoing development of the startup’s original architecture, can process a range of data and AI simultaneously, offering high power performance, compactness, cost-effectiveness and low latency, which make it possible to build it into the edge devices – something that was difficult to do for existing devices such as GPU to replicate. Intelligent edge devices through AI and image processing will be adapted for smart city and smart agriculture apps. Sample LSI chips to be released in 2020.
FREEPLUS
FREEPLUS
Inbound Business beyond Travel Agency
FREEPLUS entered the inbound tourist business in 2010, since which time it has expanded its business on inbound tours, hotels, and regional revitalization. Their inbound business has offered travel plans, transportation in Japan, accommodation, dining, tour guides and many other aspects specifically tailored to tours in Japan for foreign tourists and has connections as a globally-trusted land operator with over 1,000 companies from 40 different nations. FREEPLUS manages two hotels in Osaka and one in Fukuoka and is planning to open a hotel in Sapporo next spring.
Review
Review
Business Map – macci
Review Co., Ltd. is the company developing and providing a digital business map tool using real-time data collected by 620 investigators. It updates information on constructing buildings, parking lots, job vacancy advertisements in stores, newly opening stores, facilities, vacant land and empty lots within the 23 wards of Tokyo, the 24 wards of Osaka and all roads in the areas. It carries over 500 thousand sets of big data that are usable for various businesses such as real estate or ad agencies.

By Pioneering Enterprises

Sharp
Sharp
First Cellphone with a Camera
Sharp Corporation, the company that invented mechanical pencils, was also the first company to release a camera-equipped cellphone for mass-market back in 2000. Although the camera was only attached to the rear of the device, a mirror was installed next to the lense to help users take self-portraits as if the company predicted the future “selfie” trend. The cellphone with a camera was a big hit and naturally moved us to start taking and sharing pictures in our daily lives. Later, these photo-taking habits triggered the rocketing growth of social media such as Instagram.
Genroku Industry
Genroku Industry
World’s First Conveyor Belt Sushi
The first conveyor belt sushi shop was opened in 1958 in Osaka by Yoshiaki Shiraishi, the founder of Genroku Sangyo K.K. After getting the idea from a beer factory’s conveyor belt, it took him a further decade to develop the “merry-go-round” serving table which transformed the world of sushi from a luxury item to something all could enjoy. The conveyor belt sushi shop become a favorite among people when opening at EXPO ’70 in Osaka, establishing a settled trend and way to enjoy sushi. It is a feature of Japanese culture now well-known worldwide.
OMRON Corporation
OMRON Corporation
The world’s first unmanned train station system
The world’s first unmanned train station system, consisting of an automatic ticket gate that reads tickets and commuter passes instantly, etc., was developed by Omron in collaboration with Japanese railway companies. It was introduced at Hankyu Kitasenri Station in Osaka in 1967. At that time, commuter pass users formed long queues during the rush hour and people were often injured, because of incidents such as falling down due to crowds. The automatic ticket gates, which were widely used in Europe and the United States, could not read commuter passes and the processing speed was as low as 10 to 20 people per minute. This new system could process passengers at a speed of 60 to 80 people per minute and was later awarded the IEEE Milestone Award from the United States.
NISSIN FOODS
NISSIN FOODS
Instant Ramen Noodles
The history of instant ramen noodles, which supports the diet of many young people who pursue their dreams, like entrepreneurs in the world today, started when Nissin Food’s founder, Momofuku Ando, invented “Chicken Ramen” in Osaka in 1958. After that, Momofuku released “Cup Noodle” in 1971, inspired by an incident where the local buyer put Chicken Ramen in a coffee cup and poured hot water into the cup during a business trip to the United States. As a food innovation that has evolved with time, it remains as a product loved across all borders.