Yokohama’s Startup Ecosystem Overview

Yokohama has been able to attract international companies and a talented workforce from Japan and other countries. The presence of major global companies in these industries has created a talent pool and significant investment into Research and Development which has spurred the growth of startups. Yokohama has been selected as one of four “Global Startup Cities” by the Japanese Government in 2020 and will be offered extended subsidies, eased regulations, and other support by the national government towards developing and enriching the startup ecosystem.

bird's eye view of Yokohama city beside wide body of water during daytime

Initiatives to support innovation and startups:

YOXO Box: Located in Kannai, one of Yokohama’s major business districts, YOXO Box offers mentoring, individual consultation with specialists in startup growth, space for exchange and business events focused on creating innovation. “YOXO Accelerator Program” is an intensive short-term (3-4 month) growth program for startup companies that takes place at YOXO BOX. This program provides participants with mentoring, seminars with highly specialized instructors, and opportunities for meetings with investors, other startups, and companies interested in engaging in open innovation with startups.

Yokohama Future Organization: Organization that supports innovation development and network support with the aim of building Yokohama into a city of the future. The initiative is driven by over 70 companies, universities and the city government. Yokohama Future Organization aims to develop innovation with people wishing to build new businesses in Yokohama that answer social issues in Japan and abroad, and all companies, educational institutions, or research institutes that agree with the Organization’s objectives and activities are welcome to join.

ITOP Yokohama: An innovation platform for collaboration and exchange, project implementation, and human resources development to spur the growth of new businesses in IoT, big data, AI, and robotics while capitalizing on Yokohama’s existing manufacturing and IT industries. In order to qualify for membership, companies/organizations/universities must be interested in engaging in open innovation to design new products or services using IoT, and either already work with SMEs or plan to involve SMEs in their prospective projects.

LIP. Yokohama: A platform intended to promote the collaboration of industry, government and academia to ensure a sustainable stream of innovation from Yokohama in the health and medical fields. Initiatives include creating innovative projects from the network of entrepreneurs and academic institutions, supporting SMEs and venture firms in commercialization efforts, and promoting the development of new technologies and products.

Yokohama City Global Offices: In an unprecedented initiative for a Japanese city, Yokohama has established several global offices to support international startups and companies make connections in Yokohama and succeed in entering the Japanese market. Currently, the City of Yokohama has offices in New York, Frankfurt, and Shanghai.

SmartCityX: SmartCityX is a global community of stage-agnostic startups representing numerous geographies and industry categories coming together with iconic Japanese corporate brands and industry thought-leaders – united by a common vision for helping make cities more livable, resilient, and sustainable. Yokohama is one of the cities taking part in this global innovation program.

Yokohama Hardtech Hub: A hub for hardware startups and companies that fosters hardtech innovations through co-creation activities, working with various organizations such as venture firms, local government bodies, partner corporations and educational institutions

Major industries:

closeup photo of white robot arm

IT, Life sciences, Mobility and Advanced Manufacturing are some of the major industries in Yokohama.

Major foreign IT companies in the city include ARM, Cadence Design Systems, Lenovo and Wipro. Apple chose Yokohama for its largest R&D center in Asia in 2017.

Beginning with the creation of Kanazawa Bio Park, Yokohama has invested in building its advanced R&D infrastructure in life sciences, including the attraction of major players such as RIKEN and the establishment of the Joint Graduate School of Medicine Program at the Yokohama City University.

Yokohama is home to major Japanese mobility and manufacturing companies like Nissan, Mazda and Panasonic as well as global companies such as Bosch and Adient. The manufacturing sector in the city is ranked fourth in Japan.

Skilled workforce:

group of people workers walking

There are 157 academic and R&D institutions in Yokohama, a number second only to Tokyo (2016). Global companies like Apple YTC, LG Yokohama Innovation Center, and Bosch Japan have chosen Yokohama as the site for major R&D centers. Universities in the region contribute to the research and development in various industries and collaborate with private sector organizations.

Yokohama has a high concentration of engineers with a ratio that is among the highest in Japan - 9.3% as of 2017. Yokohama has an established educational infrastructure that produces a workforce specialized in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Of the 26 universities in the city, nine are known for STEM programs. These universities collaborate in research with public research institutions and private companies in the region, as well as universities overseas in advanced R&D projects. In 2018, Yokohama City University inaugurated the School of Data Science, the first of its kind in the Greater Tokyo Area.

Co-working spaces:

laptop computer beside coffee mug G Innovation Hub Yokohama: Directly connected to Yokohama Kannai Station, a shared office and coworking space that aims to bring innovation to business.

WeWork Ocean Gate: Co-working space by global co-working space provider WeWork in Minatomirai in central Yokohama.

THE BAYS: Operated by the Yokohama DeNA Baystars (the city’s baseball team!), this coworking space and shared office was designed through the fusion of “Creativity” and “Sports” but the space is open to workers and creators of all kinds.

Main Strengths of the Yokohama Startup Ecosystem
    • Office rent in Yokohama is around 40% cheaper than in Tokyo.

    • One of the most international cities in Japan with the presence of global companies and startups.

    • High concentration of cutting edge research and development facilities.

    • Convenient location near major economic hubs in Japan and international airports.

    • Yokohama is the fourth-best city in all of Asia in terms of quality of living according to Mercer.

Ecosystem Milestones

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