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UTEC Celebrates 20th Anniversary

On Thursday, May 30, 2024, we UTEC celebrated our 20th Anniversary at the Ito International Academic Research Center (Ito Hall), the University of Tokyo.

The ceremony began with opening remarks from President Teruo Fujii of the University of Tokyo. He highlighted UTEC’s significant contributions to the creation of societal value through knowledge and support for startups, both of which align with the university’s goals. He also expressed hope that UTEC would continue its support for startups, particularly those emerging from the University of Tokyo, as the university approaches its 150th anniversary in 2027. Fujii emphasized the University of Tokyo's aspiration to collaborate with UTEC to build a better future society over the next 20 years, and even over the next 150 years.

Consequently, UTEC CEO Tomotaka Goji delivered a speech titled “UTEC's 20 Years of Progress and Future Initiatives,” which also featured UTEC's special 20th anniversary video. The presentation covered the following key points:

  • ■ Over the past 20 years, we UTEC have consistently invested in startups from the seed stage through growth, focusing on three core strategies: prominent science and technology, strong teams, and addressing global markets and humankind challenges. We have raised approximately 85 billion yen from mainly institutional investors, managing five venture capital funds. 

  • ■ We have collaborated with around 150 domestic and overseas startups. By our 15th anniversary, 10 of these startups had gone public, and 11 had been successfully acquired or merged. These numbers have ever since doubled, leading to 20 IPOs and 20 M&As. UTEC aims to continue supporting startups globally to maximize their business impact. 

  • ■ The startup and venture capital environment in Japan has significantly changed in three key areas over the past 20 years: 

    • ・There has been remarkable increases in startups, including deep tech ventures, and the venture capital firms investing in them. More people are now interested in engaging with these startups. Since 2004, UTEC has worked to increase the number and impact of successful deep tech startups and has had over 100 managerial talents dive into its portfolio companies.

    • ・Venture capital firms and startups have become significantly global. It is now common for startups to expand their business globally, forming multinational teams from an early stage. This global approach has become crucial for Japanese startups and venture capital firms more than ever. UTEC supports startups' global business expansion, with activities in the US, UK, India, Singapore, and various African countries.

    • ・Startups and venture capital firms based on deep tech are now beginning to give benefits back to universities. The sustainable development of the deep tech ecosystem requires not only social implementation of science and technology, but also the reinvestment of successful outcomes into universities, to foster the next generation of science, technology and talents to innovate. UTEC has supported university research and talent development through various donations, including the UTEC UTokyo FSI Research Grant, which supports world-class fundamental research by young researchers.

    • ■ On this 20th Anniversary, we would like to share the above changes with all our stakeholders, and aim to accelerate and sustain these changes across Japan, working together with all of you.

    • Three panel discussions followed: The first panel, "UTEC in the Japanese Venture Capital Industry," featured Toru Akaura, General Partner at Incubate Fund, and Kaoru Ohnishi, Executive Officer at Nissay Asset Management, moderated by UTEC Chairperson Keiji Mogi. The panelists shared their perspectives on the significance of UTEC in Japan's venture capital industry and alternative investments.

    • The second panel, "Researchers Connecting Academia and Society," was moderated by UTEC COO/Partner/Managing Director Noriaki Sakamoto. Panelists included former Professor Masayuki Inaba at the Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo, and Professor Kenji Tanaka at the Graduate School of Engineering, the University of Tokyo , and Professor Haruko Takeyama at the Graduate School of Advanced Science and Engineering, Waseda University. They discussed how academia-startup collaborations should be structured and the significance of deep tech. The discussion deeply covered the evolutions of robotics, AI/data science, and life sciences research over the past 20 years and their predictions over the coming 20 years.

    • The final panel, "Global Collaboration in Venture Capital," was moderated by UTEC CEO Goji. Panelists included Amelia Armour, Partner at Amadeus Capital Partners, Karthik Reddy, Co-founder & Partner at Blume Ventures, and Joseph Jeong, Venture Partner atARCH Venture Partners. They discussed venture capital collaborations globally beyond Europe, Asia and the US, from the perspectives of venture capital firms from the UK, India, and the US. One notable comment was regarding the importance of Japanese startups receiving support from globally connected Japanese venture capital firms, like UTEC. 

    • Finally, a pitch contest concluded the event, featuring 12 UTEC portfolio companies. Each management presented their business ideas and visions to the audience, who finally voted for Kepler, Corp. as the winner of this contest, receiving a trophy and a 1 million yen prize from Goji. 

    • At the subsequent networking event, Professor Masatoshi Ishikawa, former Director General of the Division of University Corporate Relations, the University of Tokyo, and current President of Tokyo University of Science, offered a toast. The networking was well-attended by entrepreneurs, university and research institution representatives, institutional investors, financial institutions, media, corporations, and venture capitalists.

    • Additionally, eight UTEC portfolio companies (Algal Bio, Cellusion, Eureka Robotics, Hashport, Obviously AI, TriOrb, United Immunity, VividQ) showcased themselves in booths near the main venue, providing attendees with hands-on experiences and deeper insights into their technologies, products and services.

  • To commemorate UTEC's 20th Anniversary, a special website has been launched. It features UTEC’s history and progress.
    Please visit the site here