11 STORY Institution for a Global Society

There is no end to human growth.



Institution for a Global Society, Inc. (IGS) has a unique vision of "Inspiring self actualization through assessment and education." In the field of evaluation, IGS provides two solutions, namely "GROW360" for HR development and recruitment in companies, and "Ai GROW" for educational institutions. These solutions utilize data gathered from peer evaluations. Additionally, IGS offers educational content such as "Dx GROW" for companies and "GROW Academy" for educational institutions. It is noteworthy that "GROW360" is highly acclaimed for its pioneering work in the field of HRTech and has been featured as a case study at Harvard Business School. The founder of IGS, Mr. Fukuhara, is a former banker who achieved success in the financial industry, becoming the youngest managing director at the age of 35 at Barclays Global Investors (now BlackRock), the world's largest asset management firm. Why did a successful finance professional who had an influential global presence initiate a business in the HRTech and EdTech fields? We had the opportunity to interview Mr. Fukuhara and asked him to share his thoughts.


SECTION01 : Utilizing AI for Unbiased Assessment



Utilizing AI for Unbiased Assessment

IGS uses two distinct technologies to evaluate individuals: the Implicit Association Test (IAT) and AI to correct evaluation bias. The IAT identifies latent temperament and bias, while the AI corrects evaluation bias in 360-degree evaluations. How will the use of these technologies transform human resources and education?

In 2013, IGS began collaborating with Dr. Toru Fujimoto and Dr. Mitsuru Kimura from the University of Tokyo Graduate School's Research Center for Social Information Education to research evaluation methods. We found that a person's temperament, or latent personality, is a crucial factor in evaluating their abilities, in addition to their competencies and skills. To measure temperament, IGS developed a technology utilizing the Implicit Association Test (IAT), which was previously used for games and other applications.

However, bias is inherent in the evaluation of temperament, competencies, and skills. 360-degree evaluations and evaluations done by others are especially prone to bias, making it difficult to conduct fair evaluations. To counter this issue, we at IGS developed a technology that analyzes evaluator input logs and evaluation ability to reduce bias and increase evaluation accuracy.

The first implementation of these technologies was GROW360, which at that time was a support tool for new graduate recruitment. Students downloaded the application and received evaluations from people who knew them well. The technology detected anomalies in input speed to reduce bias. For example, if there were abnormal values in input speed, it was deemed highly probable that fraud had been committed as the person may have borrowed a friend's smartphone and input the information themselves. The companies also provided feedback on the applicants' data which in turn was used as training data to improve evaluation accuracy.

The evaluation mechanism originally designed to support recruitment is currently being expanded in two directions. The first direction involves the evaluation of internal human resources, where many companies are now utilizing the system not only for young employees but for all employees, including management. The second direction involves the evaluation in the field of education, specifically high school and junior high school students. As of the end of September 2022, over 250 schools in Japan and overseas have implemented the system for evaluation purposes.

The expanded use in both evaluation directions has led to the accumulation of evaluation data for 860,000 individuals across the nation as of the end of September 2022, encompassing individuals from kindergarteners to managers. With the collection of more data, the system's accuracy will continue to improve. Our ultimate goal is to create a society where individuals can sustainably learn throughout their lives. By collecting and analyzing lifelong evaluation and education history data, we aim to contribute to individuals' growth from a long-term perspective.

SECTION02 : Crisis looming over the declining competitiveness of Japanese human resources.



Crisis looming over the declining competitiveness
of Japanese human resources.

In response to this crisis, Mr. Fukuhara, who had previously worked in the financial industry, took a leap of faith and founded IGS in 2010. Initially, he focused on developing a tutoring school business with the goal of fostering global human resources. Why did he then decide to shift his focus towards making a broader impact in the fields of human resources and education?

I became aware of the decline in the competitiveness of Japanese human resources during my time in the global financial industry. I believe the cause of this decline is a society that places a heavy emphasis on academic background, particularly in entrance examinations that only ask questions with correct answers. This leads to students not acquiring the ability to solve problems for which there are no correct answers, putting Japan at a disadvantage compared to other countries with more open-ended entrance exams that requires students to mobilize their critical thinking and logical reasoning ability.

With the awareness of this problem, I started a cram school business in 2010. When I become involved in the education field, I realized that deep self-awareness is the core of education and that without it, it is difficult to face problems that have no correct answers. I then researched what kind of technology was being used in this area by talking to friends in New York and Boston, but found that there was nothing outstanding in Japan or even overseas. As a result, I decided to do my own research and started developing a bias-free evaluation system with professors from The University of Tokyo in 2013. I transferred a part of my cram school business and turned the helm to HRTech & EdTech.

The tool was created in 2016, and IGS was able to finance the development of their bias-free evaluation system with some profits from the sale of their cram school business, but they also needed additional funding to expand globally. Then, an acquaintance introduced me to UTEC. I recall the day of our first encounter. At that time, our office was a small room in an apartment building, and I was concerned that they might feel uneasy due to the lack of space. However, Mr. Sakamoto and Mr. Yamamoto, who visited us, demonstrated no concern about the cramped space. They recognized the value of the accumulation of evaluations by others and the techniques to eliminate bias, and impressed me with their impartial approach. It was then that I knew I could trust these individuals.




In 2016, IGS released a tool aimed at aiding the matching of job seekers with companies through the use of technology to eliminate bias in external evaluations. While the business seemed to be progressing well with rising registrations, issues with mismatches between job seekers and employers arose, causing the venture to encounter challenges and struggle with generating sales. It was through UTEC's encouragement and support that we at IGS were able to pivot our approach.

SECTION03 : “I have a great deal of confidence in the company, and I trust them.”



“I have a great deal of confidence
in the company, and I trust them.”

Initially, we released a B2C model of our tool, which directly targeted job hunters. However, after struggling with monetization, we switched to a B2B model, where the tool was introduced to companies that sought to accurately evaluate and hire the best fit candidates for their organization. UTEC's value increased through this decision-making process, as well as in many other situations.

Mr. Sakamoto's extensive business knowledge, acquired from his consulting firm background and experience as an investor, equips him with the ability to quickly identify the weak points of a business. When our first tool failed to generate any sales for six months, he advised us to pivot. Such a pivot requires a great deal of courage, but Mr. Sakamoto is a very hands-on individual who even monitors our company Slack. When I was not active, he sent me an email to inquire about the situation (laughs). Because he has a deep understanding of the ins and outs of our company, I take his advice seriously.

Mr. Sakamoto may project an impression of being a composed, sharp individual, but his deep-seated passion is unrivaled. As for myself, I tend to be tenacious, leading to occasional disputes during our deliberations. However, despite any disagreements, we would always reconcile at the end of the day, with a mutual email message expressing regret for any comments made (laughs). Through such heated discussions, Mr. Sakamoto played an integral role in the crucial business decisions.

I am also appreciative of his willingness to take on difficult tasks within the company. As a business grows, there are inevitably times when managers must deliver tough feedback to their employees. However, when I found it difficult to speak frankly to team members with whom I had worked closely for a long time, Mr. Sakamoto sensed this and took upon the task himself. His action prompted me to examine my own inexperience, and also provided me with much-needed encouragement.

FINAL SECTION : A society where everyone can pursue lifelong learning.




A society where everyone can
pursue lifelong learning.

IGS was listed on the TSE Mothers market (now listed on the TSE Growth market) on December 29, 2021. What are Mr. Fukuhara's goals for the future?

We were initially uninformed about the listing process, but UTEC equipped us with the formal knowledge necessary for the pre-listing requirements. It is my belief that UTEC's support was instrumental in our timely and successful public listing.

IGS strives to build a world free from bias and conducive to lifelong learning. Accordingly, we have established a goal to "facilitate the realization of a unified and sustainable society" from 2021 onwards. Our proposed "means" to achieve this objective can be attained through the novel Web 3.0 worldview. To that end, we have developed a service dubbed "STAR" which employs blockchain technology to securely record learning history while safeguarding personal data. Students have the option of disclosing personal information to third-party firms in return for coins on STAR, which they can utilize to undertake courses and other educational pursuits. To date, over 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students have registered for STAR. It is a platform that empowers students to manage their data, and thus their growth. We remain committed to growing STAR to create an environment in which lifelong learning is feasible and sustainable for all.