The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan



Rising to the Challenge
First Japan entrant in Creative Business Cup

By Patricia Bader-Johnston

For the first time this year, a Japanese business will be represented at the Creative Business Cup, a contest rewarding innovative ideas. Lina Sakai-Watanabe will pitch her company, Fermenstation, to a global audience of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists at this year’s Cup, to be held in November, in Copenhagen.

Sakai-Watanabe was a finalist in the awards presented this year through the Entrepreneur Mentoring Initiative (EMI), a suite of programs supported by the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan.

Her company was selected by a special EMI committee decision as the “most creative business” entered, and was thus chosen to participate in the 2014 Cup.

Fermenstation helps rural communities in the Tohoku region while creating distinctive Japanese rice-based products.

The Creative Business Cup strives to promote and strengthen the business skills of entrepreneurs in the creative industries, as well as recognize winners and role models who will inspire others.

Last year, two 22-year-old women from Croatia won with Teddy The Guardian, a plush toy embedded with sensors to monitor the vital signs of young children in hospitals. After winning the contest the Croatian team was able to pre-sell 38,000 Teddies!

Daniel Rosen of TokyoDex will also participate in the 2014 Cup as the nominee of nonprofit 5ive-Planets ISH. TokyoDex is an artist collective equipped to assemble a customized consortium of talent for any creative project.

The selection process for next year’s Creative Business Cup representative from Japan kicked off in September, supported by 5ive-Planets and the committee responsible for the EMI and The Entrepreneur Awards Japan, as well as Keio Media Design.

Beginning in 2015, the Creative Business Cup will be introduced into the existing EMI suite of awards granted each year, which includes the US Embassy’s Award, the ACCJ Director’s Award, the Groundbreakers Award, and the Venture Generation Award.

The winner of the Cup will be announced as part of The Entrepreneur Awards Japan ceremony to be held early in 2015. This year’s ceremony was hosted at the residence of U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy.

Applications are being accepted through November 10, and all applicants will need to pitch their products to the selection board. Finalists from the pitching phase will be automatically entered into the EMI applications process, and will need to present a detailed business plan in December.

The winner of the first Creative Business Cup Japan Award in January 2015 will be assigned a mentor to help them prepare for next year’s international Creative Business Cup, which will again be hosted in Copenhagen.

Who is eligible?
✓ Japanese nationals residing, studying, or doing business in Japan
✓ Permanent Residents of Japan (of any nationality) residing, studying, or doing business in Japan
✓ Individuals only (no teams)
✓ No age restrictions

Innovative ideas across multiple creative industries will be accepted. These could pertain to fashion, the arts, film, consumer products, food, advertising, or anime, to name a few. A working business plan is required for all submissions.

Got a winning idea?

If you could embed circuits directly into any material, or on any surface—in any shape or size—what would you design?

Wearable electronics, paper telephones, or cardboard tablet computers are just some of the possibilities. Can you imagine new kinds of wearable baby monitors, or better ways of tracking participants at the Olympics? Ideas supporting the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games are encouraged.

The sky is the limit for submissions. Winners will receive support from 2015 Creative Business Cup sponsor eSurface Technologies Ltd. to bring their ideas to market. |



Patricia Bader-Johnston is the founding chair of EMI/TEAJ, and advisor to the Tokyo Business Development Center.