The TOMODACHI Social Entrepreneurship Awards are awarded to two winning teams from the University Venture Grand Prix (UVGP) entrepreneurship contest, established by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), The Tokyo New Business Conference and other collaborators.
2018 Campus Venture Grand Prix Competition
From March 17 to 20, the three winning teams of the TOMODACHI Social Entrepreneurship Award at the Campus Venture Grand Prix Competition, Datack, L-Hub, and Ecommons, traveled to Silicon Valley for a study tour. The winning startups included Datack, led by a PhD candidate in medical data science who is also a neurosurgeon, whose business plan drastically reduces doctors’ burden of medical documentation by using natural language processing technologies. L-Hub, led by a Masters student in robotics, combines IoT sensors and clinical data to provide personal training plans for elderly patients. Ecommons, led by young undergraduate students, eliminates 40 hours a month of overwork for teachers by providing the largest customizable database of lesson plans in Japan. Read More>>
In 2017, “University Venture Grand Prix Competition” would be integrated into “Campus Venture Grand Prix Competition”, and became a biggest business plan competition in Japan.
2016 University Venture Grand Prix Competition
On January 22, 2017, the University Venture Grand Prix Competition 2016 (UVGP 2016), hosted by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), was held in the Daiwa Ubiquitous Computing Research Building at the University of Tokyo’s Hongo Campus. Ten teams who successfully won the preliminary contests had an opportunity to pitch their business plans to a panel of judges composed of entrepreneurs, professors, and leaders from various fields.
This year, the TOMODACHI Social Entrepreneurship Award, which recognizes business plans that focus on social good, was awarded to Ciamo and to Common ice plant. Mr. Hajime Sugiura, Manager of the Corporate Planning Division, ETIC, and Mr. Ryan Way, Economic Officer, Trade and Economic Policy Unit, U.S. Embassy, presented the award on behalf of the judges and provided commentary.
The winning teams will travel to Silicon Valley in March 2017, where they will pitch their business plans to various venture capital firms, start-ups, NPOs, and accelerators. Read More>>
Meet the Winning Teams
Team: Ciamo (Sojo University, Kumamoto Prefecture)
With the slogan, “Kuma shochu lees and photosynthetic bacteria will save the world,” Ciamo pitched their business plan to produce and sell microorganisms and photosynthetic bacteria at low cost by recycling the leftover lees from shochu production. Ciamo hopes to encourage shrimp farms and mariculture and agriculture farms to use these microorganisms. By doing so, the farms could contribute to developing a recycling-oriented society, in which fewer chemicals are used and more byproducts are reused. Ciamo received the TOMODACHI Social Entrepreneurship Award for their prosocial, ecofriendly business plan that is revitalizing regional communities.
Team: Common ice plant (Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto Prefecture)
Common ice plant was inspired by the fact that in Tunisia, drought- and salt-tolerant succulent plants, commonly called ice plants, are being disposed of like weeds. Common ice plant’s business plan is to produce and pulverize ice plants in Tunisia and export it as a nutritious salt substitute to countries with large, health-conscious populations like Japan, while also contributing to low-wage local farms in Tunisia. Common ice plant received the TOMODACHI Social Entrepreneurship Award for their business plan that encourages fair trade and Creating Shared Value (CSV).
2015 University Venture Grand Prix Competition
On December 25, 2015, the 4th Annual University Venture Grand Prix (UVGP 2015) was held at Tokyo University’s FUKUTAKE Learning Theatre. Hosted by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), nine teams were chosen as finalists to pitch their projects to a panel of judges comprised of experienced entrepreneurs, professors, and industry leaders. Two teams, Luciole.Inc and MoonGlass, received the TOMODACHI Social Entrepreneurship Award, and will have the opportunity to travel to Silicon Valley, California in March 2016 to meet with various influential venture capitalists, local startups, large corporations, nonprofits, and fellow student entrepreneurs. Read More>>
Meet the Winning Teams
Silicon Valley Trip 2016
2014 University Venture Grand Prix Competition
On December 20, 2014, the University Venture Grand Prix competition hosted by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and held at the Tokyo Stock Exchange awarded the TOMODACHI Social Entrepreneurship Award to Dreampharos from JAIST (Japan Advanced Institute for Science and Technology).
The competition is supported by the Tokyo New Business Conference and Nomura Research Institute, and welcomed a guest judge for the Social Entrepreneurship Award – Haruo Miyagi of ETIC. The three winning groups (the UVGP grand prize, the Teacher’s Award, and the TOMODACHI Award) will be headed to Silicon Valley in March 2015 to meet with various influential venture capitalists, local startups, big corporations, nonprofits, and fellow student entrepreneurs.
This year close to 70 groups from undergraduate and graduate schools across Japan had applied, and the top nine groups were selected as finalists to present their ideas to a panel of judges comprised of teachers, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and a nonprofit leader. Read More>>
Team DREAMPHAROS from the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST) developed an interactive communication service called “Yume-chou” that preschools can use to communicate with parents. Currently most schools use paper-based notebooks called “Renraku-chou” to send daily updates, but this project aims to position Yume-chou as a digital Ranraku-chou, thereby creating a more efficient communication channel for childcare. Yume-choe is based on cloud computing technology and can support real-time communication between parents and school officials. The team plans to establish operations in Komatsu City, Japan beginning April 2015.
Silicon Valley Trip 2015
The winners of the 2015 TOMODACHI Social Entrepreneurship Award (Team DREAMPHAROS from the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) went to Silicon Valley from March 9-15, 2015 to present their ideas to American venture capitals and influential startups such as Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Fenox Ventures, and Global Brain; interacted with their counterparts at Stanford University D-School, UC Berkeley, and Code for America’s Civic Hack Night. Read More>>
Special thanks to Delta Airlines for contributing complimentary flights to the participants.
2014 Embassy Entrepreneurship Awards
- For the U.S. Embassy press release, click here
2013 University Venture Grand Prix Competition
On December 22, 2013, Team CODDRESS and Team MOLCURE emerged as winners of the TOMODACHI Award at the 2nd Annual University Venture Grand Prix Entrepreneurship Awards. They had the opportunity to travel to Silicon Valley, California to meet and pitch their ideas to influential startups and venture capitals in March 2014.
Meet the Teams
Kathryn Ibata-Arens, Associate Professor of Political Economy at DePaul University, attended the University Venture Grand Prix as a judge for the TOMODACHI Awards. She specializes in teaching courses on innovation, entrepreneurship, government policy and new venture business strategy, and was a great addition as the only female and non-Japanese judge on the panel.
- For more information on this program, click here
Silicon Valley Trip 2014