Innovation Dojo

University's Global Expansion Program 2023 sponsored by the Ministry of Education done in Kobe

Innovation Dojo Japan recently organized a domestic program and the "1st Venture Makers Global Conference" as part of an University's Global Expansion Program sponsored by the Ministry of Education. This project is implemented by universities from five countries around the world and is led by Kansai International University.

■Period: July 3, 2023 (Monday) to July 13, 2023 (Thursday) (excluding July 9, 2023, Sunday)

■ Locations:

  • Kansai International University Yamanote Campus (Lectures, Group Work)
  • Anchor Kobe (Events, Workshops) in Kobe City
  • Other nearby areas (Kansai International University Amagasaki Campus, Osaka City)

■ Domestic University Participants: Kansai International University (12 participants), Kobe Design University (1 participant)

■ International University Participants: United Kingdom: University of Keele (3 participants), India: Delhi University South Campus (4 participants), Australia: Western Sydney University (9 participants), Canada: Vancouver Island University (3 participants)

The domestic program in Kobe was planned and operated by Innovation Dojo Japan, incorporating elements of the Western Sydney University's Venture Makers entrepreneurship education curriculum combined with Innovation Dojo’s expertise in the area of cross-border innovation and networks across the Japan startup ecosystem. This program aims to develop entrepreneurial skills and know-how that may be used to start a startup or work in an innovative organization.

In the first half of the program, with the cooperation of corporate partners, idea generation workshops were held with the aim of creating new businesses. Through these workshops, participants had the opportunity to understand the initiatives of each company in innovation and learn methods useful for idea generation.

In addition to such workshops, active foreign entrepreneur was invited as a lecturer to cover basic knowledge in entrepreneurship, including 1) methods for validating ideas, 2) market and competitor research, 3) selection of target customers, 4) establishment of business models, and 5) uniqueness of the Japanese market.

Students from Japan and abroad collaborated with each other and actually worked in groups to come up with startup ideas and prepare pitches to present them at the Venture Makers Global  Conference on the final day.

  • Opening Event (Anchor Kobe)

Representatives from various companies, including TOA Corporation, Anchor Kobe, AstraZeneca Corporation, and MCC Food Corporation, provided introductions about their businesses and presented the themes for the upcoming workshops during the opening event at Anchor Kobe.

  • TOA Corporation Workshop (Anchor Kobe)

A workshop was conducted with the theme "Thinking about Sound Design in the Future Living Environment" at Anchor Kobe. Participants engaged in discussions on how to create a sound environment that people find pleasant using TOA Corporation's technology. The workshop included experiences with directional speakers that deliver sound only to specific areas and a spatial reproduction of recorded sounds through multiple speakers.

  • Startup Basics Course (Kansai International University Yamanote Campus)

Lars Lawson, an active entrepreneur operating an IT consulting business in Kagawa Prefecture, was invited as a lecturer. The lecture focused on the mindset and practical application of the "Lean Canvas" framework for considering the business model of startups.

  • AstraZeneca Corporation Workshop (AstraZeneca Corporation, Osaka Office)

A workshop was conducted with the theme "Thinking about the Future of Healthcare" at the Osaka office of AstraZeneca Corporation. The workshop provided an opportunity to learn about initiatives through the community "" operated by AstraZeneca Corporation and collaborative cases with startups.During the group work session, participants had the opportunity to choose a specific area of interest related to either 1) disease prevention and detection or 2) diagnosis and treatment.

  • Knowledge Capital Inspection (Grand Front Osaka)

Participants visited the core facility of Grand Front Osaka, known as Knowledge Capital. The visit focused on learning about initiatives and operational structures related to innovation creation centered around the concept of "OMOSIROI" (interesting). The program included a facility tour, exploring the member-exclusive networking space called "Knowledge Salon," and visiting the "Active Lab," a space where universities, research institutes, and companies exhibit pre-commercialized ideas and prototypes.

  • Anchor Kobe Workshop (Anchor Kobe)

A workshop was conducted with the theme "Ideas to Promote Collaboration" to explore effective utilization of community spaces. As a method for idea generation, the workshop employed the " Mandala method," where participants passed around idea sheets, expanding and building upon each other's ideas. The goal was to brainstorm ideas that could enhance collaboration within the community space.

  • MCC Food Corporation Workshop (Kansai International University Amagasaki Campus)

At the Kansai International University Amagasaki Campus, a workshop featuring a presentation on the corporate overview and existing products of MCC Food Corporation was conducted. Following the presentation, the theme shifted to "Market Development for Inbound Customers for the Osaka Expo," with a focus on discussing the challenges and issues faced by travelers in terms of dining experiences.As a starting point for idea generation, participants engaged in discussions about the difficulties and problems encountered during meals while traveling. The workshop also included a tasting session of M.C. Food Corporation's existing products, such as retort curries and pasta sauces.

  • Kobe Harborland Tourism

Participants boarded the Kobe Bay Cruise "Gozabune Anataku Maru" and took a approximately 40-minute tour around Kobe Port, visiting the shipyards of Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, as well as submarines of the Maritime Self-Defense Force.

The 2nd International Student Entrepreneur Conference took place on July 13th, 2023, at Kansai International University's Kobe Yamate Campus. Approximately 70 participants attended, including representatives from collaborating companies such as TOA Corporation and MCC Food Corporation, as well as individuals from Kobe City,  Knowledge Capital, students from Kansai International University, and program participants.

During the conference, 32 students who participated in the program showcased their pitches, representing a total of 7 groups. Among them, three groups were recognized and received awards for their outstanding presentations. The event provided a valuable opportunity for students to demonstrate their entrepreneurial spirit, present their business ideas, and engage with a diverse audience that included industry professionals, city officials, and fellow students.

The program has been recognized as an opportunity for collaboration and cooperation in a multicultural environment, serving as a platform to learn about entrepreneurship with a global perspective. (Examples of Feedback below)

  • Personally, the first week exposed me to a global mindset, enhancing my curiosity as an entrepreneur and helping me cultivate the mindset to act with confidence. (Cohort #2 program participant,University of Keele)
  • I didn't expect to be able to conduct such solid group work. It was a valuable learning experience, and my English skills have improved beyond what I had before.
  • (Cohort #2 program participant,Kansai International University Student)
  • Discussions in each workshop, especially in new groups each time, were incredibly helpful in networking with various people and easing the tension among students from different countries.
  • (Cohort #2 program participant, Delhi University Student)
  • Experiencing the new perspective of an entrepreneur and being exposed to different ways of thinking overseas, I feel like my values have changed 180 degrees. I believe it will be extremely useful in my future life. (Cohort #2 program participant,Kansai International University Student)

University's Global Expansion Program 2023 sponsored by the Ministry of Education done in Kobe
Moe Gotoda

Moe is a talented Kobe native, bilingual having grown up in the US and has a strong background as an office and community manager.

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