Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Silicon Valley in April 2015 was both symbolic and substantive as it ushered in a new era of partnership between his country and California’s center of innovation. During the visit, Abe unveiled his new initiative called “Bridge of Innovation Between Silicon Valley and Japan,” which has sparked eagerness among Japanese companies to adopt Silicon Valley’s ways of modernization and digitization. The initiative eventually led to the creation of several incubators and accelerators, as well as further collaborations in the fields of technology and research.
Now with more than 900 Japanese-affiliated companies in the Bay Area alone, Northern California has once again proven itself to be the hothouse for collaboration and innovation between U.S. and Japanese business.
GMI Post returns to Northern California following the success of its last special business report back in 2014. This planned report will identify organizations across the Bay Area that want closer ties with Japan across various industries, such as technology, financial services, retail, manufacturing and agriculture.
To commemorate the 160th anniversary of the arrival of the first official Japanese delegation in San Francisco, the Northern California 2020 report will provide a platform for local and Japanese organizations to send a strong message of commitment and openness back to Japan.
As Japanese investment ebbed and flowed into Northern California over the past several years, Silicon Valley is back in the spotlight and has once again attracted the attention of Japanese companies, both large and small.
The heyday of Japanese investment in the region dates back to the 1980s when the Asian economy was at its strongest. Investments, at that time, focused on manufacturing, real estate and consumer goods. Then, interest shifted to Silicon Valley during the first dot-com boom in the mid-1990s until the dot-com bubble burst in 2000. The global financial crisis of 2007-2008 failed to restore confidence in the region’s viability.
Today, Japanese companies look to Silicon Valley for new ways to do business and help revive their country’s stagnant economy. While there was an effort by some Japanese to build its own Silicon Valley back home, they later realized that the exercise was futile because they had to be close to where new ideas were born.
So, several start-ups and research organizations have set up shop in Silicon Valley to develop closer connections and gain their own inspiration for new solutions in technology, biopharmaceuticals and advanced manufacturing. Japanese companies send representatives to the region for them to gain experience and knowledge, which they can bring back to Japan.
And as digitization continues to influence business, the Japanese are determined not to lag behind this new trend.