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Fukuoka City, renowned for its historical role as a gateway to Japan from Asia spanning over 2,000 years, is currently focused on becoming a prominent hub for startups and entrepreneurs globally. As a National Strategic Zone for Global Startups and Job Creation, Fukuoka City aims to foster a thriving startup ecosystem. In line with this objective, Startup City Fukuoka, JETRO Fukuoka and StartupBlink have collaborated to launch the Fukuoka Startup Ecosystem Report.

This report provides an in-depth analysis of Fukuoka City’s startup landscape, covering significant trends, challenges, opportunities, and success stories. It caters to founders, investors, policymakers, and individuals interested in gaining insights into Fukuoka’s innovation landscape. In this blog post, we offer a preview of the main insights and highlight noteworthy initiatives within the Fukuoka Startup Ecosystem.

What Can You Discover in the Fukuoka Startup Ecosystem Report?

1. Empowering Startups in Fukuoka City

In its mission to become a prominent startup hub, Fukuoka City has established a range of supportive policies and infrastructure to foster a thriving ecosystem. Two key initiatives that deserve special attention are the Startup Visa and the Fukuoka City Startup Package. 

2. Startup Visa: Opening Doors for Entrepreneurial Talent

Fukuoka City’s Startup Visa program paves the way for aspiring entrepreneurs to enter the ecosystem with ease. This unique initiative enables entrepreneurs to obtain a six-month Business Manager Visa by submitting their business plan to Fukuoka City, bypassing certain traditional prerequisites. If selected, entrepreneurs can extend their visa for up to one year while their suitability for a Confirmation Certificate is evaluated. This Confirmation Certificate opens the doors to acquiring the status of residence of Designated Activities for an additional year. Fukuoka City goes the extra mile to support entrepreneurs during this transition, assisting them in smoothly changing their visa status from Designated Activities to a Business Manager Visa within the first year.

3. Fukuoka City Startup Package: Catalyzing Startup Success

The Fukuoka City Startup Package is a comprehensive set of benefits offered to eligible businesses, designed to propel their growth and success. One of the standout advantages is the availability of startup corporate tax cuts, alleviating the financial burden for startups in their early stages. Additionally, eligible businesses gain access to the Startup Visa, streamlining the immigration process for entrepreneurs who wish to establish their ventures in Fukuoka City. Furthermore, the city offers a range of startup support services, including consultations provided at the Startup Cafe. These services serve as a valuable resource, offering guidance and mentorship to startups, helping them navigate the challenges and seize the opportunities that lie ahead.

The Conductive Business Environment of Fukuoka City

1. An Ideal Location for Global Business

Fukuoka City not only boasts a vibrant startup ecosystem but also offers a highly conducive business environment that attracts companies from around the world. Its strategic location, well-connected transportation, and cost advantages make it an appealing destination for businesses seeking growth and expansion.

2. Connectivity at its Best

Fukuoka City’s infrastructure is designed to facilitate seamless business operations. With the airport, Hakata Station, and business event facilities located within a 2.5km radius, it creates a compact and easily accessible commute area. Moreover, the city is exceptionally well-connected to the global market. Fukuoka Airport offers regular flights to 22 international cities across nine countries and regions, with a staggering 832 flights per week. This convenient connectivity extends beyond Japan, allowing for day trips to major Asian cities like Seoul, Shanghai, and Taipei, further enhancing business opportunities and collaborations.

3. Cost-Effective Business Environment

Launching and running a business in Fukuoka comes with notable cost advantages. According to Invest Fukuoka, office rents in Fukuoka are 52% lower compared to Tokyo, making it an attractive option for businesses looking to optimize their operational expenses. The city also offers a 25% cost advantage in terms of wages and an 8% lower Consumer Price Index (CPI) compared to Tokyo. Additionally, residential rents are 51% lower, providing a more affordable living environment for employees. These cost advantages contribute to a favorable business climate and enable companies to maximize their resources.

4. A Magnet for Global Companies

Fukuoka’s proactive initiatives and vision to attract global companies have yielded remarkable results. Renowned American giants like Amazon and Accenture have chosen Fukuoka City as their preferred location for expansion and relocation. The prestigious Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC), a US-based organization, has established a center in Tenjin, Fukuoka City, making it the second such facility in Asia after Tokyo. This commitment from international players demonstrates the city’s growing reputation as a preferred destination for global business endeavors.

Highlights of 2022 and Q1 2023: Fukuoka's Thriving Startup Ecosystem

Fukuoka City’s startup ecosystem has witnessed remarkable achievements and milestones in 2022 and Q1 2023. Notable highlights include M-DAQ Global expanding its operations to Fukuoka, Nulab’s successful listing on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Growth Market after years of dedicated operations, and Fukuoka City’s participation in Astar Japan Lab to drive the adoption of Web 3.0 technologies. These developments showcase Fukuoka’s growing reputation as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With global expansions, successful listings, and strategic collaborations, Fukuoka’s startup scene continues to flourish, attracting attention from startups, investors, and entrepreneurs alike.

Ecosystem Benchmarking and Industry Insights

Fukuoka City has achieved remarkable rankings in various sectors, solidifying its position as a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship in Japan. Since 2021, Fukuoka has consistently held the 4th position in Japan’s startup ecosystem rankings. In 2023, the city further solidified its lead over Nagoya, showcasing its sustained growth and competitiveness in the Japanese startup landscape.

The city has emerged as a formidable player in Japan’s startup ecosystem, achieving remarkable rankings across multiple sectors. In the Social & Leisure sector, Fukuoka takes an impressive 2nd position in Japan, surpassing renowned cities like Kyoto and Osaka. Furthermore, Fukuoka secures the 3rd spot in Japan for Software & Data, outperforming major tech hubs such as Osaka, Nagoya, and Sapporo. Additionally, in the Hardware and IoT field, Fukuoka proudly ranks 4th in Japan, surpassing notable cities like Nagoya and Tsukuba.

Supporting Ecosystem Stakeholders

Within the Fukuoka Startup Ecosystem, various stakeholders play a crucial role in fostering innovation and supporting entrepreneurial ventures. This report provides an insightful overview of these key players, including corporations, investors, universities, accelerators, incubation centers, government agencies, support programs, and events.

Fukuoka offers a range of initiatives to empower and uplift entrepreneurs. Fukuoka Growth Next serves as a comprehensive support hub, providing startups with essential services, accelerator and incubator programs, as well as vibrant coworking spaces. Another notable resource is the Global Startup Center, an initiative by Startup City Fukuoka, dedicated to assisting foreign entrepreneurs in launching their businesses in Fukuoka.

In addition to these initiatives, the report delves into the landscape of venture capital firms, accelerators, universities, and events that contribute to the vibrant startup ecosystem of Fukuoka. By exploring these diverse stakeholders, entrepreneurs gain valuable insights and access to resources that can propel their ventures to new heights.

The full report provides an in-depth analysis and comprehensive details on these supporting ecosystem stakeholders, shedding light on the collaborative efforts that drive entrepreneurship and innovation in Fukuoka.

Don't miss out on the Fukuoka Startup Ecosystem Report

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StartupBlink is the world’s most comprehensive startup ecosystem map and research center, working with over 100 government entities worldwide. StartupBlink’s global startup ecosystem map has tens of thousands of registered startups, coworking spaces, and accelerators, creating a robust sample of innovation globally.