The location is significant as Fukuoka has in recent years sought to develop itself as Japan’s Silicon Valley. Last year the city was granted permission to issue startup visas to foreign nationals and now boasts the highest rate of startup growth among Japanese municipalities. This would be less noteworthy in most first-tier economies, but in risk-adverse Japan most startups find it very difficult to get funding and talent. That a city relatively unknown outside Japan has made such progress in an inherently risky area of business is impressive.
So what can we expect? I think that the program will make good on its claim to focus on global innovation and entrepreneurship. A third of the speakers are non-Japanese, the opening speech is about international expansion, there’s a conference on Israel, and ambassador from Sweden is on one of the panel talks. We can also expect to see promotion for Fukuoka as a working destination. Talent acquisition has consistently been a focus of the startup community there, and FISH echoes this sentiment on their website. A speaker from the tourism bureau will give the closing speech on the first day.
This looks like a great exhibition for anyone into startup culture, technology, or Japan. If you’re going, be sure to check out the rest of the city while you’re there.