Israel-Japan Conference"Conservatism can be a foundation for innovation"
"Conservatism can be a foundation for innovation"
Nobuyuki Akimoto, Co-Founder & Managing Director, AT Partners, was speaking at Calcalist's Israel-Japan Conference in Tokyo. He offered tips for large Japanese corporations that want to promote innovation and said that Israel can be a good mentor for Japan
"Israel has been able to encourage innovation in traditional industries such as agriculture and health, and it can be a good mentor for Japan. This is why we made an effort to promote cooperation between the two countries," said Nobuyuki Akimoto, Co-Founder and Managing Director of AT Partners at the Israel-Japan conference in Tokyo.
Akimoto, who spoke on a panel moderated by Daniel Kolbar, who heads Israel's Economic and Trade Mission to Japan, referred to the commonality between conservatism and innovation. "Sometimes they are seen as opposing forces, as if conservatism is the preservation of the status quo and innovation is the creation of new things. But they can work together and complement each other. Conservatism can be a foundation or a platform for innovation, by creating stability, reliability and expectations. When there is a strong foundation for innovators, they can take risks without fearing the results. Of course there are also challenges. Conservatives may fear working on new things that will disrupt the status quo, and innovators will be impatient due to the slow pace of conservatives. But the benefits of balancing the two outweigh the challenges."
Kolbar himself said in this regard: "Israel was established as a startup and needed an entrepreneurial spirit, investments and risk-taking. But we also have hundreds of years of tradition of international trade. In Japan there are 3,000 companies that are more than a century old, and they know what tradition is. But you need innovation to survive for so long."
Akimoto also offered tips for large Japanese corporations that want to promote innovation. "First, they need to find three champions - in the management, the innovation team and the business division - who will aggressively accelerate innovation and work with startups. Second, they need to focus on small and quick successes. And third, promote the small successes in the media. This is how you can capture people's attention."
Orr Danon, CEO and co-founder of Hailo, said about the combination between innovation and conservatism: "The fusion between innovation and conservatism is an opportunity to extract the best of both worlds, but it requires a lot of work. The first step is to identify the benefits to both parties. Then there is a long journey where you face dilemmas of conservatism versus innovation. A key component is communication, and it should be approached humbly. It takes time, you have to be attentive to the other side and open as much as possible, because the more information is transferred, the better it is. This makes it possible to achieve success."
Go Sugihara, CEO of the digital marketing company Atara, spoke about the role of Japan's education system in promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in the country. "A lot has changed in Japan, but it is a gradual change that takes time. Today there are many more student startups compared to a decade ago. The entrepreneurial environment has never been better. There are many advantages, disadvantages and issues that need to be improved in Japan's education system, but it teaches constant effort and provides free time that does not depend on creating economic value. This is important for fostering creativity. We can do a lot of things better in terms of education," he said.
Ayal Itzkovitz, Managing Partner at Pitango First, said: "We talk innovation every day all day. In recent years we have invested in 300 startups, some of which have become huge companies. We are a fund that started with two friends and a PowerPoint presentation. We love what we do, we have passion, and that's what we look for in our entrepreneurs. A passion that will allow them to channel creativity to places that will change the world. We are a relatively large team, we have been together for 30 years, in Israel that is a long time. We want to build more great companies. Generative AI is a real revolution and we have successfully invested in such companies."
Tal Recanati, Managing Director at Union Tech Ventures, added: "We are the venture capital arm of the Union Group, one of the largest holding companies in Israel. We have invested in 30 companies, with our goal being to bring the startup's product to the customer as quickly as possible. We can connect them to companies in the automotive, medical, and other fields, and make them accessible to decision-makers in these companies at an early stage. One of our recent investments has developed a unique operating system for drones and robots. This fits the Japanese market, which is very strong in robotics. Another of our companies is developing a new architecture for electric vehicle batteries which significantly increases the driving range. This is a product that is very suitable for the automotive industry in Japan."