6 Japan-Based Startups That Show Promise Of Going Global 

6 Japan-Based Startups That Show Promise Of Going Global 

Japan's startups are looking to break new ground in 2021—evident in this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), one of the most influential tech events held annually. Here’s our selection of 6 Japanese startups exhibiting at CES 2021 that show promise of going global.    

The CES Las Vegas tradeshow is being held online this year from January 11 to 14. Each year, the brightest of Japan's startups attend the conference with the help of J-Startup, an agency of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan (METI). J-Startup assesses promising products and businesses and—after careful perusal—provides them with a range of supportive structures, including subsidies and promotion through international exhibits.

Even without J-Startup backing, ambitious Japanese entrepreneurs, who have a global vision, bring their products to tradeshows like CES with the hope of finding overseas investors and gaining international visibility. This year, the total number of Japanese startups attending the CES 2021 tradeshow is 51, nearly double the number from the year prior. 

"J-Startup companies' record turnout for CES 2021 reflects their enthusiasm for using CES as the launching pad to expand their businesses globally," said Ichiro Sone, executive vice president of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), in a press release marking Japan's record 50+ startup presentation at the 2021 CES.

Among the 51 Japanese companies scheduled to present at CES 2021, proving their eagerness for global investors and growth, the following 6 startups have created products that feel timely, not just for Japan but also for markets worldwide. 

1. Kotozna


A J-Startup selection, Kotozna aims to provide multilingual contactless translation solutions for hotels—with many other uses. Kotozna In-room is a SaaS platform developed for hotels, digitizing communications between staff and guests, providing an all-in-one solution that helps with contagious disease prevention control, and crossing language barriers. This Japanese startup has taken its first steps to launch globally and is continuing to seek further growth opportunities, according to Kotozna's JETRO CES page. A product for our current times, Kotozna will likely find many options for partnership on the international stage.

2. Plimes

Plimes Gokuri on Woman's Neck

Japan's startups regularly spearhead innovations that provide solutions for aging populations. This is clearly shown in Plimes' first product, GOKURI, an AI product that monitors the swallowing capacity of elderly individuals. This AI-powered point of care product comes as a wearable device around the neck, providing clinicians and medical staff with the ability to monitor against choke risks in stroke patients and the elderly. Presently under development, with a launch date of 2021, this device, and many others like it, show Japan's deep understanding of the needs that elderly individuals face and the innovative solutions that Japanese startups are taking to tackle these issues. Plimes’ JETRO CES page is here

3. Archelis Inc.


This startup is the maker of an exoskeleton leg assist suit that enables wearers to complete long-standing tasks without straining the legs or back and with no external power supply. The exo suit, called Archelis, is attached to the legs and is adjustable to any height or body size. Two versions are ready for sale: Archelis for Medical, for medical workers, such as surgeons; and Archelis for Factory, for those who work in industrial settings. Making news since prototype development, Archelis won the Good Design Award, Best 100 in 2018, and the iF Design Award 2020. Not yet fully global, the startup's JETRO CES entry lists them as looking for investors.

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4. Yukai Engineering


Perhaps one of Japan's best-known robotics companies, Yukai Engineering's products have been covered by CNN, the Washington Post, Business Insider, TechCrunch, and many other international media outlets. They have won many awards, and their products have been popular globally. Still, their ambition runs deep. Their vision is to develop robots that will be recognized as the world's standard interface. The Bocco Emo, their latest product with a 2021 release date, is a cute robot that allows you to send and receive messages with your family and loved ones. Check out Yuka Engineering's JETRO CES entry page for more of their latest robot products.

5. BallWave Inc.


BallWave Inc. has created a smart gas chromatograph that expands one's natural odor perception abilities. This invention is the size of a lunchbox yet provides high performance in warning of toxic threats within the house or in your environs. Other uses include measuring food and beverage freshness levels. An exciting startup in the IoT and infrastructure category, BallWave Inc. is currently looking for global distributors and partners, according to their JETRO CES page. The lunchbox-sized gas chromatograph is still under development and is slated to be completed this year, 2021, but has already passed approval as a J-Startup selection. 

6. Vanguard Industries

Vanguard Industries

Vanguard Industries is a Tokyo startup that specializes in concept, solution, product, and experience design. Their first product, the MOFLIN, raised over $600,000 through a Kickstarter campaign and netted them an honoree placement in the 2021 CES Innovation Awards, which acknowledges outstanding design and engineering in consumer technology products. The MOFLIN is an AI pet that exhibits emotional learning patterns that provide a real-life pet experience. Its expressions will change as it is given care. Masahiko Yamanaka, Vanguard Industries' CEO, proposes that taking care of a MOFLIN could help prevent the onset of dementia and could be used in psychotherapy for elderly patients. Additionally, families that cannot take care of a real-live pet can still teach children essential aspects of sensitivity and caring for a pet through MOFLIN. Visit their JETRO CES page here

Go here for the full list of Japanese startups that were showcased by JETRO at CES 2021. 

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