Startup Entrepreneurs Present i-ROAD Collaboration Concepts

Event

The OPEN ROAD PROJECT and Forbes JAPAN recently staged an unprecedented collaboration event.
The gathering was planned as a special "summit" in which representatives of startup companies and Toyota joined for discussions aimed at mapping out what the future holds for mobility.
In this installment, we report upon this event and the excitement and enthusiasm that it generated.
The OPEN ROAD PROJECT and Forbes JAPAN recently staged an unprecedented collaboration event. The gathering was planned as a special "summit" in which representatives of startup companies and Toyota joined for discussions aimed at mapping out what the future holds for mobility. In this installment, we report upon this event and the excitement and enthusiasm that it generated.

Getting in Touch with Cutting Edge Innovations

Getting in Touch with Cutting Edge Innovations

Convened this July was the FORBES INNOVATION SUMMIT CONCEPT "TOYOTA OPEN ROAD PROJECT + Next Generation Entrepreneurs," an undertaking organized independently by Forbes JAPAN – the Japanese edition of the global-scale economic journal Forbes. The project addressed the theme of the "i-ROAD," the Toyota next-generation super-compact mobility vehicle, and sought to exchange thoughts with startup company entrepreneurs on the future of urban road traffic and visions of the social fabric. Perhaps driven by the desire to witness the raising of the curtain on state-of-the-art open innovations, the event venue was packed as soon as the doors opened. With that, the room was quickly enveloped in the passion and expectation of participants hoping to catch glimpses of the future of cities.

Prior to the presentations, Forbes JAPAN Chief Editor Makoto Takano took a few moments to speak on his magazine’s motivation in taking part in this project: "At Forbes JAPAN, we are determined to reach beyond the presence of a mere magazine, in emerging as a platform capable of effectively connecting information and people. With this event, we are taking the first big step toward making this vision come true."

img_flow_forbes_01The i-ROAD was naturally on display at the Summit site. The vivid color scheme was eye catching indeed!

img_flow_forbes_02Forbes JAPAN Chief Editor Makoto Takano delivers a vigorous endorsement of the importance of bridge platforms.

Diversified Approaches to Payments, Security, Electrical Power and Services

Diversified Approaches to Payments, Security, Electrical Power and Services

Gathering for this Summit were representatives of ten startup companies. Each firm was given six minutes to deliver a short presentation and discussion to outline their images of the future society to be realized hand in hand with the i-ROAD. The speakers previewed services structured to marshal their own distinctive corporate strengths, with a diversified range of approaches and perspectives unveiled. The core concepts included "payment services," "security," "ad technology," "smart locks," "maps," "personal assistance," "electrical power," "points" and more.
The Summit also featured a three-judge screening panel comprised of Chief Editor Takano, Toyota MIRAI Project Dept. Director Masaho Suzuki and Draper Nexus Venture Partners, Managing Director Akira Kurabayashi. These panelists were in charge of selecting three of the ten startups as recipients of special prize honors.

Chosen for the Best Social Innovator Prize was the Axelspace Corporation, which proposed a system for searching out narrow parking spaces for use by the i-ROAD based on land surface data sourced from an independent group of satellites.

The Best Business Innovator Prize was given to Liquid, Inc. which came up with the concept of using "Liquid Pay," the world’s first biometric payment service, to provide a car sharing payment service.
The third award was the Best Tech Innovator Prize, the winner of which was the AgIC Inc. for its concept of using printed electronics to produce circuits designed to be bent and glued into place to furnish heaters customized to the i-ROAD.

img_flow_forbes_03AgIC Company Director Masaaki Sugimoto screens a TV commercial profiling his company’s service.

img_flow_forbes_04Commemorative photo op of the three judges and representatives of the three honored companies.

Evaluation Benchmarks of Uniqueness, Potential and Technical Capacity

Evaluation Benchmarks of Uniqueness, Potential and Technical Capacity

Following the awards ceremony, the three judges took the stage to deliver a general consideration of their choices in a discussion format. Comments from Chief Editor Takano included mention of how difficult it proved to decide which ideas to honor: "With all of the proposals extremely outstanding, it was truly tough to make our selections. In the end, we based the decisions on the feasibility of collaboration with the i-ROAD, while adopting the three evaluation benchmarks of uniqueness, potential and technical capacity."

Bringing the event to a close was MIRAI Project Dept. Director Suzuki, who noted: "In arranging this Summit, while we were highly motivated by how stimulating the content promised to be, there were also concerns about whether this would really lead to concrete progress applicable to the i-ROAD. As evidenced in today’s presentations, however, we have learned about the various different perspectives and visions being adopted in this quest, and I can honestly say that this has turned out to be a genuinely fulfilling event."
The focus now promises to shift to the degree to which the ideas previewed at this gathering will grow and bloom on the marketplace, with hopes running high for redoubled progress and success from here on.

img_flow_forbes_05Toyota MIRAI Project Dept. Director Masaho Suzuki describes the excitement and expectations for what lies ahead.

 

TEXT BY Ryoko Sugimoto (contributor)

ISSUED : 9 September 2016