The Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (“OIST”) and Beyond Next Ventures (“BNV”) announced on May 25 a new partnership to invest in deep-tech startups and develop the innovation ecosystem in Okinawa.
“Today is a happy day for OIST and me personally as we can announce that BNV, a venture capital firm whose core values are well aligned with ours, will invest in deep tech startups from OIST and enable entrepreneurs from anywhere in the world to come to OIST to launch their companies,” said Dr. Peter Gruss, President & CEO of OIST. “This provides the university with a sound financial basis to generate between 10-20 new companies in the next few years, and foster development in Okinawa through the creation of high-tech industry. This investment partnership is also a steppingstone for our aspiration to establish an even more ambitious fund that we hope will lay the basis for an innovation park next to the OIST campus.”
The two organizations are launching the OIST-BNV Innovation Hub (“OBI-Hub”), a platform for eligible startups to gain access to financial investment and tailored business services to bring their innovations to market. Deep-tech startups from anywhere in the world can apply to the OBI-Hub to join the emerging and buoyant entrepreneurial community growing around OIST.
Mr. Tsuyoshi Ito, Managing Partner & CEO of BNV, said, “We are pleased to kick off this collaboration with OIST, which is one of the most internationally outstanding education and research institutions for science and technology in Japan. With the OBI-Hub, we aim to grow globally competitive startups not only originating from Okinawa but also from around the world.”
BNV brings to the partnership their financial resources and expertise in launching deep-tech startups, and OIST provides access to its network of technical and industrial experts, access to incubation facilities on the OIST campus in Okinawa, and a “soft landing” in Japan for global startups. OIST and BNV aim to deploy about ¥500M ($5M) to invest in startups through the OBI-Hub over the next 2 years.
“We are excited to offer OIST’s growing startup community with the opportunity to get well financed in the very early stages of their activities,” said Mr. Gil Granot-Mayer, Acting Vice President of Technology Development & Innovation at OIST. Before joining OIST, Mr. Granot-Mayer was the CEO of Yeda, the technology commercialization arm of the Weismann Institute of Science in Israel, widely referred to as the “Start-up Nation”. “In addition to investment from BNV, eligible startups will have access to close mentoring and technical resources through OIST’s Technology Development & Innovation Center. I have seen the impact of the combination of great science, early-stage investment, and mentoring on places like Israel. Our vision with this partnership is to make the same impact in Okinawa.”
Ms. Mayu Morishima, Executive Officer& Biotechnology Lead Capitalist at BNV, said, “We are excited to work with OIST to expand the global startup ecosystem by leveraging our core investment activities, as well as our six years of experience with acceleration programs and wet lab incubation. With the OBI-Hub as a foothold initiative for the OIST-BNV collaboration, we are aiming for a long-term partnership.”
Startups can apply to the OBI-Hub via an online portal hosted on https:/
The Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) is an international graduate university which conducts outstanding education and research in science and technology, with global recognition. A truly interdisciplinary research environment with world-class facilities available for all, there are no barriers between scientific fields and scientists are encouraged to cross over and collaborate in new branches of knowledge.
The Technology Development and Innovation Center (TDIC) at OIST utilizes and leverages the unique resources of the university to promote innovation, entrepreneurship, and the development of science into practical and commercial applications that have social and economic benefits locally and across the globe.
Beyond Next Ventures, established in 2014, is engaged in various activities to discover outstanding research and bring that technology to practical use around the world.
As a venture capital firm, BNV currently has ~USD $220 million in total under management and has invested in more than 50 startups, mainly in Japan and India. It is a certified venture capital firm for Japanese national grant programs such as NEDO (New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization) and START (Program for Start-ups from Advanced Research & Technology).
To accelerate its portfolio companies’ growth and create new companies while developing the startup ecosystem in Japan, BNV operates the nation’s largest seed acceleration program “BRAVE” as well as the “Innovation Leaders Program,” which enables members of large companies opportunities to work for startups as their second job. So far, it has a talent pool of more than 2,000 people specializing in technology startups.
BNV also launched a wet laboratory in Tokyo Nihonbashi in 2019 to support early stage startup companies and advance their success.
Through these activities, BNV is boldly taking on new challenges to create a world in which everyone can forge bravely beyond the traditional paradigm.