University News | February 14, 2023
Startup entrepreneurs, local stakeholders, and global investors met up at Sapporo’s landmark, Sapporo TV Tower, for the TechBBQ Sapporo event. Held on January 27, 2023, this is the first collaborative event between TechBBQ, a Denmark-based conference, and Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) to strengthen local-based, global-minded startups. Hokkaido University members, namely students who have their fair share of experience in entrepreneurship, also took stage in this event.
In one panel session, four Hokkaido University undergraduate students spoke about their encounters with the ups and downs in entrepreneurship as Hokkaido-based students, how they define startup ecosystems, and what kind of support can gear a good ecosystem.
Kazuya Matsue (Faculty of Humanities and Human Sciences) has been involved in several business development programs around Hokkaido. “I believe that what is important in the current startup ecosystem is to increase more interest among students. There are already many good programs fostering that fundamental aspect. So, I hope that we can have more programs that can provide training in the more advanced stages in entrepreneurship.”
Moana Kitamura (Faculty of Fisheries Science) represented Floatmeal, an enterprise led by Hokkaido University’s students since 2020. She said that other people’s support is what helps her in the study-work life balance. “I am always on the move in my business life. For example, to join this event I traveled to Sapporo from where I live, Hakodate. Thankfully my professor is very flexible with my schedule. My family, although startup is still a new option after graduation, also give their indirect support.”
The four student speakers were all involved in on-campus startup-related initiatives such as the Hult Prize and DEMOLA, which have produced multiple student-led business ventures and industry collaborations. Two of these are Floatmeal and Beeber Global, which also are two among eight startups who pitched their business in the evening of TechBBQ Sapporo in front of audience consisted of fellow entrepreneurs and potential investors.
TechBBQ Sapporo was supported by the Hokkaido Government, Startup City Sapporo, and Hokkaido University’s Institute for the Promotion of Business-Regional Collaboration. The Institute has a Startup Creation Division which has two main functions in serving the University’s students: entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurship development.
“More often than not, entrepreneurial students encounter a halt in their progress, fear of failure, and other problems. We offer support through our educational programs in making sure that they are properly armed,” said Itsuro Sugimura, the head of the Startup Creation Division.
Motoki Harigaya is a JETRO representative who is an alumnus of Hokkaido University. He was impressed with the current students’ growing interest in entrepreneurship. “When I was still studying in Hokkaido University, nobody around me was talking about startups. But, when I attended the Nitobe College program last year as a speaker, I was amazed to see that many students, especially international students, are interested in startups as one of their career paths.”
Written by Aprilia Agatha Gunawan