Report on the SSE and Hitotsubashi Joint Symposium on Innovation Ecosystem

The SSE and Hitotsubashi Joint Symposium on Innovation Ecosystem -A Key to Successful Innovation: Lessons from Swedish and Japanese Start-up Practices- was held at the National Center of Science Building (Gakujutsu Sogo Center), on May 16, 2019.

The symposium was jointly organized by The Institute of Innovation Research, Hitotsubashi University and The House of Innovation (HOI) and the European Institute of Japanese Studies, Stockholm School of Economics, in collaboration with Toyokeizai, Business Forum, HUB FinTech Forum and IMPP. Although held on a weekday, the symposium enjoyed the participation of more than 100 visitors and received positive reviews.

The program of the SSE and Hitotsubashi Joint Symposium can be accessed from below.

In Session One “Emerging Fintech,” Mr. Michal Gromek (Head of Operations and Compliance, Safello AB) gave a presentation on The Development of the Swedish Fintech Ecosystem. He spoke about the current situation of Sweden where fintech is developing at high speed, but many problems remain to be solved such as the legal system which is not yet aligned with the rapid development of technologies.

Following Mr. Gromek, Mr. Daisuke Sasaki (CEO, freee K.K.) gave a presentation on the Trends in Japanese FinTech and freee’s innovation. He explained how he started his business based on the belief that boosting the productivity of SMEs will lead to the growth of the entire Japanese economy and how his company grew to be so large starting from the development of an accounting software. He also shared his personal feelings behind his success.

In light of the above two presentations, a panel discussion was held under the moderation of Emeritus Professor Seiichiro Yonekura (Institute of Innovation Research, Hitotsubashi University / Professor, Hosei University) and opinions were actively exchanged among Professor Mikiharu Noma (Hitotsubashi University Business school), Mr. Gromek and Mr. Sasaki, sparking an in-depth discussion on the theme. The discussion emphasized that not only efforts by technology experts and business managers, but the cooperation of legal experts is essential for the development of fintech.

It was also mentioned that Japanese government officials are also willing to contribute to the development of fintech, which highlighted the fact that close communication with policymakers was also very important.

In Session Two “Systems and Management of Innovation,” Mr. Yoshiaki Ishii (Director, Science, Technology and Innovation, Cabinet Office) first gave a presentation on Creating an Innovation Ecosystem in Japan. He explained the recent status of business startups in Japan and comprehensively introduced various measures implemented by the Japanese government and private sector to promote innovation in Japan.

Next, Ms. Zelia Sakhi (Chief Experience Officer of Virtusize Japan) gave a presentation titled, Customer-centric Innovation, the Swedish Way. She explained in detail and presented some specific examples of the process of how customer-centered innovation is created in Sweden.

In the following panel discussion moderated by Professor Mattia Bianchi (HOI, Stockholm School of Economics), Assistant Professor Mark A. Conley (Stockholm School of Economics), Mr. Ishii and Ms. Sakhi engaged in a multi-perspective discussion by sometimes comparing the systems and management styles of Japan and Sweden. They pointed out that the interaction between macro-processes such as policy development and micro-processes carried out by individual organizations and persons is the key to the sustainable creation of innovation.

With the closing remarks given by Mr. Martin Koos (General Manager of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan (SCCJ)), the symposium concluded in great success.

We extend our appreciation for your cooperation and to everyone who participated.