Eighth Ideathon: Yukihiro Maru, Group CEO, Leave a Nest Co., Ltd.
Held on Wednesday, January 12, 2019, the Eighth Ideathon welcomed as guest speaker Mr. Yukihiro Maru, Group CEO of Leave a Nest Co.
After graduating from the Department of Environmental and Life Sciences in the School of Life Sciences of the Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Sciences, Mr. Maru earned a PhD in agricultural sciences from the Department of Biotechnology, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, at the University of Tokyo. He served concurrently as technical advisor to Euglena and management advisor to Genequest, Ory Laboratory, Challenergy, and Metabologenomics. He has been involved in startup efforts or management activities at more than 70 companies to date.
Drawing on his concept of the ideal research scientist, his dream is to create a slightly out-of-the-ordinary research center that will continue to create new products, services, and ideas needed by the world.
In 2001, while a graduate student at the University of Tokyo, he was one of a group of 15 science and technology graduate students who founded Leave a Nest Co. At the time, the company’s business model called for holding experimental science classes led by researchers. Since then, it has dispatched visiting personnel to teach classes in experimental science to more than 100,000 students in elementary, middle, and high school, with the goal of conveying to students how science and technology contribute to the welfare of the planet.
At that time, the company stated that it had been refused funding by all the venture capitalists it had approached due to the perceived absence of business potential. Thanks to steady efforts, it has since attracted more than 300 companies to participate in its activities.
About Leave a Nest
As part of a team of science and technology students, Mr. Maru founded Leave a Nest while still a graduate student. Since launching a business based on organizing and providing experimental classes presented by visiting teachers on state-of-the-art science and technology, Leave a Nest has created a succession of new businesses by combining latent management resources and technologies at universities and in local communities. To date, Leave a Nest has launched more than 200 projects in Japan and around the world and has played a role in supporting numerous startups, including Euglena.
The potential of manufacturing-based tourism
Leave a Nest is taking on the challenge of a new kind of partnership, one example that links small factories to manufacturing startups. Japan is home to a large number of small factories that have played key roles in establishing its status as a manufacturing superpower. However, even with their advanced technological capabilities, these small factories currently face a harsh business environment, due to factors such as the successive shift of production facilities overseas by major manufacturers and the lack of a next generation to lead the factories into the future. Manufacturing startups, on the other hand, require a wide range of technologies to move forward with product development but have limited internal expertise and technologies; finding partners with high technological capabilities is key to their growth.
In response, Leave a Nest has opened the Center of Garage, an incubation facility intended to help link players from different backgrounds: small factories and manufacturing startups. Numerous small factories are scattered around Tokyo’s Sumida Ward, which makes it easy to find one to produce product prototypes. The incubation facility also houses representatives of large firms focusing on working with manufacturing startups. With Leave a Nest serving as go-between, this rare facility, which brings together under one roof small factories, manufacturing startups, and large firms, is making major contributions to the creation of new businesses.
Station F, a large startup support center in Paris, is attracting capable young entrepreneurs from around the world, as well as a rush of visitors. The Center of Garage is also attracting personnel from the world of manufacturing, including individuals involved in manufacturing in Japan and overseas research personnel. It’s fast becoming a new can’t-miss destination in Sumida Ward.
The role of facilitator
Japan is entering a period characterized by a sharp decline in birthrate and an aging population. One factor underlying this phenomenon is said to be the centralization of the country’s population in high-density Tokyo, a hypothesis also supported by population ecology research. Establishing regionally distributed communities is a pressing issue for the new Reiwa imperial era in Japan, and there is a need to lay the groundwork for creating new things in each region.
Also essential to creating businesses grounded in science and technology in each region will be ecosystems including the following elements: (i) universities (and the dormant knowledge they hold); (ii) strong local businesses; (iii) administrators capable of creating inclusive and flexible frameworks; (iv) financial institutions willing to take risks; and (v) facilitators (coordinators, producers, and practitioners). Leave a Nest serves as facilitator to help create businesses grounded in science and technology not just in Tokyo and Osaka, but across Japan.
In the second half of the session, Leave a Nest Operating Officer and CKO Mr. Kazuhiro Hasegawa, an alumnus of Tokyo Metropolitan University, discussed the Leave a Nest organization and answered questions from participants.
The next session will welcome as guest speaker Mr. Takahiro Ishikawa, CEO of Sentan Bio.