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CIRCULAR STARTUP TOKYO

Circular Economy Startup Incubation Program

What is CIRCULAR STARTUP TOKYO?

CIRCULAR STARTUP TOKYO is an incubation program specializing in the circular economy. It is part of “TOKYO SUTEAM,” a startup company support project affiliated with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. The program is operated by Harch Inc., which provides an online platform, “Circular Economy Hub.”

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Program Features

Circular Input

Circular Input

Understanding of Essential Circular Business Design

Experts, entrepreneurs, and VCs who are leading the circular economy in Japan provide lectures on essential circular business directly.
Circular Business Design

Circular Business Design

Business Method Based on circular Value Chain

Support following a circular approach begins at the inception of business planning, in collaboration with recycling companies and other professionals in the circular economy sector.
Circular Mentoring

Circular Mentoring

Mentors With Expertise in Circular Business Development

Experienced startup entrepreneurs, experts, and researchers with specialization in the Japanese circular economy offer mentoring and advisory services.
Circular Networking

Circular Networking

Extensive Domestic and International Connections

Providing networking opportunities with domestic and international organizations promoting the circular economy, as well as large corporations, financial institutions, investors, local governments, and experts.
Circular Promotion

Circular Promotion

Business Development Support Through MediaPlatform

Benefit from effective information dissemination and public relations support through our robust network and the prominent domestic web media platform, ‘Circular Economy Hub‘.
Circular Finance

Circular Finance

Collaboration and Fundraising Support with Venture Capitalists and Financial Institutions

In addition to Demo Day cash prizes, we provide opportunities for pitching to investors and major corporations, incorporating various exit strategies and fundraising methods.

Circular Mentors and Advisors

Our team includes over 20 mentors and advisors, comprising business founders, entrepreneurs, investors, and experts at the forefront of Japan’s circular economy. They offer invaluable advice on startups, business expansion, and fundraising strategies.

Hirokazu Kitahara
Hirokazu Kitahara

Partner, Archetype Ventures

Akira Sakano
Akira Sakano

President, Zero Waste Japan

Shingo Yoshizumi
Shingo Yoshizumi

CEO, KAMAN, Inc.

Kuniko Sekine
Kuniko Sekine

Advisor, Tokyo Circular Economy Promotion Center

Shogo Minemura
Shogo Minemura

Representative Director, Zoukei Kousou Co.

Masayuki Terai
Masayuki Terai

President, Garbage School / Advisor, HAMADA Co., Ltd. for Circular Economy

Overview

Submission - Selection

Monday, February 19

Recruitment Begins

Friday, March 15

Application deadline (by 12:00 pm)

Monday, March 25

Selection Results Notification (will be sent via email.)

Program Information Session

Thursday, March 7, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Program:

  • Guest talk
  • Panel discussion
  • Program orientation
  • Networking

Guest Speakers:

  • Yasuhiro Yoshikawa (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Industrial Science and Technology Policy and Environment Bureau, Resource Recycling Economy Division)
  • Rina Sakai (Representative Director, Fermenstation Co., Ltd.)
  • Hirokazu Kitahara (Partner, Archetype Ventures)

For the details of the information session, please check out the event report. (in Japanese)

Venue

  • In person: City Lab Tokyo
  • Online: Zoom

Program Timeline

Day 1: Tuesday, April 16, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Kick-off event
Networking with participants

Guest:

  • Sumiyuki Nakadai (Representative Director, NAKADAI Co. Ltd.)
  • Kouzou Eguchi (KAMAKURA INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT CO., LTD. / Sohatsu Tsubomi Fund operation director)
  • Hirokazu Kitahara (Partner, Archetype Ventures)
Venue

  • In person: City Lab Tokyo
  • Online: Zoom
Day 2: Tuesday, April 23, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Circular Incubation Lecture vol.1

Topic:
What is the Circular Economy?
Circular Economy and Design Research

Lecturers:

  • Kiyokazu Nasu (Representative Director, Circle Design Inc.)
  • Shogo Minemura (Representative Director, Zoukei Kousou Co.)
Venue

  • In person: City Lab Tokyo
  • Online: Zoom
Day 3: Tuesday, May 14, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Circular Incubation Lecture vol. 2

Topic:
Circular Economy and Business Models
Circular Economy and Startup Practice vol.1

Lecturer:
Rina Sakai (Representative Director, Fermenstation Co., Ltd.)

Venue

  • In person: City Lab Tokyo
  • Online: Zoom
Day 4: Tuesday, May 21, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Circular Incubation Lecture vol. 3

Topic:
Circular Economy and Finance
Circular Economy and Startup Practice vol. 2

Lecturers:

  • Hirokazu Kitahara (Partner, Archetype Ventures)
  • Shingo Yoshizumi (Representative Director, KAMAN, Inc.)
Venue

  • In person: City Lab Tokyo
  • Online: Zoom
Day 5: Tuesday, May 28, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Circular Incubation Lecture vol.4

Topic:
Circular Economy and Partnership
Circular Economy Start-up Practice vol. 3

Lecturers:
Masayuki Terai (Representative, Garbage School)
Akira Sakano (Representative Director, General Incorporated Association Zero-Waste Japan)

Venue

  • In person: City Lab Tokyo
  • Online: Zoom

Interim Demo Day

Tuesday, June 4, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Interim Demo Day

Guests: Mentors

Venue

  • In person: TBD
  • Online: Zoom

Final Demo Day

Saturday, August 3, 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Final Demo Day

Guests: Mentors, Financial Institutions, Business Companies, Media, etc.

Venue

  • In person: TBD
  • Online: Zoom

Application Guidelines

Target Participants

  • Individuals considering founding a business in the field of circular economy, including areas such as manufacturing, fashion, food, construction, packaging, and digital.
  • University and graduate students who want to commercialize their research findings.
  • Intrapreneurs in large corporations who are considering new ventures in the circular economy sector.
  • Small and medium-sized business owners contemplating the establishment of new companies in the circular economy field.
  • Startup entrepreneurs in the circular economy sector aiming to expand their business significantly, with fundraising as a prerequisite.

Note:
*Although having an established business or company does not influence the selection outcome when applying for the program, applicants with a well-defined business plan or idea may receive priority consideration in case of a high volume of applications.
*The term “circular economy” is defined as a wide range of businesses that contribute to the transition to a circular economic and social system. This encompasses the development of renewable circular materials, sharing services, repair services, and digital platforms that promote resource circulation. If you are unsure whether your idea fits into this category, please contact the program office for clarification.

Number of applicants

10 groups (maximum 20 people / maximum 2 people per group) *Individual and team participation are both welcome.

Participation Fee

Free of charge (transportation to the program site is not included)

Application period

Friday, March 15, 2024, (by 12:00 pm)

Selection Process

Document Review and Interview

Benefits

  • Support for prototype creation and pilot testing: Up to 200,000 yen per team for expenses (application required).
  • Web platform “Circular Economy Hub community” membership benefits: During the program participation period, receive benefits equivalent to a monthly fee of 2,980 yen for the Circular Economy Hub community membership. This includes free access to the monthly event “Circular X,” exclusive access to a Slack community, and members-only community events. Opportunities for networking and matchmaking with member companies, and occasions to share information within the community are also available.
  • Matching: Match quickly with domestic and international circular economy investors, major corporations, researchers, and experts according to your challenges and phases of your business.
  • Introduction to PoC Fields: Network with entities willing to cooperate in pilot testing, such as retailers, commercial facilities, and local governments actively inviting circular startups.
  • Provision of grant and subsidy information: Timely provision of information on grants and subsidies related to the circular economy.

Notes

This program primarily targets individuals considering starting a business in the circular economy field within Tokyo. However, those who have already started a business or are developing new business ventures in the circular economy within a company are also eligible to apply. If you are unsure whether you are eligible, please feel free to contact us for inquiries.

Frequently Asked Questions

What business areas does the circular economy field refer to?
The circular economy encompasses a broad range of businesses dedicated to evolving towards a sustainable economic and social system. This includes the development of recyclable and renewable materials, sharing and repair services, and digital platforms aimed at enhancing resource circulation. If you’re uncertain whether your business idea aligns with this field, feel free to reach out to our program office for guidance.
What are the eligibility criteria for the program?
Our program welcomes individuals who are either contemplating or actively planning to launch a business within Tokyo’s circular economy sector. This also includes those who have already established a business and are seeking additional funding or strategic partnerships.
Is it mandatory to launch a business during the program?
No, it’s not required to start a business while you are enrolled in the program. The program is designed to serve as a foundational phase for your entrepreneurial journey.
How often can I consult with mentors?
CIRCULAR STARTUP TOKYO offers three categories of mentoring support to foster diverse aspects of your business development:

  • Dedicated Mentors: Experienced professionals in startup development and investment, available for one-hour sessions monthly.
  • Circular Specialist Mentors: Founders and experts in the circular economy, providing up to three mentoring sessions.
  • Secretariat Mentors: Team members proficient in various circular economy aspects, available as needed.
Will there be assignments during the program?
Participants might receive assignments throughout the four lecture-based segments of the program. You’ll also be expected to present at the Interim and Final Demo Days.
Is there a fee to participate in the program?
Participation is free of charge. However, attendees are responsible for their own travel expenses to and from the program venue.
What is the maximum number of participants from each organization?
We allow up to two representatives from each organization to participate in the program.
Are there any specific skills required to join?
No particular skills are required. We welcome anyone passionate about venturing into the circular economy sector.
Can I participate if I have scheduling conflicts with the program?
While full attendance is ideal, we understand scheduling conflicts may arise. Lecture recordings will be shared, so please discuss with us individually if you’re unable to attend certain sessions.

Organizer × Tokyo

CIRCULAR STARTUP TOKYO is a project conducted by Harch Inc., in partnership with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. This initiative is part of the ‘TOKYO SUTEAM’ program, a startup support effort that involves a collaboration with various stakeholders in Tokyo.
Harch Inc.
Harch Inc.
TOKYO SUTEAM
TOKYO SUTEAM

Startup support and development projects by diverse actors

Program Partners

Archetype Ventures
Archetype Ventures
Biomimicry Japan Association
Biomimicry Japan Association
 BORDERLESS JAPAN CORPORATION
BORDERLESS JAPAN CORPORATION
Circle Design Inc.
Circle Design Inc.
Circular Design Studio (Shinto Tsushin Co.,Ltd.)
Circular Design Studio (Shinto Tsushin Co.,Ltd.)
CIRCULAR ECONOMY.TOKYO(Circular Economy.Tokyo Co., Ltd)
CIRCULAR ECONOMY.TOKYO(Circular Economy.Tokyo Co., Ltd)
City Lab Tokyo
City Lab Tokyo
The ECOZZERIA Association
The ECOZZERIA Association
3×3Lab Future (Operated by The ECOZZERIA Association)
3×3Lab Future (Operated by The ECOZZERIA Association)
Garbage School
Garbage School
GBP Laboratories, Inc.
GBP Laboratories, Inc.
Green innovation
Green innovation
Hakuten Corporation
Hakuten Corporation
Ishizaka Inc.
Ishizaka Inc.
Kamakura Investment Management Co.,Ltd.
Kamakura Investment Management Co.,Ltd.
KAYAC Inc.
KAYAC Inc.
Loftwork Inc.
Loftwork Inc.
Makaira Art&Design
Makaira Art&Design
Members Co., Ltd.
Members Co., Ltd.
NTT DATA Group Corporation
NTT DATA Group Corporation
O ltd.
O ltd.
PASONA JOB HUB
PASONA JOB HUB
SATO HOLDINGS CORPORATION
SATO HOLDINGS CORPORATION
SEMBA CORPORATION
SEMBA CORPORATION
Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, Limited
Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, Limited
Urbanist General Incorporated Association
Urbanist General Incorporated Association
Zero Waste Japan
Zero Waste Japan
*In alphabetical order

We are always welcoming new program partners. If you wish to participate in building an ecosystem from Tokyo to accelerate the circular economy in Japan and around the world, please contact us!

Media Partners