Launching “CIRCULAR STARTUP TOKYO,” a circular economy startup incubation program

February 22, 2024

As a partner of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s “TOKYO SUTEAM,” a startup support and development project by various entities, “CIRCULAR STARTUP TOKYO” will launch in April 2024. This program specializes in supporting startups focused on the circular economy.


CIRCULAR STARTUP TOKYO is a 5-month incubation program for those who aim to start a new business, create a new business, or raise funds in the circular economy field, which has recently been attracting attention due to climate change, loss of biodiversity, and increased risk of resource constraints.

The program provides business development support based on the realization of a circular value chain by enhancing the resolution of issues on the venous side, such as resource recovery and recycling, from the initial stages of planning and development of new materials, products, and services, with experts, researchers, and start-up entrepreneurs who are familiar with the circular economy as lecturers, mentors, and advisors. The program also provides support for business development based on the realization of a circular value chain.

The program provides support for business development with the premise of realizing a circular value chain by enhancing the resolution of issues on the venous side. This includes resource recovery and recycling from the early stages of planning and development of new materials, products, services, etc., with experts, researchers, and startup entrepreneurs familiar with the field of circular economy as instructors, mentors, and advisors.

In addition, the program will accelerate the construction of an ecosystem for the transition to a circular economy in Tokyo and Japan.

Background of the program

We have been working to promote the circular economy in collaboration with various stakeholders including corporations, local governments, financial institutions, and educational institutions through the operation of the Circular Economy Hub, a media platform specializing in the circular economy, and Circular Yokohama, a circular city transition platform in the city of Yokohama from 2020.

With the circular economy-related market expected to grow to approximately US$4.5 trillion worldwide by 2030 and from the current ¥50 trillion to ¥80 trillion in Japan, more startup companies need to be created to further accelerate the circular economy in Japan in the future.

On the other hand, the practical establishment of circular businesses encounters various barriers to both creation and expansion. These include unique challenges related to the transition to a new economic and social system. Such challenges encompass ensuring economic viability at each stage of the value chain, the expenses associated with forming diverse partnerships like dynamic alliances, industry-academia-government collaborations, and cross-sector cooperation, as well as legal and regulatory obstacles concerning waste materials.

Therefore, we have established CIRCULAR STARTUP TOKYO with the aim of overcoming these barriers and contributing to the creation of a circular ecosystem and startup companies for the transition from Tokyo to a circular economy in Japan and around the world by utilizing the networks we have cultivated through media operations and collaboration with companies, local governments, and universities. CIRCULAR STARTUP TOKYO was planned with this in mind.


1. Business development support for a circular value chain

In designing circular materials, products, services, and business models, it is important from the initial stages of planning and development to gain an accurate understanding of the current status of the venous industry, including resource recovery and recycling, and to take a systemic perspective in developing partnership-based businesses based on a circular value chain. CIRCULAR STARTUP TOKYO places the greatest importance on supporting business development that assumes a circular value chain.

2. Advice from entrepreneurs, experts, researchers, and investors with expertise in circular economy

CIRCULAR STARTUP TOKYO will provide lectures and mentoring for participants by more than 20 startup entrepreneurs and businesspeople, experts in various fields, university researchers, and investors who are well versed in circular economy and are active on the front lines of the field, as mentors and advisors. We offer a unique program that combines the usual startup business development and circular economy perspectives.

3. Fastest networking leading to start-up, business expansion, and fundraising

CIRCULAR STARTUP TOKYO will utilize Harch Inc.’s extensive domestic and international network in the field of circular economy, cultivated through the operation of its media business, to introduce corporate partners, demonstration fields, and grants that will lead to the fastest possible business development and expansion.

We will offer a range of matching and networking opportunities throughout the program. Additionally, on the final day, participants will have the chance to pitch their ideas to potential investors and media during Demo Day.

Program outline

  • Period: Tuesday, April 16, 2024 – Saturday, August 3, 2024
  • Contents:
    • Incubation (4 kick-off incubation lectures)
    • Mentoring (exclusive mentoring, specialist mentoring, secretariat mentoring)
    • Demo Day (interim and final)
  • Number of applicants: 10 groups (20 people, maximum 2 people per group)
  • Eligibility:
    • Those who are considering establishing a business in the field of circular economy in Tokyo.
    • In principle, participants must be able to attend all programs.
    • If participating as a group, a maximum of two participants per group are allowed.
  • Application period: Wednesday, February 21, 2024 – Friday, March 15, 2024
  • Screening method: Document screening and interviews
  • Operating company: Harch Inc.

About the briefing session

On March 7, we will hold a briefing session for prospective participants. Three of Japan’s leading circular economy policy makers, entrepreneurs, and investors will be invited as special guests to participate in a panel discussion on the theme of “The potential of the circular economy and expectations for startups.”

About program partners and media partners

CIRCULAR STARTUP TOKYO is looking for companies, organizations, investors, and media who are interested in working together to create startups, invest, and build an ecosystem in the circular economy field as partners of this program. Please feel free to contact us if you are interested in cooperating with the program.

[Reference] Launch of “CIRCULAR STARTUP TOKYO,” a startup foundation support program specializing in the circular economy in Tokyo. Call for Participants and Program Partners | Press release (in Japanese)
[Related Site] CIRCULAR STARTUP TOKYO (in Japanese)
[Related Site] Circular Economy Hub (in Japanese)