Scrum Ventures
Published in

Scrum Ventures

Scrum Studio Concludes SmartCityX Global Open Innovation Program’s Inaugural Year

Earlier this summer, Scrum Studio held a virtual Demo Day to showcase the new initiatives that resulted from our first year of the global open innovation program, SmartCityX. The program was designed to support the creation of smarter urban areas by facilitating collaboration between leading Japanese corporations and participating startups that joined us from around the world.

The program attracted attention as an unprecedented initiative in Japan and grew to include eight partners, five supporters, six local governments/regional communities, and three resource partners, with many additional companies and local governments participating.

After the initial screening process, 95 startups from 20 countries and regions were selected and matched up with mentors.

Scrum led discussions to help define 3 key focuses and core values of the SmartCityX program that could inspire future city planning. The foundation is supporting innovative tech with a “people-first” approach.

3 Key SmartCityX Focuses:

  • Consumer Perspective — Focus on the needs of residents and citizens
  • Relevance and Application — Services that can meet challenges presented by various diverse regions
  • Business Implementation — Ideate with local governments and mentors on future commercialization and social implementation

SmartCityX Values:

  • Colorful — A city that values and celebrates diversity. This is a vibrant place in which residents can live the life they want in a meaningful way.
  • Perpetually Evolving — A city that continues to evolve through data-driven decisions. Rather than requiring people to conform to the city, the ideal urban environment adapts itself to suit the diverse needs of its residents.
  • Ownership — A city where all people feel vested in its growth and success, and opportunities to lead are accessible to all.

Takuya Miyata, Founder and General Partner of Scrum Ventures and Chairman of Scrum Studio, kicked off the opening session. “The mission of Scrum Ventures is to be ‘the OS for innovation’ that connects the world and Japan,” he said.

Keynote Speaker Program Mentor Sue Stash, General Partner of Pandemic Impact Fund.

“We’re focused on investing in resilience. And I think there’s a tech component in all of it. Maybe we need good IoT devices, for example, to know when things are going badly with bridges. There are so many places where we can get smarter and more efficient in how we look at infrastructure and how we graduate to the next level,” said Scrum Mentor and Keynote Speaker Sue Stash, General Partner of the Pandemic Impact Fund. “Many of the issues we’re talking about are planetary issues and understanding planetary requirements, so we need to learn from each other. For example, Japan is way ahead of us in understanding aging and demographic shifts. So let’s learn. Let’s collaborate.”

“I hope we get smarter about how we build businesses. I think we see some small shifts, but I’d like to see more. I think we need to set that trajectory. If we can set that over the next 12 months and ride that trajectory over the next 7 to 10 years, I think we’ll be a much better place.”

Our Demo Day Featured Six Outstanding Startups

  • Misapplied Sciences, creators of Parallel Reality™ Displays, which are smart monitors (such as transportation hub information screens) that can display information tailored to different users.
  • EVA, which provides advanced drone infrastructure. As Japan’s population ages ahead of the rest of the world, the cost of the last mile of logistics is enormous, but EVA’s technological revolution could bring shopping directly to the elderly in underpopulated areas.
  • Caspar.ai, which provides safe, healthy, and engaged living experiences for residents of retirement communities. The firm has created a system that uses sensors to check for potential issues that elderly clients may encounter, offering fall detection and a system to send notifications during accidents.
  • Electro-Active Technologies, which turns waste into energy to power cities. Electro-Active Technologies is working on the problem of food waste. Globally, $2.5 trillion is spent on food waste disposal, and at the same time, it accounts for about 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Electro-Active Technologies is working on a technique called microbial electrolysis, which breaks down the liquid part of food waste into protons and electrons instead of methane, and then recombines the protons and electrons in a cathode to make hydrogen. This system makes it possible to produce hydrogen with high efficiency and low impurities. The system is decentralized, meaning that instead of transporting food waste and the produced hydrogen to distant locations, the modules can be installed near waste treatment facilities near cities. This is a system that can be incorporated into many city systems in the SmartCityX project in Japan, and the possibility of collaboration with various Japanese companies is being explored.
  • Tomorrow.io, a weather intelligence platform for brands to see how weather will impact their businesses. The platform uses AI to analyze vast amounts of data to provide specific weather information. Tomorrow.io is the world’s only weather intelligence platform. 70% of businesses are affected by unstable weather and weather disaster risks. The various activities of cities are also greatly affected by weather which is an important topic for corporate CEOs and city managers.
  • Singular Perturbations, the developer of a crime prediction system and criminal risk hedging solutions, such as risk visualization, safe route proposals, security personnel planning and criminal factor analysis.

Business Co-creation Projects in the First Year Program

During Demo Day, the program also announced several startup services that have already begun testing. During the program’s inaugural year, each startup worked on developing a new service with the support and advice from program mentors, and tested in locations provided by local governments. The results were presented at our Demo Day:

(1) Regional Ecosystem “Smart Yorozuya” — Preventive Medical Care Base Using the SS Network

  • Participating companies/organizations: Idemitsu Kosan, Smart Scan, Inc. and Mie Prefecture
  • Summary: Smart Scan offers a smart medical checkup service that can be completed online, from booking, consultation, payment to notification of results. Their focus was to provide preventive medical care that can be accessed very easily by local residents. Their new service was a mobile clinic with a trailer in Toin Town, Mie Prefecture, that began on June 10. The company is considering expanding service-to-service station (SS) networks in other areas.

(2) Infection Control & Public Hygiene — Making cities cleaner and safer

  • Participating companies and organizations: Lion Corporation, East Japan Railway Company, Hakuhodo Inc., ExaWizards Inc.
  • Summary: This project is a “hygiene station” concept that visualizes hygiene awareness with data on hand sanitizing and other hygiene behaviors. It aims to encourage hygienic behavior in the city. By monitoring hygienic behavior at the station, which is a hub of transportation, it will highlight how people who use the station can mutually protect the hygienic condition of the city. This fall, there will be a demonstration station at a location owned by JR East.

(3) Disaster prevention solutions that encourages residents to change their behavior.

  • Participating companies/organizations: Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Company, Limited, Shibuya Ward, Tokyo
  • Summary: Based on Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance’s cmap, this project will work with Shibuya Ward to develop a disaster prevention application that can be used on a daily basis by local residents, including the elderly and young. A prototype will be ready by the end of FY2021 and used in Shibuya Ward.

(4) New Traffic Safety Measures for the Digital Age: New Traffic Systems Using Telematics Technology

  • Participating companies and organizations: Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Company, Limited, Fukui Prefecture, Fukui Prefectural Police
  • Summary: In order to solve traffic problems in the region, which is a priority issue for Fukui Prefecture, the telematics tag owned by Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance will be used to acquire driving data from drivers in the prefecture to detect areas of the region where there is risky behavior. After identifying areas that are accident-prone, the prefectural government and police will cross-reference the data with accident data held to try to proactively prevent accidents from occurring with traffic safety measures.

(5) Provide new value to Kashima Antlers fans and address regional issues in the hometown based on a trustworthy data distribution platform

  • Participating companies and organizations: Nihon Unisys K.K., Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Company, Limited, JCB Corporation, Miles, Kashima City Ibaraki Prefecture / Kashima Antlers FC Co.
  • Summary: Many of the fans who attend Kashima Antlers’ home games arrive in their own cars, and congestion in the surrounding area is an issue not only for fans but also for local residents. While effectively utilizing the Kashima Antlers brand, the project will revitalize the Kashima local industry through the sports team by encouraging the use of alternative transportation and commerce at nearby stores. “Dot to Dot,” a secure data distribution platform provided by Nihon Unisys, will be used to exchange data between businesses and services, and a mileage application provided by Miles, Inc. will be used to provide incentives to consumers.

(6) “Local Development” and “Regional Revitalization” to be realized through behavior change services for consumers

  • Participating companies/organizations: East Japan Railway Company, Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Co.,Ltd., Miles. In addition, Woven Planet Holdings and JR East have started a collaborative study on the theme of sustainable mobility in the region.
  • Summary: This is a co-development project for “JREAD,” an application that provides rewards according to consumers’ movement data via smartphones, with the aim of encouraging behavioral changes such as visiting stores one has never been to, choosing eco-friendly modes of transport, and utilizing data for local development. The project conducted experiments from February to March 2021, and confirmed the value of the service. Future business development is under consideration.

The team is looking forward to announcing future plans for the SmartCityX program so stay tuned!