Nasscom, Japan join hands to match startups and tech firms with VCs

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Industry body National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) and the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) have teamed up to bring more startups and technology firms in contact with venture capitalists and strategic partners from Japan. 

Nasscom, in line with its effort to cover more markets, has taken the the first steps towards facilitating contact between Indian and Japanese firms, and three startups have already received funding as part of the first round of interactions held last September. 

In India, earlier this month for a roadshow in Delhi and Mumbai, JETRO is aiming to identify and create more business opportunities for Japan in India, as part of the Japanese government’s initiative to bring more investments into the country. 

"We started (working with Nasscom) in 2014 or 2015. The initial idea of the partnership was to enhance Indian digital players like TCS, Wipro, Infosys and others, (and) to promote them to Japan's market. There is the Japanese promotion programme, keen to expand the bsuiness base in Japan," said Kazuya Nakajo, Executive Vice President, JETRO. 

Nasscom has been looking to expand into more markets to reduce its overdependence on US and UK, which together make up more than 70 per cent of its exports, as of last financial year. A part of this initiative is the Sino-Indian Digital Collaboration Opportunity Plaza (SIDCOP), a partnership between Nasscom and Chinese municipal governments, aimed at bringing Indian IT companies and Chinese enterprises closer on a digital platform. 

For Japan, the going has been relatively slower because of the country's cultural issues. However, the country has been looking for alternative investment sources after its move to negative policy rates in 2016 failed to raise inflation expectations. It also faces increasing competition from China. 

“There are many complementarities & drivers for Japan-India digital partnership - Demographic trends & low interest rate in Japan, respective capabilities on the hardware and software side, growth markets in India to name a few. All these create a favourable environment for enhanced cooperation between both the ecosystems and lasting partnership especially at the startup level. Japanese businesses that are looking to own piece of innovative businesses today cannot ignore growing Indian startup ecosystem," said Gagan Sabharwal, Senior Director, Global Trade Development at Nasscom.

The Japanese business community is realising more and more that they need to interact with startups inside and outside Japan, said Nakano. "There is strong awareness that India is one of the source of all these talented personnel, technology startups and such with a strong capability for information technology," he added. 

In September last year, Nasscom and the Japan VC Network held a two-day start-up pitch session at Tokyo, which brought together 26 technology startups from India who traveled to the city. These startups presented their ideas in front of more than 125 Japanese Institutional Investors in a live pitch session, and three of these- Medikabazaar, BlowHorn and Bulk MRO- have already raised funds from Japanese investors. 

While Japan is opening up now, it has traditionally been wary of countries with low intellectual property protection. However, unlike China, India is a free and open market economy, and offers a much better track record in IP protection, which is increasing investor confidence in the country.


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