Japan shouldn’t try and replicate Silicon Valley to spur innovation, venture capitalist says

If Japan wants to spur innovation from startups, it shouldn’t try to replicate Silicon Valley. That’s the message from James Riney — head of venture capital fund 500 Startups Japan — to companies nationwide amid the increased attention given to startups. A former banker at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Tokyo, Riney said one way Japan can differentiate itself from foreign markets is through its graying population. He believes what’s usually seen as a weakness can turn into a strength as there are opportunities for startups to test technologies to solve problems that accompany an aging society. Japan is one of the first developed countries to face the aging crisis at scale. Riney believes that whatever Japan comes up with as a way to solve some of these issues can be exported to other markets because all the developed markets are going to experience the same thing. But traditional mindsets stand in the way — major firms tend to gain more respect and therefore attract more talent, whereas launching a startup has been deemed a risky career move.

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