Program Outline

Aiming for the establishment of a Japanese-style innovation ecosystem in which technologies generated in universities can be widely utilized in society

■ Outline of START Program

The Program for Creating STart-ups from Advanced Research and Technology (START Program) assigns project promoter units who have commercialization knowhow. START Program is aiming at developing business/intellectual property (IP) strategies for technology seeds in universities that are risky but have great potential and commercializing them, by combining public funding and private sector commercialization knowhow even before start-ups are established. In this way, START Program is aspiring for making research achievements of universities and national research and development agency widely utilized in society and creating a Japanese-style innovation model that will serve as a sustainable mechanism.

The project promoter and researchers are jointly making a team including specialists such as entrepreneurs and IP specialists, and developing the optimal R&D strategy for commercializing the technology seeds (the commercialization concept)
Under the management of project promoter, the research team conducts milestone-based R&D considering the market needs (pre-venture activities)
Creation of academic start-ups with a high corporate value and the enticement of private sector funding through the implementation of the project are to be realized (launch and winning private investment)

Framework for START Program
START Program is composed of two types of support: the “Project Promoter Support Type” and the “Project Support Type.”

Framework for START Program

Project implementation imageCooperation between project promoters and researchers

Academic start-ups find it very difficult to develop distribution channels and markets, secure earnings, and raise money as they usually do not have enough expertise to create optimal commercialization concepts and IP strategies. In order to solve these problems, commercialization concepts and IP strategies are formulated with supports of the project promoter even before start-ups are established. Under the management of the project promoter, academic start-ups are trying to commercialize their technology seeds focusing on markets and exits.

Project implementation image

In principle, the START Program aims to establish academic start-ups in three years. The extension of support period is basically not allowed. However, according to subsequent screenings, if necessary, support may in some cases be extended to up to five years until proof of concept (POC).

The flow from application to project start
STEP1: Technology Seeds Application
Submission of 1st application form
University/national research and development agency researchers submit the 1st application forms to their preferable project promoter units through JST; this is the first step towards project implementation.
STEP2: Selection of Promising Seeds
Technology evaluation by project promoter
Upon receipt of the 1st application, the project promoters identify promising seeds with their own commercialization policies.
Implementation of Due Diligence
After that, the project promoters undertake further examination on the proposed projects.
At this stage, the university/national research and development agency researchers may be requested to submit further materials.
STEP3: Commercialization Plan Application
Preparation of 2nd application form
If the project promoters find that the proposed projects have the potential for commercialization, researchers further consider project development policies and R&D systems with support of the project promoters, in order to prepare documents for the 2nd application.
Submission of 2nd application form
University/ national research and development agency researchers prepare the 2nd application's documents with the project promoters and submit them to JST before the deadline.
STEP4: Project Screening
Project Screening
Based on the documents submitted in the 2nd application, project screening is carried out (documents/hearings) and a decision whether or not to provide support is made.
Project Start
After the projects have been selected, the costs for R&D and commercialization support are funded, and the projects are carried out under the management of the project promoters.
Outline of START Program

Outline of Project Support Type (FY 2017)

  • Target institution (the institution to which the research representative belongs): National, public, and private universities and colleges of technology, inter-university research institute corporations, or incorporated administrative agencies (including national research and development agencies).
  • The planned number of projects selected: In principle, 10-20 new projects per year will be selected.
  • Implementation period: In principle, no more than three years. Extension of this support period will not be allowed. However, the period can be extended to up to five years subject to the need to achieve proof of concept (POC) if allowed by START Program Promotion Committee.
  • Project scale: The basic annual budget is about 39million yen per project.
    *The actual amount to be allocated to each project will be determined based on the project promoter's judgment and the START Program Promotion Committee's evaluation and the project promoter's judgment.

Outline of Project Promoter Support Type (FY 2017)

  • The planned number of project promoter units selected: Four new project promoter units per year will be selected.
    *The actual number of them may vary depending on the situation such as the number of applications, project plans, etc.
  • Implementation period: Five years.
  • Project scale (per project promoter).
    The average budget for project-related activities: In principle, approximately 25 million yen per year.
    The planned number of projects handled: Approximately four to five.
    *It is for an indication only; it varies depending on the project promoter unit.
  • The number of selected project promoters: 18 promoters
  • Project Promoters selected in FY 2012 (7 units)

    Weru Investment Co., Ltd., JAFCO Co., Ltd., Japan Strategic Capital Co., Ltd. (formerly Tsukuba Technology Seed Co., Ltd.) , DBJ Capital Co., Ltd., The University of Tokyo Edge Capital Co., Ltd. (UTEC), Tohoku Innovation Capital Corporation (TICC), Bio-Sight Capital, Inc.

    Project Promoters selected in for FY 2013 (4 units)

    Watervein Partners, Inc., 360ip-Japan Inc., Nomura Holdings, Inc., Fast Track Initiative, Inc.

    Project Promoters selected in FY2014 (2 units)

    KSP, Inc., MedVenture Partners, Inc.

    Project Promoters selected in FY2015 (2 units)

    Beyond Next Ventures Inc., Industrial Growth Platform, Inc. (IGPI)

    Project Promoters selected in FY2016 (3 units)

    QBC LLC, General Partner Co., Ltd., NISSAY CAPITAL CO., LTD

    Project Promoters selected in FY2017 (4 units)

    Weru Investment Co., Ltd., JAFCO Co., Ltd., The University of Tokyo Edge Capital Co., Ltd. (UTEC), Bio-Sight Capital, Inc.

■ START Program Promotion Committee

In order to implement START Program effectively and systematically, the “Program for Creating STart-ups from Advanced Research and Technology Promotion Committee (START Program Promotion Committee)” has been established to screen and select project promoters as well as research projects, consider project-related implementation policy, and evaluate the START Program itself.