Known for its ageing population as well as its disruptive technology, Japan is compelled to invest in MedTech

MedTech is a promising revolution in Japan

With a quarter of its nationals over 65 years old, Japan’s is the oldest world population; hence, the resulting demographic gap is a constant preoccupation for its government, as birth rates are steadily low and immigration is difficult due to cultural and administrative barriers. The ‘generational’ challenge has reached a key level: while in the foreseeable future a growing number of elderly people will require more care, there will just not be enough caretakers.

As the healthcare system is facing ever-stronger financial and social pressure, the development of innovative MedTech alternative solutions is critical to address the issue. Which is why research in fields including artificial intelligence and virtual reality is topping the priority list of innovators, as well as corporations and investors.

According to a recent McKinsey report, MedTech may not only help solve healthcare problems but also induce more competitivity and productivity in the country. After all, Japan is the third largest medical device producer globally, though it is still struggling to be among the most innovative technology-driven ones. Capital is available – Japanese companies hold an estimated US$ 2,4 trillion in cash, just waiting to find the right investment.

Over three-quarters of the top 20 largest companies in Japan are already investing or making acquisitions in the sector. In the last few years, alongside the major automotive industry giants, blue chip corporations including Canon, Konica and Nikon have invested billions in healthcare technology.

While the market has been moving, other stakeholders are pushing forward their Research and Development policies in order to build resources for the upcoming MedTech revolution. Initiatives like Japan Biodesign, a medtech fellowship program which gather universities to support aspiring innovators, and the Japan Organization for Medical Device Development (JOMDD), a private venture firm and incubator focused in medtech projects, are only two examples of the efforts that many actors are now putting into the sector.

Yet, there are some challenges the MedTech revolution has to overcome before it turns into reality. Most importantly, Japan, where failure is not an option, must significantly foster and stimulate entrepreneurial spirit, without which no new business can survive and succeed.

MedTech is one of the main topics of discussion at SIGEF, the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum, which will take place in Tokyo on 18-19 September, 2019. Want to know more about this game changing event? Click here to register!

Focused on 3 Sustainable Development Goals, the Future Here Summit invited social good doers, innovators and artists to re-imagine a new Renaissance – one involving technology.

Horyou team presenting the social network for social good to the Future Here Summit audience. Image Credits to Anna Rosa Paladino for TIAC Academy.

Let’s fast forward and think of a world without inequalities, where innovation is a core element in all enterprises and society is built on partnerships for good. This is not Utopia – all the aforementioned scenarios actually come under three of seventeen United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

The 3 SDGs – Reduced Inequalities; Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure and Partnership to Achieve the Goals – , were the main focus of the Future Here Summit, an event focused on re-imagining the next generations from a ‘Renaissance’ viewpoint. Unsurprisingly, Florence, birthplace of the eponymous artistic avant-garde movement, was the venue. While addressing issues including Augmented Intelligence, Energy, Nature, Sustainable Development and Education, the event had both on-site and virtual panels and sessions, whereby artists, entrepreneurs, visionaries and academics were invited to exchange ideas and expectations for the future.

Horyou, the social network for social good, contributed to one of the sessions with an inspiring presentation of its role in empowering change-makers. Speaking for Horyou, Sueyfer Velásquez, Social Media and Partnerships Manager, introduced the network to a diverse and curious audience. «It’s a very powerful experience to share our vision for a better world in the birthplace of Renaissance», she said. Seizing the opportunity, Sueyfer went on to introduce HoryouToken, the first digital currency for economic inclusion and advancement of the SDGs, along with HoryouTV and SIGEF, the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum, which will take place on 18-19 September, in Tokyo, Japan.

In addition to the conferences, the Future Here Summit incorporated Orbit, a dedicated incubator for the development of «experiential wisdom tools and businesses» where art, science and businesses were welcome to help promote inclusive growth.

The Japanese Capital supports startups, public policies and innovative ideas to help solve the transportation challenge

Each day, 20 million commuters leave their houses to go to work in one of the trains of Tokyo’s metropolitan area. The figure is impressive, and it represents only a part of the challenge that the city, which is home to more than 13 million people, is facing. Yet, Tokyo also has one of the most efficient and innovative transportation systems in the world, which places it in the smart cities’ Olympus.

Thus not surprisingly, Tokyo will be hosting the Summer Olympic Games next year, and the Japanese authorities are making important efforts to improve intramuros mobility. Since planning is key, a few years ago the government started to stimulate and support innovative projects which would bring greener and smarter solutions to that particular challenge.

The results are already showing: projects like “Condition-Based Maintenance” use Internet of Things (IoT) technology to collect and analyze data pertaining to the Yamanote Line, one of the busiest train rings in Tokyo, in order to forecast failures and identify weaknesses, and hence to reduce the need for maintenance closures. The city has also set a bold objective in terms of the environmental impact of its transportation system: bring down carbon dioxide emissions to 25 percent by next year.

The entrepreneurial landscape is also bustling in Tokyo, as projects like autonomous driving, transportation apps and shared mobility start to flourish. Even private companies from traditional industries like Mori, an urban developer based in Tokyo, are investing in on-demand transit technologies for its employees. By using a mobile app which calculates and optimizes commuting routes, they can share cars and give rides.

A recent McKinsey report has calculated that the taxi market alone accounts for more than USD$17 billion, which has attracted companies like Uber but also caught the attention of other investors. Last year, the city’s first autonomous taxi was launched as a pilot project, which is intended to be fully operative during the Olympic Games. Financed by the metropolitan government, the project is projected to be affordable and safe with sensor-equipped vehicles that operate in full autonomy while a driver is at the wheel to attend to emergencies.

Smart transportation is one of the major investments in Japan, as the country faces a series of demographic and economic shifts, requiring new solutions and regulations. Air mobility is another one. Japan is an insulated country with restricted land mobility. Via its Future 2018 Investment Strategy, the Japanese government has set up a roadmap for the development of flying vehicles, which has already attracted several startups and innovative minds.

Are you interested in Smart Technology, Mobility and Smart Cities? Register for SIGEF, the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum, which will be held in Tokyo on 18-19 September 2019. Experts, officials and entrepreneurs from all over the world will discuss new trends in transportation and disruptive technologies for the future of our cities.

To governments, international institutions and the scientific community, Artificial Intelligence represents hope for sustainability and quality of life for all. The 3rd edition of the AI For Good Global Summit, a yearly event organized by the International Telecommunication Union’s, a UN agency, will be held in Geneva on 28-31 May to discuss the role of AI for Social Development and Social Good. Horyou blog spoke with the Head of the Strategic Engagement Division of ITU, Frederic Werner, about the expected outcome of this initiative.

AI for Good Summit will take place in Geneva from 28-31 May

How can AI help society to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals?

AI has enormous potential to help accelerate progress towards the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals by capitalizing on the unprecedented quantities of data being now generated in all areas, including human health, education, commerce, communications, migration and much more. Leaders in AI and humanitarian action are convening on the neutral platform offered by the United Nations to work towards AI improving the quality and sustainability of life on our planet.

It’s the 3rd edition of the AI for Good Global Summit. What has changed since the first edition?

The 2017 summit marked the beginning of a global dialogue on the potential of AI to act as a force for good. The action-oriented 2018 summit gave rise to numerous ‘AI for Good’ projects, including an ‘AI for Health’ Focus Group, now led by ITU and the World Health Organization (WHO). The 2019 summit will continue to connect AI innovators with public and private-sector decision-makers, building collaboration to maximize the impact of ‘AI for Good’.

Could you mention some of the educational tools the Summit will offer to its participants?

The AI for Good Learning day will take place on Friday 31 May. It is made up of workshops, tutorials, and educational sessions through three full-fledged tracks targeting businesses, the public sector and youth. The participants will learn about the latest AI trends, use cases and solutions to major societal challenges.

Horyou is a media partner of AI for Good Global Summit.

Venture capital is looking more into your company’s sustainability performance

Impact investing: money with purpose

Sustainability in general, and The UN Sustainable Development Goals in particular, make for good business. And some investors have recognized that for quite some time – since 2004, to be precise. When the UN started conversations with a number of global stock exchange operators, corporate social responsibility hit the radars of listed corporations. In 2012, Nasdaq (USA), B3 (Brazil), Johannesburg Stock Exchange (South Africa), Borsa Istanbul (Turkey) and The Egyptian Exchange made a public commitment to advance sustainability in their markets. It was the first step in the Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative (SSE), a UN-led global movement which now counts more than 80 members from all continents.

In the past few years, the SDGs have boosted the discussion on corporate sustainability and the role of companies in building a better business culture with a stronger positive impact on society. More importantly, the SDGs were eventually adopted by many companies to be an integral part of their sustainability plans as a major performance target. Since then, a number of studies have related SDGs to business performance, proving that gender equality, investments on education and fair wages lead to a more competitive society and, thus, to more sustainable businesses.

More recently, venture capitalists have been looking more closely into sustainability practices before deciding which companies to invest in. With the help of UN agencies, Social venture funds and social impact-driven investors networks were set up to prompt companies into improving their CSR practices while pursuing their profit-making operations. The recently launched UNDP SDG Impact program is a good example of how to channel private investment and capital to meet the SDGs, via providing funders with roadmaps and data on the best investment plans.

Initiatives like HoryouToken are also a worthwhile alternative for all investors to consider, from big corporations to private investors, owing to its Blockchain technology which provides transparency and traceability with proof of impact, resonating with the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainability is now. It’s profitable, it can help change the world and build better times for all.

Artificial Intelligence means new perspectives for governments and corporations… and everybody else

Technology has answered many humanitarian challenges, trying to foster inclusion at a pace that was unimaginable only a few decades back

After years of covering some of the most important technology events in the world, I was happy to witness the rising of AI for Good. While 2018 saw a burgeoning approach to Artificial Intelligence as it became the central theme of a few panels in major global forums and conferences or a key resource in innovative projects developed by a still modest yet resilient number of blue chip corporations, 2019 has obviously given the subject its momentum. AI is a market expected to grow from USD 21.46 Billion in 2018 to USD 190.61 Billion by 2025, and AI for good seems to be the new frontier to explore, according to a McKinsey studyFrom startups to established tech operators and from governments to social entrepreneurs, it suddenly seemed like the whole tech industry was finally on the right launch pad to propose devices and services that improve both our lives and natural or manmade environments and, ultimately, preserve the planet.

Education is one of the industries that have been positively impacted by AI and has potential to grow 38% per year, reaching an approximate market value of 2 billion USD by 2023. Gamification, along with assessment and tutoring programs are being widely implemented by corporations and governments to boost learning ratios, even in remote impoverished or isolated communities while reducing costs and, eventually, helping attain the related UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4). Now quality education seems indeed a reachable objective where it is most needed. Robots are taking center stage in educational projects, whether to teach students about coding and AI or to coach them, thus improving their level of interest in technology-related topics.

For governments, AI has proven effective in security projects, helping cities to secure big events through improved surveillance, using connected devices including drones, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi devices to better control road traffic or the air quality. Cities like Barcelona and São Paulo have been forerunners in that regard, while making sure their policies meet the aims of the related UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG11), specifically recommending the implementation of smart city policies.

Another major concern relating to sustainable development being population welfare, especially regarding food security, smart farming strategies are at the center of many country agricultural sustainable improved productivity programs, one of the biggest concerns of our times. AI for farming, include IoT, is a promising market and, only in the US, is adopted by 250,000 farmers, who are collectively spending almost 1 billion USD. And that’s in line with the UN SDG2. Producing food for an ever-increasing population in times of dramatically severe climate change certainly is the ultimate challenge of our society – and AI is indeed offering a highly estimated contribution. Companies that monitor crops and livestock, and those that are in the business of optimizing the efficiency of health plans, are part of the same trend, which otherwise rely on complex microclimate predicting algorithms and communication tools reaching out to farmers, providing them with more accurate information.

In a nutshell, AI for Good is good. In times when competitiveness, productivity and transparency are inevitably defined in terms of sustainability, they have no other option but to be intrinsically connected to smart, clean and socially impactful devices and services. Technology has answered many humanitarian challenges, trying to foster inclusion at a pace that was unimaginable only a few decades back. It is now the appropriate time to look at AI, as well as at its developers, and consider them as allies in the process of shaping a better world.

Join us! If you want to showcase your product, service or project in AI for Good, apply to speak at SIGEF 2019.

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Known for its ageing population as well as its disruptive technology, Japan is compelled to invest in MedTech With a quarter of its nationals over...