Get to know us: Hajimemashite

In Kobe, our mission is to ensure the city is a nurturing environment for innovators, so they have every chance to change the world.

To help create that environment, Kobe teams up with all manner of industries to help business dreams become a reality -- to help them not only grow, but thrive.

Bureaucracy can be counterproductive to innovation and flexibility, which is precisely what start-ups thrive on. In Kobe, we understand the importance of flexibility for the success of new businesses. Rather than requiring start-ups to adapt to Kobe, we adapt to the needs of start-ups.

A History of Innovation

We have a long history of breaking with convention in Kobe. The 500 KOBE ACCELERATOR collaboration is a great example. Kobe is renowned for being the first local government in Asia to collaborate with accelerators like 500 Startups on an international basis.

Likewise, Urban Innovation Japan is the first program of its kind in Japan. It’s a full-scale collaborative effort between the City of Kobe and private individuals, aimed at helping solve local problems. Many start-ups with great ideas will still fail because they’re unable to reach their market. With U.I.K., Kobe City can be your customer and assist you in pushing towards a national and international launch.

Kobe recently partnered with WeWork to launch a support program for startups. In any other city, you’re on your own to succeed. In Kobe, the entire city is designed to help support your success.

In short, in Kobe we believe allowing for and encouraging innovation can enrich all our lives. We believe the city can be a productive partner in that process, not by constraining new businesses with red tape, but by supporting them from day one.

KOBE City Team

MEET THE TEAM:

Japan: Kobe

New Business Promotion Division

Startup ecosystem Kobe program Debelopment, Promotion and Networking Team

Taku Takeda

Taku Takeda

Director

Director Takeda coordinates promotion of Kobe’s startup ecosystem, including the 500 Kobe Accelerator, Urban Innovation Kobe, and collaborations with the UNOPS Global Innovation Center in Kobe. Past experience with City of Kobe includes administration, planning, HR, and collaborating on administrative solutions with other companies and City of Kobe departments.

Hisashi Nakazawa

Hisashi Nakazawa

Project Manager of UIJ

Hisashi is project manager of Urban Innovation Japan. After gaining experience in an international based company and working on market development, corporate acquisitions, business planning, and professional management in the private sector, Hisashi became an employee of Kobe City.

Ritsuko Matsuyama

Ritsuko Matsuyama

Innovation Specialist

Ritsuko worked in MD at a major apparel company. Ritsuko then launched new brands and took charge of brand direction from concept design to sales strategy while working towards an MBA from a graduate school in Tokyo, joining us in August of 2019.

Yoshinori Nishikawa

Yoshinori Nishikawa

Innovation Specialist

Yoshinori used to work for international car brands, leading Southeast Asia market development, promotion, and sales. Impressed with Kobe City’s work on startup ecosystem development, he joined Kobe’s New Business Promotion Division in April 2020 and oversees several projects as project manager.

Atsunobu Kasagi

Atsunobu Kasagi

Innovation Specialist

Oversees the development of new business as well as the acceleration of U.S.-Kobe economic relations. Before joining us, Atsunobu worked on policy proposals regarding U.S.-Japan economic relationship at KEIZAI DOYUKAI (Japan Association of Corporate Executives).

Hideo Taniguchi

Hideo Taniguchi

Assistant Manager

Hideo began working at Kobe City Hall after 10 years of experience at a law firm. He currently leads the City of Kobe’s Startup Ecosystem Global Base and has also worked in the past with our planning department and international exchange programs.

Naoko karasuno

Naoko Karasuno

As a new graduate, she started working for Kobe City in April 2014. After working in the nursing care and human resources departments, she has been involved in startup support since April 2019.

Ai Endo

Ai Endo

Attended university in Washington as a student. In April 2016, she joined Kobe City as a new graduate. After being involved in the management of local exchange events and sports competitions, she was put in charge of startup support in April 2019.

Kana Iwashita

Kana Iwashita

Kana’s international work experience began in university with an internship in Florida. With City of Kobe, she has worked in the long term health care insurance department and on dispatch assignment with foreign-affiliated food corporations. Kana now leads City of Kobe’s startup ecosystem revitalization.

Japan: Tokyo

Marunouchi Office

Startup Ecosystem Kobe Promotion and Networking Team

Hiroshi Inui

Hiroshi Inui

Chief Evangelist

Chief Evangelist based in Tokyo with a mission to enhance Innovation Eco System in Kobe. Hiro has extensive management and corporate finance background with 17 years overseas experience.

Reiko Kuriyama

Reiko Kuriyama

Chief Evangelist

Came to us in 2019 from a food manufacturer, Reiko lives in Tokyo and is our Chief Evangelist. Leveraging her extensive experience from her previous jobs, she is involved in Kobe City's general public relations and tourism and immigration promotion. She specializes in business and product PR

USA: Silicon Valley and Seattle

Kobe Trade Information Office

Seattle and Silicon Valley Kobe Trade Information Office

In charge of Startups, incubators and accelerators from all of North America, and successful startup and venture relocation to Kobe City, Japan.

Masanori Nagamine

Masanori Nagamine

Director

When in the private sector, he managed computer system sales for local government for NEC. After that, at the Kobe City Hall, he was in charge of event planning, development support for nursing care robots and launch of medical related startup support programs.

Dawn Wyruchowski

Dawn Wyruchowski

Assistant Director

Dawn studied Japanese in high school, college, and abroad before teaching English for three years with the JET Programme in beautiful Yasugi, Shimane. As Assistant Director, she loves promoting Kobe’s diverse startup ecosystem and lifestyle.