Kobe city supports Startups in Fight Against COVID-19

Kobe Backs Startups in Fight Against COVID-19

In recent years, Kobe has been investing in entrepreneurs and start-ups in line with several goals that include revitalising the economy and bolstering key city industries such as the medical one.

The spread of new COVID-19 is having and has already had a significant and potentially unprecedented impact on the day to day lives of people and is changing the way businesses and governments operate by redefining roles and priorities. In light of recent developments, Kobe city is shifting the focus of its startup initiatives to entrepreneurs and companies that can provide solutions to the emerging challenges presented by COVID-19.

This first step taken by the city was the establishment of a JPY 500,000 fund and program that aims to provide creative solutions to key city issues by fostering collaboration between city employees with a deep knowledge of city functions, local startups, engineers, and NPOs. The program is the first of its kind to be started in Japan by a government body. It was announced that the theme for the first outing of the program will focus on challenges relating to COVID-19 such as data analysis, infection confirmation technologies, and support for effected businesses and civic life. The program will run over a four month period and will include testing and initial implementation and aims to create practical services that will benefit residents going forward.

The city has also recently announced that the theme of its now five year old, 500 Kobe Accelerator program will support the growth of startups aspiring to develop new technologies or to provide solutions that leverage existing technologies to address the economic and social issues that have arisen due to COVID-19. Collaborating with venture capital ‘500 startups’ based out of Silicon Valley in the United States, the program is the first of its kind in Japan and is growing in popularity with over half of the 174 applicants in 2019 coming from abroad. The program which usually takes place in Kobe, will this year be conducted entirely online this June/July over a six-week period.

This year’s program is looking for startups who can offer innovative solutions to issues such as disease testing, emergency information transmission and false information detection, solutions for personal hygiene, disinfection and public safety, geo-tracking during a disaster, and safe food supply and delivery technology. Post COVID-19 challenges such as, remote-work and e-learning, online event management and operations, medical data sharing and privacy protection, health management, and automation and sensor technology will also be focus areas.

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