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Innovation through cooperation – new success strategy for German and Japanese companies

Business Day Japan examines German-Japanese cooperation models

On 22 May 2017, mayor Thomas Geisel, Head of the Foreign Trade Department in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Energy and Industry of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia Dr. Herbert Jakoby, President of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Seiichi Kuroiwa and Japanese Consul General Ryuta Mizuuchi opened the Business Day Japan in Düsseldorf. This year the event, which has been held annually since 2002, was dedicated to "Innovation through Cooperation - New Success Strategies for Companies in the Digitized and Globalized Economy." Presentations and panel discussions focused on current developments, intelligent concepts and strategies as well as examples of successful cooperation in Germany and Japan.

Ryuta Mizuuchi, Japanese Consul General in Düsseldorf, emphasized: "In view of today's turbulent times in terms of global politics, German-Japanese cooperation is more important than ever. International competition are becoming more and more intense due to the involvement of the newly industrialized countries in the world market and increasing globalization. In order to survive this time, Japanese companies must be able to maintain their leading position in the world market with innovative technologies. I am keen to see how discussions at the event will provide a response to successful business activity in the digitized and globalized economy."

Mayor Thomas Geisel: "Digitization and start-up support are key issues for the economic development of a location – the city of Düsseldorf has been actively pursuing this development for several years. As a leading location for mobile technologies and hotspot of digitization in Germany and Europe, the best opportunities for cooperation between developers and users are available here. Both within the digital economy, as well as with companies from trade, services, crafts and industry."

Dr. Herbert Jakoby, Head of the Foreign Trade Department at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Energy and Industry of the State of North-Rhine Westphalia: "This year, Business Day Japan has taken up a very topical issue for Japanese and German companies. Digital change poses the same major tasks for the traditionally strong industrial companies of our two countries. Tackling them together promises more success than trying to go it alone. Cooperation is indispensable to open up new business areas and to advance technological innovations. NRW is very well placed to realize joint German-Japanese projects."

Seiichi Kuroiwa, President of the Japanese Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Düsseldorf, explained: "In a globalized and digitized world, the ability to remain innovative is increasingly decisive for the economic success of a company. This applies to both Japan and Germany. It is therefore all the more important to discuss how companies in both countries deal with this challenge. Business Day Japan offers an excellent opportunity at the "Japanese" location of NRW.

Specialist information, exchange and networks
The event was supported by experience reports from companies as well as lectures by high-ranking experts from science and industry. Prof. Dr. Holger Ernst of the WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Business – acted as moderator during the program: "Both as a scientist and as an entrepreneur, the event was a highlight for me, and it was extremely exciting to be able to examine the subject in its various facets and to learn about different perspectives."

Dr. Michael Brandkamp, CEO of the High-Tech Gründerfonds management, provided the basis for the subsequent panel discussion with his opening lecture "Cooperation between Japanese companies and innovative start-ups from Germany as a success factor". In an exchange with the head of the Digihub Düsseldorf Rheinland, Dr. Klemens Gaida, and the representative of the Japanese accelerator 01Booster, George Goda, the similarities and differences between the developments in the digital economy and start-ups were addressed.

The event was rounded off by six practical experience reports from representatives of German and Japanese companies. In various lectures in the fields of digitalization in the steel industry, autonomous vehicles of the future and transformation of Japanese family businesses, they showed how successful cooperation to promote innovative capacity and product development in Japanese and German companies functions.

"Good German-Japanese economic cooperation is a platform for future-oriented digital business areas and advances technological innovations. Numerous examples, e.g. in medical technology or in industry, are evidence of successful joint projects," explained Petra Wassner, CEO of the state economic development agency NRW.INVEST GmbH.

Business Day Japan has been an integral part of the Japan Day events since the beginning (in 2002) and offers a unique platform for a German-Japanese exchange given the strong Japanese company location in North Rhine-Westphalia and Düsseldorf.


Organizers: Ministry of Economic Affairs, Energy and Industry of the State of NRW, NRW.INVEST GmbH, Japan-Tag Düsseldorf/NRW e.V. (Japanese Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Düsseldorf, Japanese Club Düsseldorf) state capital city Düsseldorf

Partners: German-Japanese Business Association (DJW), Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Düsseldorf (IHK)

Sponsors: ANA All Nippon Airways Co. Ltd., Fujitsu Technology Solutions, The Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd., Commerzbank AG, Hitachi Europe GmbH, microPLAN SK.NET GmbH, Mitsui & Co. Deutschland GmbH, Mitsubishi Electric Europe B.V.