METI Held the “Zest Thailand ―Thailand-Japan Fast Track Pitch Event 2023―” in Bangkok to Accelerate Global Open Innovation of Japanese Companies/Startups
August 8, 2023
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), co-organizing with PTT Public Company Limited (PTT Group), the Thailand Board of Investment, and Ministry of Energy of Thailand, held the “Zest Thailand ―Thailand-Japan Fast Track Pitch Event 2023―” in Bangkok to accelerate global open innovation of Japanese companies and startups.
METI and JETRO, co-organising with PTT Public Company Limited (PTT Group), the Thailand Board of Investment, and Ministry of Energy of Thailand, held the “Zest Thailand ―Thailand-Japan Fast Track Pitch Event 2023―” (the "Zest Thailand") in Bangkok on August 7th.
In front of more than 300 participants (more than 170 in-person and more than 130 online), 17 startups from Japan, Thailand, and other regions presented their proposals on the open innovation challenges provided by the 7 challenge owners, including Japanese companies and the PTT group companies.
Prior to the presentations, Mr. NISHIMURA Yasutoshi, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan, Mr. NASHIDA Kazuya, Ambassador of Japan to Thailand, Mr. Kulit Sombatsiri, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Energy, and Dr. Buranin Rattanasombat, Chief New Business and Infrastructure Officer of PTT Public Company Limited, gave opening remarks, stressing the importance of strengthening cooperation for the creation of innovation between the two countries.
(Left) Minister Nishimura, METI
(Center) Mr. Sombatsiri, Ministry of Energy
(Right) Dr. Rattanasombat, PTT Public Company Limited
2. Pitch session by the finalist startups
During the application period, about 110 startups from all over the world submitted proposals to challenges provided by challenge owner companies, including 4 Japanese companies and 3 PTT group companies. From among these, the following 17 startups selected as finalists by each challenge owner presented their proposals.
Please refer to JETRO's special website for the detailed challenge statements and finalist startups.
3. Panel discussion sessions
In addition to the pitch session, at the Zest Thailand, leading Japanese companies and PTT group companies which are keen to generate innovation discussed their strategies and projects at panel discussion sessions. These sessions were opportunities to facilitate open innovation with these companies.
4. Networking session
At the pitch event venue, participants, including challenge owners, startups, VCs, accelerators, government organizations, and co-organisers, actively engaged in the network session and built networks with other participants.
5. Co-organizers and Supporters
Zest Thailand, the second Fast Track Pitch Event, was co-organized by METI, JETRO, and the Embassy of Japan in Thailand from Japanese government, and PTT Public Company Limited (PTT Group), the Thailand Board of Investment, and Ministry of Energy of Thailand from Thailand, with extensive support from about 40 supporting companies and organizations.
6. (Reference) About the ASEAN-Japan Co-Creation Fast Track Initiative
In ASEAN, which is expected to become a growth center driving the world economy, leapfrogging startups have been creating many innovations that solve societal issues by utilizing digital technology in a wide range of fields such as logistics, payments, and finance. In addition, due to the young population structure and rapidly rising income levels, the size of the middle-income population that enjoys an affluent consumer lifestyle, especially in urban areas, is increasing.
For Japanese companies, it is becoming crucial to develop strategic collaborations with startups that are achieving rapid growth so that they can incorporate innovations that are newly created in the ASEAN region and improve their competitiveness in the growing ASEAN market.
With this understanding, and taking the opportunity of the 50th anniversary of ASEAN-Japan friendship and cooperation this year, METI and JETRO have decided to launch the “ASEAN-Japan Co-Creation Fast Track Initiative” to support the creation of open innovation through collaborations between startups and large companies from both ASEAN and Japan. This initiative proposes a new format of cooperation with ASEAN countries to create new innovations.
In June, 2023, JETRO signed an MOU with ASEAN-BAC for cooperation to promote the ASEAN-Japan Co-Creation Fast Track Initiative.
(Reference) Press release by JETRO
Under the ASEAN-Japan Co-Creation Fast Track Initiative, startups from ASEAN and Japan will have the opportunity to (1) receive support not only from Japanese organizations such as JETRO, but also from the government agencies of ASEAN countries, and (2) access not only major Japanese companies but also a wide range of startup ecosystems, including global companies based in ASEAN.
Moreover, finalist startups will receive additional points in the selection process in the Asia Digital Transformation (ADX) Promotion Program to support their PoCs.
(2) Past event of the Fast Track Pitch
In Singapore, the first "Singapore-Japan Fast Track Pitch Event" was held on April 20th, co-organized with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Enterprise Singapore, and Singapore Economic Development Board.
For more information on the Singapore-Japan Fast Track Pitch Event and the challenges, please refer to the press release below.
- METI held the “Singapore-Japan Fast Track Pitch Event” in Singapore to accelerate global open innovation of Japanese companies/startups
(3) Schedule of the future events
The future rounds of the Fast Track Pitch Event will take place in Jakarta, Indonesia, on September 1, and Hanoi, Vietnam, on November 3.
- Indonesia-Japan Fast Track Pitch Event 2023
- Vietnam-Japan Fast Track Pitch Event 2023 *Website is under preparation. Details will be announced at JETRO website as soon as finalized.
Division in Charge
Asia and Pacific Division, Trade Policy Bureau