Plug and Play partners with Japan’s biggest bank to launch Tokyo accelerator

By Jack Ellis For Tech in Asia

Silicon Valley-based Plug and Play has partnered with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial (MUFG), the financial services group that includes Japan’s biggest bank, to bring its combined startup accelerator and corporate innovation platform to the country.

Located in Tokyo, Plug and Play Japan is looking to work with domestic and foreign startups from any industry sector. Their technologies will be piloted with some of Plug and Play’s 33 Japanese corporate partners, which include Hitachi, Nissan, and Panasonic.

Replicating the Tech Center model it has developed in Silicon Valley, Plug and Play’s Japan operation will run multiple themed accelerator programs in Tokyo, each focused on a different vertical and lasting 12 weeks, in conjunction with various third parties. The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ – MUFG’s flagship retail, corporate, and investment banking brand – has signed up as the first of these external partners.

“We see a significant untapped opportunity to create an ecosystem where innovators in Japan can collaborate and generate new solutions for Japanese corporations,” Plug and Play Japan managing partner Phillip Vincent said in a statement. “By setting up shop in our Japanese partners’ backyard, we hope to bridge the gap between Silicon Valley culture and innovation and Japanese industry.”

In addition to its accelerator programs, which have helped over 6,000 startups to date, Plug N Play also makes investments. These include seed fundings linked to its accelerator programs as well as stage-agnostic investments for businesses that have already raised their seed round. Plug and Play states that it has backed around 600 companies that have gone on to raise a total of US$6 billion in venture funding. Dropbox, PayPal, and Zoosk are among Plug and Play’s most high-profile exits.

While it may be the first such player in the Japanese capital that provides a cross-industry, “end-to-end” model including investment and corporate partnering, a number of other accelerator initiatives have previously been established in the city. Among these are Code Republic, Open Network Lab, and Samurai Incubate, as well as corporate-led platforms such as Docomo Innovation Village, KDDI Mugen Labo, and MUFG Digital Accelerator.