On January 7, the City of Yokohama officially declared itself an “Innovation City” in front of an enthusiastic crowd of local businesses and entrepreneurs. Mayor Hayashi’s declaration comes amid the clustering of R&D focused companies in the waterfront, a growing number of venture firms setting up office in the Kannai area, and a steady growth of innovation-inducing human capital in the region, such as engineers, entrepreneurs, and business development managers of major corporations. The City of Yokohama has been working on building communities that connect innovative minds in local businesses, universities and research institutions and building an environment for collaboration. The declaration will act as a basis to further accelerate these citywide efforts. The city plans to work with stakeholders to promote networking and exchange among innovative talent, invest in education, and create spaces for new business formation and growth.
A well-known business figure who led multiple large companies earlier on in her career, Hayashi has been strongly committed to maximizing Yokohama’s economic potential. In her declaration speech, she pledged to give her full support to innovators who choose to grow their global business aspirations in Yokohama, emphasizing that human capital is the most essential piece in promoting innovation. Hayashi also pointed to the openness of the port city as well as its ample amenities and entertainment options, often cited by expatriates among the advantages of locating in Yokohama.
Startup owners who participated in the event shared their own ideas on why they think Yokohama is an ideal place for innovation. Some pointed out the accessibility to Tokyo and reasonable rent, some mentioned the chic and trendy image that the city embodies, and others pointed to the large conference and exhibition halls within walkable distance where businesses and researchers gather from all over the world.
A lot of excitement is building up as Yokohama steps up its efforts in business innovation.