A proposal by the local government of Yokohama City to establish a “one-stop center” to support the testing of new proofs of technology in the city was approved in December, 2019 by the Council of National Strategic Special Zones headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The initiative and subsequent proposal was possible through Japan’s National Strategic Special Zones law which allows for the loosening of regulations in designated areas including Yokohama. This new center will be launched by the end of March, 2020.
The center will focus on near-future technologies like AI, IoT, Autonomous Vehicles, and drones, providing one-stop consulting services including procedural advice, coordination with regulatory authorities, testing field administration, and any other support needed to implement testing proofs of technology. Mayor of Yokohama Fumiko Hayashi commented, “I am sure the center will enable companies to test their new technologies more smoothly. I expect many companies will be able to make use of the center and various new business models will be created by them from Yokohama.”
Yokohama launched the IoT Innovation Platform (ITOP)Yokohama in 2013 and many ambitious projects have been generated using the platform since them. Autonomous smart ride-hailing service Easy Ride was tested by Nissan Motor and DeNA Co. Ltd. in 2019, and the “House of the Future” Project through which 10 industry partners have experimented in testing IoT smart homes was also developed through and enabled by ITOP Yokohama. In addition, Yokohama City has conducted more than 300 public-private pilot programs since 2008 and has been long recognized as a leading city in public-private collaboration. This new center is expected to accelerate innovation and add value to the innovative culture in Yokohama.
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