The Yokohama Industrial Development Corporation (IDEC Yokohama) has been hosting the Yokohama Business Grand Prix since 2003, a business plan competition to support entrepreneurs and business ventures in the city. The final presentation round of the Yokohama Business GP 2019 was hosted at the Landmark Tower in the heart of Minato Mirai 21 on February 23, attracting more than 250 spectators. A total of 10 contestants, 7 in the general category and 3 in the student category, presented in the final round. These contestants were chosen from a total of 117 proposals (82 in the general category and 35 in the student category) submitted to IDEC Yokohama this year.
The Grand Prix went to Rieko Ogura of Yokohama Bio Technology Company, Limited, a Yokohama National University spin-off, who presented her business plan for screening and evaluating next-generation plant activators. The general category award went to Akiko Kaneko of Aventino, Co., Ltd. who pitched her idea for a hair care platform for women, and Saori Kato of Kokushikan University won both the student category award and audience award with her idea for a novel education program to help boost academic achievement of children in foster care. The special award for women entrepreneurship went to Wakae Kuwako, an entrepreneur who has launched multiple education and family-support businesses throughout her career. She proposed a career design service for early childhood professionals. Each of the finalists received a cash prize of up to 1 million JPY and will continue to receive backup support from IDEC Yokohama in commercializing their business ideas. This was the first time in the history of the event that all five awards went to women.