Ph. D. Faculty of Business Administration of Hosei University
A large city like Tokyo plays a major role in fostering key players of new industry and sending them out into domestic and international communities. We interviewed Kyosuke Inagaki, a professor of business administration at Hosei University who specializes in the theory of enterprise creation and small businesses, about the unique incubation hubs around Tokyo and his proposal for developing small and venture businesses in Tokyo.
Q: Can you give us a brief explanation of your current research?
A: I conducted field research on collaboration and cooperation within creative industries and between creative industries and other industries for 10 years in Osaka. The research focused on urban industrial development by creative industries support organizations and I witnessed the transformation of how local creators build horizontal relationships with other creators and collaboration systems with local manufacturers. The important role of the support organizations shifts from entrepreneurial support to fostering producers. The role is not limited to just helping build self-sustaining businesses or connecting them with necessary management resources. I also found out that producers’ collaborative mindset and know-how spread across the industries through events and projects, and that they attract people with more advanced collaborative ability to create entrepreneurial opportunities, thus revitalizing local industries.
Q: Do you think attracting creators who can provide support to making things and initiating collaborations between different industries are also feasible in Tokyo?
A: Community of creators in Tokyo, such as Taito Designers Village and Sumida Creators Club, is an example of collaborative system that leverages existing local resources in a new and different way. I believe that movements to create collaborative communities that are more than just an office for rent or an incubation center will continue to spread across Tokyo.
Q: Hosei University has students from around the country. What is your teaching philosophy?
A: My students tend to take an interest in the latest technologies and products created by high-tech ventures, but I try to direct their attention to traditional industries by shifting their interest from products to business mechanism. For instance, I encourage them to find new values in existing commodities and industries, such as shopping streets and traditional industries, and learn a mechanism to expand the values. I hope I’m fostering producers who play an important part in revitalizing local communities. As the domestic demand continues to fall, incorporating foreign demand into Japan is becoming increasingly necessary. I hope to see my students working as key players outside Japan. My mission is to foster a strong sense of leadership in my students to transform both domestic and international communities.
Q: What do you think of Tokyo’s appeal from a perspective of industrial development of small businesses?
A: Tokyo is the most diverse city in Japan in terms of people and values and has the most favorable conditions to draw people, money, knowledge, and information. However, at the same time, there is a drawback that differences in business practices and communication as well as barriers between organizations and industries, including large corporations, venture businesses, nonprofit organizations, and universities, are dividing usable resources. If we don’t overcome these barriers, it is impossible to generate synergy effects. Nonetheless, I’m paying close attention to the trend that large corporation around the world are actively investing in different ventures and the trend is seen in Tokyo now. This is because a city’s fundamental industrial competitiveness plays an important role in not only creating venture businesses but also establishing an ecosystem that incorporates the business growth as today’s corporate activities are going global.
Q: You talked about overcoming barriers in the previous answer. What do you think Tokyo should aim at in order to make a further development?
A: As the central Tokyo area has an increasing number of people who are moving back to the area and tourists who are visiting the area, it is necessary to make the living environment more attractive. I expect that growth and revitalization strategies that take advantage of the appeal and characteristics of each community will become increasingly vital. With a central focus on communities sharing challenges and a sense of crisis, mobilizing a number of resources that local small businesses, large corporations, government, and educational institutions have and collaborating with nonprofit organizations and freelancers in an effort to address the challenges will drive the creation of new industries in the future. In order to advance such effort, human resources capable of overcoming the barriers to create new values and systems from an objective point of view will become indispensable. I believe that educational institutions like universities will have a considerable part in developing such human resources.