TBWA Hakuhodo is continuing to develop its connection to the startup space with the purchase of a 15 percent share in TechShop Japan, a workshop for product development.
TechShop Japan was established by Fujitsu in 2015 and is TechShop’s only outpost in Asia. The original TechShop began in California in 2006. It operates on a membership-basis and gives users access to tools and classes.
Working with startups is an important part of TBWA Hakuhodo’s business. Quantum, a subsidiary of the agency that works to connect startups and established companies, will act as a partner in this venture by supporting the development of new programs, according to a statement from TBWA.
The statement said the partnership aims to promote innovation by combining more traditional craftsmanship with technologies such as 3D printing and computer-aided design (CAD).
Chris Iki, COO of TBWA Hakuhodo, said he expected to “work with and guide some of the most innovative creators in Japan” and that the partnership “will also help harness a true ‘maker culture’ in our own company”.
TBWA Hakuhodo’s Quantum recently opened an office in the US. While Japanese corporations are increasingly interested in working with entrepreneurs, Japan has been criticised for its lack of support for startups and general innovation. Investment is small relative to the size and maturity of the economy. Startup funding totaled around US$1 billion in 2015, compared to more than $70 billion in the US. In a provocative talk in Tokyo last year, Sun Microsystems co-founded Scott McNealy suggested Japan may already have squandered its chance to be a leading global player in terms of innovation.