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Japan’s Waseda University’s Start Up Nation Tour in Israel to Be Held in August

Waseda University in Japan is running the third annual Start Up Nation Study Tour of Israeli innovation

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Japan’s Waseda University


The third annual Waseda Marketing Forum tour of Israel will be held August 11-18. The Forum was established by Israelis and Japanese to create a place where professionals can share their knowledge and experience with peers in the Tokyo business community and with the students, faculty and staff of Waseda University.

The event, also called Start Up Nation Study Tour of Israel, aims to be innovative and global in scope, and is open to expatriate and Japanese business people as well as to Waseda personnel. There are two primary goals of each conference: to disseminate and discuss innovative developments in the field of marketing and strategy, and to provide an arena for attendees to network with each other.

The Forum anticipates that the programs it offers will create a virtuous cycle of involvement by the international business community, leading to corporate sponsorship opportunities.

The program’s founder, Professor Kenneth Alan Grossberg of Waseda University in Japan is running the tour for the third year in a row. He was inspired to establish it after reading the book Start-Up Nation by Dan Senor and Saul Singer. Grossberg saw that even after the Japanese translation of the book was published two years ago there is still a great deal of ignorance in Japan about Israel’s economic miracle.

In 2012 he decided to launch the first one-week tour as an introduction to Israel’s start-up ecosystem so visitors could personally experience how Israelis take risks, fail, but ultimately persevere until their original ideas they turn into profitable technological businesses. The Japanese find this new system of relying on the innovation of youth which does not rely on traditional authoritative structures, intriguing. In Japan, corporate culture practices deference to seniority, values consensus and tradition. This is in direct contrast to the Israeli start-up culture, which encourages questioning, exploring, youth and idiosyncratic or disruptive ideas.

Professor Grossberg has long maintained that Japan and Israel can be perfect partners in the innovation of new technologies. If only they would work together to leverage their respective competitive advantages.

Over the past three years, the Start Up Nation Study Tour has included among its participants a former head of Hitachi Asia-Pacific, officials from the beverage and food giant Suntory, the head of the London office of The Clinton Foundation, and the director of a university entrepreneurship center in Nigeria. The tour takes participants to visit companies such as Given Imaging, The Trendlines Group, Amdocs, and Mellanox Technologies. They also go to Haifa’s Matam Research Park, the Technion and Tel Aviv University incubators, as well as several kibbutzim where the visitors see agricultural and environmental advances.

Professor Grossberg has observed a rising Japanese interest in Israeli high-tech over the past year, stimulated in part by Rakuten’s acquisition of Viber. He is already making plans to offer the Study Tour again in August 2015.

Kenneth Alan Grossberg, Professor of Marketing and Director of the WASEDA Business School, has been active in international business and management education for almost 40 years. He earned a Ph.D. at Princeton University in Politics & East Asian Studies with his research carried out in part at the University of Tokyo and at Harvard University.

In 1980 he turned to the private sector and became the first investment banker at Prudential-Bache Securities to work on mergers and acquisitions in the Asian market. He left investment banking to establish Orient-West Consultants, Inc. whose clients over the years included Motorola, Tokio Marine, Metropolitan Life, Mitsubishi Electric, ESC Medical, and BusinessWeek.

In 1985 he joined Citibank as Vice President and Chief of Strategy for their Consumer Services Group International in the Asia Pacific region.



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