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Accelerator FAQ

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1. Who is eligible for the program?
  • Entrepreneur with an innovative technology ranging in Technology Readiness Level of 3-6 (refer to definition below).
  • All technology fields will be considered except projects requiring pharmaceutical/drug clinical trials (pre-clinical is eligible).
  • Both Japanese and international participants are considered.
2. What is Technology Readiness Level?

Technology Readiness Levels

TRL 0:
Idea. Unproven concept, no testing has been performed.
TRL 1:
Basic research. Principles postulated and observed but no experimental proof available.  
TRL 2:
Technology formulation. Concept and application have been formulated.
TRL 3:
Applied research. First laboratory tests completed; proof of concept.
TRL 4:
Small scale prototype built in a laboratory environment (“ugly” prototype).
TRL 5:
Large scale prototype tested in intended environment.
TRL 6:
Prototype system tested in intended environment close to expected performance.
TRL 7:
Demonstration system operating in operational environment at pre-commercial scale.
TRL 8:
First of a kind commercial system. Manufacturing issues solved.
TRL 9:
Full commercial application, technology available for consumers.

Reference: European Commission

3. How much funding can we receive?

3-10 million JPY for each project. The amount will be determined depending on projects.

4. Is there any rule for use of funds?

Funds can be used for:

  • Personnel cost (salary, housing, social insurance etc.)
  • Consumables
  • Outsourcing
  • Travel
  • Use will be subjected to OIST rules and regulations.
5. What resources does this program provide other than funding?
  • Lab space
  • Office space
  • OIST research equipment & resources
  • OIST research network
  • Business network with VCs and industry experts
  • Professional services from law firms and IP offices
  • Administrative services from OIST staff
  • Mentorship program and professional trainings:
    • Entrepreneurship Program (Lean Startup Program)
    • Business Planning
    • Project Management
6. Is there predetermined period of time for this program?

FY 2020 program dates are following:

  • Start date: April 1, 2020
  • End date: March 31, 2021
7. What is the application schedule?

Letter of Intent (LOI) due date: November 24, 2019 JST

Final results: Mid-February, 2020

8. What do we have to do for application?

Submit Letter of Intent by November 24, 2019 JST

9. What selection criteria do you have?
  • Commitment to project
  • Fit to OIST environment and resources
  • Technical merit
  • Market potential
  • Feasibility within program duration
  • Social impact on Okinawa, Japan, and the world
10. What if we only have an idea, but I don’t have technical expertise/skills?

We expect you to have the expertise and skills to develop your product/service by yourself. You must be a person (or team) with technical expertise/skills and entrepreneurial spirit.

11. Will you sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement?

No, we do not sign NDAs, but there is the informal commitment to secrecy on our application form.

12. What if I have team members?

We accept team applications. However, the maximum funding will be the same and you will have to manage your project within the budget; otherwise you will have to bear excessive expenses by yourself.

13. What does “commitment to project” mean?

You will be expected to be dedicated to establishment of a successful startup. To achieve that goal, we will ask you to relocate to Okinawa (near OIST), be a fulltime employee of OIST, participate in educational/training programs, and bring yourself to local events required during the program duration.

14. We’ve already been working on our startup. Can we still apply to your program?

If you plan to start a company in Okinawa or you relocate your company to Okinawa, Yes, you can still apply to our program.

15. We have already raised funding. Can we still apply to your program?

Yes, you can still apply to our program which will afford you additional financial, physical, educational support from OIST.

16. Can we participate without moving to Okinawa?

No, you cannot. Our program is designed to encourage entrepreneurs to work with us in person. You also have to be an OIST fulltime employee, and you will be expected to participate in trainings and events. We believe this is the key to launching a successful startup from this program.

17. Do we have to start a company in Okinawa?

You are expected to start a company in Okinawa. Our program provides all the support you need to start a business in Okinawa, including legal assistance.

18. Do we have to have Japanese citizenship?

No. You will be an OIST employee, and OIST will help you to get a working visa for the program duration. If you do not qualify for a visa, you will not be able to participate in our program.

19. How much equity do you take?

We do not take equity in this program.