Japan

From 0 to 200 start-ups in 24 months at UNSW

 Guest post by Josh Flannery,  Manager, Student Entrepreneur Development , University of NSW. Josh has a Master of Business & Technology (AGSM), a degree in Communications and has worked across Asia in both Startups and Commercialisation roles including 6 years in Japan, and 2 years in China & Hong Kong as Senior Regional Manager, China for Macquarie University. In 2005 Joshua Co-founded edtech company StudyLink株式会社, the Asia based sister company to Learning Information Systems Pty Ltd and also ran a boutique education consultancy in Japan, InterCreations, with fellow Japan guru Jeremy Breaden.

Josh has developed and launched the student enterprise program at UNSW which has helped launch early-stage start-up ventures for ~200 student entrepreneurs. If you want to get involved as a mentor, industry partner or a sponsor you can connect with Josh on Linkedin.

Introduction

The title of this article is a little misleading as start-ups have been coming out of UNSW for many years prior, however, in the last 2 years something different has been going on at UNSW to encourage, support and champion over 200 new start-up projects led by students or recent alumni.

There is no solid data to know for sure, but we have a hunch that this is the highest number of start-ups from any university during a 2 year period nation wide. It’s almost certainly more than any other 2 year period in the history of UNSW.

So what are we doing differently?

UNSW Startup - Smart Sparrow

UNSW Startup – Smart Sparrow

Know the role of the university within the start-up ecosystem

There is a trend in Australia to take a proven or traditional accelerator program model and replicate it on a university campus. Now this model certainly has merit and has its place in the ecosystem. In our case, we saw an abundance of excellent accelerator programs within 15 minutes drive of our campus so recreating the same model on campus would not be creating a new value proposition for our student entrepreneurs. More likely it would attract the start-ups who did not get into the city based brand name programs and the mentors that did not get chosen by the well established programs using the same model.

We see the role of the university in this ecosystem as primarily for providing cross-faculty (read complimentary skill sets), “learning by doing” experiences for self-selected students with a real interest in entrepreneurship. It is to fill the gap between first time entrepreneurs still studying (or recently graduated) and teams with validated ideas who are at the point where they are finally ready to pitch for entry into an accelerator program.

No one is knocking an on campus accelerator, but if a university doesn’t have resources and programs in the “pre-accelerator” space I describe above then the university is trying to pick winners and focus on the 6 or 12 start-ups that win entry into the accelerator model program each year whilst excluding the hundreds – or thousands – of other students from much more than an invitation to Demo Day.

First time student entrepreneurs need a few basic but solid things to work towards their first failure aka real learning:

(a) A sounding board (not consultant) with a network to introduce mentors, service providers or other useful people and organisations

Bart Jellema runs the Startup Games at UNSW

Bart Jellema runs the Startup Games at UNSW

(b) To feel part of a larger community, a micro-ecosystem that is full of students at the very same stage, facing similar challenges along the entrepreneur journey but also some a little behind or further ahead in this journey for casual communication of real value to take place.

Student entrepreneur wins and challenges need to be celebrated as a group

One of the best things we ever did was create a closed social media group exclusively for student entrepreneurs currently working on live projects. We are participants more than administrators and with a few hundred members the group is now a go to place for help requests, co-founder hunting, mentor requests and other exchanges that may not be as appropriate in more public forums. It took some encouragement but now the group has a life of its own.

This list is just touching the surface, but it’s where we started. It’s an experiment for us that is working well and it feels like we are just warming up.

Watch this space!

Josh

 

Now that’s a solar plant – @Kyocera opens 70MW Solar Energy Plant in 15 months

Kyocera 70MW Solar Plant - Artist Impression in 2012 - Credit Kyocera.com

Kyocera 70MW Solar Plant – Artist Impression in 2012 – Credit Kyocera.com

Earlier this week Kyocera Corporation announced the launch of a 70 megawatt (MW) solar power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, southern Japan. The Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant went online on November 1 and is being operated by a special purpose company established by Kyocera and six other companies to sell the electricity to a local utility under Japan’s feed-in-tariff (FIT) program. An inauguration ceremony was held on November 4, with the attendance of company representatives and local governments to commemorate the launch of the country’s largest utility-scale solar power plant.

Kyocera Solar Plant under construction 2012 - Credit Kyocera.com

Kyocera Solar Plant under construction 2012 – Credit Kyocera.com

My view on Power is despite Government wrangling with Tariffs and incentives, those who own their own means of power generation will be considered rich in the future (along with means of collecting water and reducing fuel consumption by either hybrid or full electric cars, powered by your own solar plant), in Australia and other Western countries many power generating facilities have been sold or syndicated with guaranteed return on capital underwritten by Governments, so they have little incentive to reduce capital spending and subsequently this will continue to be passed onto the consumers, Japan has a particular problem due to the earthquakes and reluctance to continue to invest in new Nuclear plants.

Most impressively they only announced the venture in July 2012 and it is now in production 15 months later,.

Photo:Inauguration ceremony of the Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant
Inauguration ceremony of the Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant

Expectations and interest in solar energy have heightened to a new level in Japan with the need to resolve power supply issues resulting from the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011. To further promote the use of renewable energy, the Japanese government launched a restructured FIT program in July 2012, which stipulates that local utilities are required to purchase 100% of the power generated from solar installations of more than 10 kilowatts (kW) for a period of 20 years.

Exploring a new business model for utility-scale solar power generation, Kagoshima Mega Solar Power Corporation was established by Kyocera and six other companies in July 2012. Under a financing plan devised by Mizuho Corporate Bank, the new company was tasked to develop and operate the 70MW solar power plant on land owned by IHI Corporation — with the power generated to be purchased by Kyushu Electric Power Co., Inc. based on the FIT program. As the largest shareholder of the new company, the Kyocera Group was responsible for the supply of solar modules as well as part of the construction, and will also undertake maintenance of the system with Kyudenko Corporation.

Photo:The 70MW Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant 01Photo:The 70MW Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant 02
The 70MW Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant

Additionally, a tour facility has been built adjacent to the 70MW plant — which is open to the public — featuring a circular viewing room where visitors can observe the 290,000 solar panels from an elevated vantage point and enjoy the view of the ocean bay and grand Sakurajima volcano in the background. Display zones for visitors such as students and tourists provide information about environmental issues and the science behind photovoltaic energy generation. By dedicating this facility, all parties involved hope to foster a deeper understanding of renewable energy and further facilitate a low-carbon society.

Photo:Public tour facility at the Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant 01Photo:Public tour facility at the Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant 02
Public tour facility at the 70MW Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant

Solar Power Plant Overview

NameKagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant
Location2 Nanatsujima, Kagoshima City, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan
Area1,270,000m2 (roughly the same area as 27 baseball stadiums)
Annual outputApprox. 78,800MWh (projected)
Electricity generated will provide the equivalent power for roughly 22,000 average households*2, and will help to offset roughly 25,000 tons of CO2 per year*3.
Construction timelineStart of construction: September 2012
Completion: October 2013
Total InvestmentApprox. 27 billion yen (approx. 275.5 million U.S. dollars*4)
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