About the Symposium

Our Vision and Mission


The Innovation Initiative, begun in 2011, highlights an increasingly important area of cooperation between Japan and the U.S. – in particular with Northern California. Through this effort JSNC seeks to encourage productive Japan – U.S. innovation and entrepreneurship, to provide role models for future innovators and to spotlight Japanese creativity and vitality often overlooked by U.S. media. This Initiative complements U.S. – Japan government–to–government dialogue and other efforts that promote innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation.

In cooperation with the Stanford University US–Asia Technology Management Center, JSNC organizes timely and interesting programs that focus on Japan – U.S. innovation and entrepreneurship. The signature activity is an intensive year-long process to identify companies with a Japan – U.S. connection that have achieved highly noteworthy innovations in business or technology. The Awards are presented each year at the public “Japan – U.S. Innovation Awards Symposium” held at Stanford University and publicized widely through the media. 

Further, the Innovation Initiative offers interim programs that focus on Japan – U.S innovation and entrepreneurship. These programs, named “Innovation Salons”, are held both in San Francisco and in Silicon Valley.


The Japan Society of Northern California (JSNC) believes strongly that innovation and entrepreneurship are critical to the long term viability of both Japan and the U.S. The Society also believes the San Francisco/Silicon Valley ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship affords innumerable opportunities for constructive interaction with Japan. 

The Society’s vision is to energize the creativity, imagination and actions of individuals, businesses and academics – in both the U.S. and Japan – through creating distinctive dialogues and programs that broadly publicize and encourage “best in class” Japan – U.S. innovation and entrepreneurship.


The Innovation Initiative is governed by an Innovation Advisory Council (IAC) and its Steering Committee. Summary information about the IAC and its Steering Committee follows.

The Steering Committee has overall responsibility for the Innovation Initiative, i.e., the Awards selection process, the Japan – U.S. Innovation Symposium and interim programming. It manages the Innovation Initiative, subject to the overall authority of the Japan Society of Northern California in collaboration with the Stanford University US–Asia Technology Management Center.

The Steering Committee is responsible for determining the Awards to be presented, for assuring there is a robust process to select Award winners and, ultimately, for the credibility of Award recipients. The Steering Committee is comprised of a Chair plus up to seven additional members, all members of the IAC.

The Innovation Advisory Council (IAC) has overall responsibility for nominating and selecting truly deserving Award recipients and for delivering significant and interesting Japan – U.S. innovation and entrepreneurship programs. Members have extensive Japan – U.S. experience and are actively involved as practitioners or in other expert roles in venture capital, innovation, and/or entrepreneurship that touches both countries. Members reside both in the U.S. (primarily the San Francisco Bay Area) and Japan and have experience living and working in both regions.

Participation in this broad initiative provides IAC members with an opportunity to directly encourage and advance Japan –U.S. innovation. Credibility of the Awards reflects the quality and commitment of the IAC.

Innovation Advisory Council Member Responsibilities:

  • Participate actively in the Award nomination and selection process.
  • Serve as a speaker and/or moderator of the Japan – U.S. Innovation Awards Symposium panels and interim events as requested.
  • Attend Innovation Advisory Council meetings in person or by teleconference and contribute to the award selection efforts, including the on-line forums.
  • There are approximately four IAC meetings per year as well as an on-line forum to narrow the selection of viable Award finalists.
  • Attend the Japan – U.S. Innovation Awards Symposium and Innovation Salons.
  • Contribute to interim programming to the extent possible.
  • Additional Committees and/or Task Forces may be established by the Steering Committee to achieve the overall vision and mission of the Innovation Initiative.

Prior Events

2011 / 2012 /2013 (Innovation Salon) / 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2017 / 2018

Follow Us