The Japan – U.S. Innovation Awards program will select up to five exciting Japanese start-up companies that are incubating innovations with especially noteworthy potential, but that may not yet be well known in the Silicon Valley or U.S. business communities. These companies will be recognized as Innovation Showcase Companies.
The Innovation Showcase is a separate and different recognition program than the Emerging Leader Award competition. The Emerging Leader Award is a competition to select one winning company each from the U.S. and from Japan that have already demonstrated concrete evidence that their innovations are beginning to have a major, transformative impact on a market or industry. In contrast, the Innovation Showcase recognizes exciting start-up companies at earlier stages of development. Innovation Showcase Companies are incubating innovations that have the potential to be disruptive or transformational, but the companies need not have already demonstrated significant market success.
All of the Innovation Showcase Companies will participate in the Japan – U.S. Innovation Awards Symposium at Stanford University. Each Showcase Company will send at least one representative to the Symposium to receive the Showcase recognition as part of the Symposium agenda. That representative may further appear as a panelist or speaker on the program (subject to satisfactory English ability as well as possible topical programming constraints). Each Showcase Company will display their poster and other publicity materials at a booth or table at the Symposium venue. Leaders of the Innovation Awards Program will further engage in close communication with each Showcase Company’s representative to tailor some benefit especially for that Company, e.g. introductions or mentoring through the Program’s extensive network of Silicon Valley contacts, as mutually agreed on a case-by-case basis.
The Innovation Awards Steering Committee will select the Innovation Showcase Companies through a separate nomination and evaluation process than the Emerging Leader Award.
Nominations for the Innovation Showcase are invited from the public at large as well as from leading venture focused individuals and organizations in the U.S. and Japan. The Innovation Advisory Council of the Awards Program will continue to play an active role in identifying and recommending likely candidates. If the nomination comes from the company itself (i.e. from a founder, executive, or other employee), the company must also provide at least one independent letter of recommendation from someone who is not in the management of the company that states why the writer thinks the company’s innovation is particularly noteworthy, potentially disruptive, or transformative. Possible writers of such an endorsement letter include an investor, outside director, advisor, or someone else (not an employee) who is familiar with the company.
Nominations will be reviewed by the Steering Committee of the Innovation Awards program. The Steering Committee may direct requests for further information to the nominated company or nomination writer. The Steering Committee may also engage the Innovation Advisory Council in closed discussion of the nominees. But, this is a recognition program and not a competition, and so the Steering Committee will retain primary responsibility for selecting an exciting, diverse set of companies.