Innovation Showcase

2020 Innovation Showcase

AC Biode is developing the world’s first standalone AC (Alternating Current) battery instead of DC (Direct Current) and special electric circuits for e-mobility and energy storage of renewable energy. A battery that integrates a new type of an intermediate electrode, the Biode, to enable an AC system for power storage to deliver batteries that have more capacity, last longer, and are safer. AC Biode also has commercialized catalysts and machines that carbonize organic waste mixed with plastic on site at a lower temperature than the current catalysts. AC Biode is developing catalysts to increase further efficiency.

Founded in 2018, BionicM Inc. aims to provide highly functional robotic prosthesis based on the humanoid robotics technology developed by Dr. Sun Xiaojun, Founder and CEO of BionicM, and an amputee. The technology is unique in motion assistance and natural movement which help amputees’ mobility.  BionicM is trying to solve both problems of non-powered prosthesis and powered prosthesis by utilizing their technology to improve the Quality of Life of amputees in the world.

Empath is developing Emotion AI, which can identify emotion from the voice in real-time regardless of language.  By analyzing multiple physical properties of the voice, Empath detects four emotions – joy, calm, anger, and sorrow – and their intensity. Empath SDK and API have been used by more than 2,500 customers in over 50 countries.

“Highly Efficient Biomass Recycling in 1 Week” Insect technology firm, MUSCA, upcycles biomass into natural fertilizer in a highly efficient one-week-cycle, utilizing elite housefly larvae reared as insect-protein feed. MUSCA’s thoroughbred houseflies have been selectively bred for almost 50 years over 1200 generations.  A pioneer of housefly-farming in the emerging insect technology industry, MUSCA solves two essential agriculture problems, providing efficient biomass solution and alternative-protein feed within a single supply chain. With further products and services on the horizon, MUSCA presents a sustainable platform for a circular economy and a cleaner planet with durable food security lasting through future generations.

QD Laser, Inc. was launched in 2006 as a spin-off from Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. The company successfully realized mass production of quantum dot laser first in the world and delivers new semiconductor laser-based solutions to customers in a broad range of fields. Based on the core competence of laser and optics, retinal imaging laser eyewear has been developed mainly for visually impaired people. Through this new type of device, the company aims to contribute to the better quality of life.


Prakash Murthy, Founder of Atonarp

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.

Selection Process

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.

1. Nomination 2. Discussion 3. Voting

Selection Criteria

  • Potential impact of the company’s innovation. To be highlighted as an Innovation Showcase Company, a start-up company must be incubating an innovation that is potentially disruptive or transformative.  It must have an exciting idea, not just a good idea for doing profitable business.
  • Quality of the company team: backgrounds and track records of founders, employees, advisors, and investors. Does the team include interesting or unusual people who will be great to highlight in the Innovation Awards Symposium?
  • Likelihood of success. This criterion includes the quality of the company’s business plan and factors, such as whether the team has worked together n the past.
  • Potential relevance to Silicon Valley / U.S. business. Will the company’s innovation likely lead to closer U.S. – Japan business ties?  How and why will attendees at the Japan – U.S. Innovation Awards Symposium be interested to learn about this company?
  • Degree to which company has already received recognition in the U.S. This is usually a negative factor.  The Innovation Showcase aims to recognize innovative Japanese start-up companies that are not yet very well-known in the general Silicon Valley / U.S. business communities.  Close ties with the Japanese community of Silicon Valley are not necessarily a disadvantage.