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Business Plan Contest “Photonics Challenge 2024” was Successfully Held in Hamamatsu City, the Center of the Optical Industry

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Discovering Ambitions Individuals and Creative Startups Focused on Optical Technology

Three startups from Shizuoka Prefecture – Hamamatsu Pulse Co. Ltd., Pi PHOTOTONICS, Inc. and eZov International are awarded for their business plans

HAMAMATSU, Japan, March 6, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Photonics Challenge 2024 is a business contest that supports the expansion of optical technology applications by venture companies and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) nationwide that seek to create new value in society.

Winners of Photonics Challenge 2024

Photonics Challenge is an annual competition sponsored by the Graduate University School for the Creation of New Photonics Industries. This year marked its fifth year and is the only business plan contest in Japan that specializes in optical technology. Nine finalists, selected from among applicants from all over Japan, presented their business plans applying a wide variety of light at the final judging held on February 29 at Entetsu Hall in Hamamatsu City, after four months of mentoring. Four of the nine companies are based in Shizuoka Prefecture and three of them, Hamamatsu Pulse Co. Ltd., Pi PHOTOTONICS, Inc. and eZov International successfully presented and were awarded for their respective business plans.

Four awards were presented by the Chairman of the Judging Committee, Hiroyasu Ito, President of Graduate School for the Creation of New Photonics Industries.

  1. Best Business Award – prize of one million yen – Awarded to HOLODESIGN Inc.
  2. Grand Prize for the Best Challenge – prize of one million – Awarded to Hamamatsu Pulse Co. Ltd.
  3. Shizuoka SME Excellence Award – prize of 300,000 yen – This award is for applications whose base of operations is in Shizuoka Prefecture and was received by Pi PHOTOTONICS, Inc.
  4. Observer Award – prize of 300,000 yen – Awarded to eZov International.   

Profile of Finalists

Best Business Award – prize of one million yen awarded to HOLODESIGN Inc.

Making innovation in laser manufacturing, HOLODESIGN Inc. is a startup originating from Utsunomiya University in Tochigi prefecture. It researches, develops, designs, manufactures, sells, and maintains holographic optical engines for laser processing. The holographic optical engine developed by HOLODESIGN improves the accuracy and speed of laser processing at the same time, thus contributing to higher performance and lower cost of products.

Satoshi Hasegawa, CEO of HOLODESIGN Inc. said, “We are very happy to receive this prestigious award. Thank you very much for the high evaluation by the judges. We also thank our mentors, professors from the Graduate School for the Creation of New Photonics Industries, who have been very helpful in brushing up our business plan and checking our presentation to make it even better. We are grateful for the support of everyone including our partners. With this award, our company will continue to expand our business and do even better in the future.”


Grand Prize for the Best Challenge – prize of one million yen to Hamamatsu Pulse Co. Ltd

Looking towards the future of agriculture, Hamamatsu Pulse Co. Ltd developed Air Revive. It is a commercial air purifier that suppresses storage diseases such as mold and reduces rot and peel damage in agriculture products, maintaining freshness in transport as it can be used in containers, as well as warehouses during storage. Air Revive protects the freshness of agricultural products and improves farmer’s productivity and aims towards less waste and more sustainable agriculture. 

Hamamatsu Pulse also took part in the “Shizuoka Prefecture SDGs Business Awards” in 2023 which honors environmental businesses and won the highest award, the Governor’s Award for its presentation, ‘Reforming Agriculture with Photocatalysis’.

Aki Furuhashi, Planning & Development Dept. of Hamamatsu Pulse said, “We launched our product last year after discovering the wonder of photocatalytic technology. This is the first product of its kind, and one of the challenges we face is what to do with it, but we hope to receive your support and it will be very much appreciated.”


Shizuoka SME Excellence Award – prize of 300,000 yen awarded to Pi PHOTONICS, Inc.  

Pi PHOTONICS started in 2006 by Takahiro Ikeda, a graduate of the Graduate University for the Creation of New Photonics Industries. The company’s flagship product, “HOLOLIGHT” is a special LED light that can form various highly visible light patterns from a distance. Pi PHOTONICS’ products are widely used for safety, for example, in a factory to indicate hazardous areas around suspended loads of overhead cranes and the direction of travel of industrial vehicles such as forklifts, as well as areas that are off-limits, assisting in areas where hearing-impaired people work and helping prevent industrial accidents in manufacturing plants.

Tomotaka Nakaya, Chief, International sales of Pi PHOTONICS, Inc. said, “We are honored to receive this wonderful award. One of the key points is that it is important for us to challenge ourselves to do as many things as possible as quickly as possible. I believe it is very important to place a renewed and larger presence overseas in order to improve Japan in the future, as more and more various technologies will be launched from Hamamatsu, Shizuoka to overseas. Pi PHOTONICS, which is located in Hamamatsu City, will continue to lead the way and become a global company.”


Observer Award – prize of 300,000 yen awarded to eZov International

eZov International’s business involves efficiently removing viruses, bacteria, and chemicals in air and water, as well as odor thanks to the production of eZov, a highly efficient photocatalytic filter with nanostructured titanium dioxide on metal mesh.

Yukiko Suzuki, Representative Director of eZov International said, “I am very grateful to receive such a wonderful prize. Our company has just started our business, and we would like to continue to promote our business in many ways, so we appreciate your support. Thank you very much.”


Other event highlights

In his keynote speech, Professor Fumiaki Ikeno, Senior Research Fellow at Stanford University, stated that although light is not a final product, it is a “Key Enabling Technology” that can create new developments in a wide range of industrial fields. He emphasized that the key to innovation creation is “Monozukuri” (the pride, skill and pursuit of excellence through innovation and improvement) along with “Kotozukuri” (creating business) and that “Hitozukuri” (human resource development) is indispensable to realize this.

One example is laser fusion, which is attracting attention as a new energy possibility. EX-Fusion, Japan’s only startup in this field, has a research base in Hamamatsu and is working on creating an energy revolution and industry through joint research with the Graduate University School for the Creation of New Photonics Industries.

Other startups are also working on quantum computers and photocatalysts, and aiming to solve a wide variety of social issues. J-Startup Central companies Happy Quality Inc. and ANSeeN Inc. have also been finalists in previous Photonics Challenge competitions.

As part of the Central Japan Startup Ecosystem, Hamamatsu City will continue to attract people with an entrepreneurial spirit from all over the world to create new industries through startups.

Other participating startups
Tokyo University of Science, Department of Physics, Faculty of Science
Business Plan focused on fiber optic single photon light sources

Quantum Data Inc.
Business Plan focused on the development and dissemination of quantum cryptography optical communication technology based on quantum mechanical properties that cannot be deciphered even if a quantum computer emerges.

Business Plan focused on the realization of quantitative evaluation and analysis service of biomarkers in hair at higher speed and lower cost than ever before.

Business Plan focused on drug discovery support platform by highly efficient raman scattering analysis.

Trioptics Japan Co., Ltd.
Business Plan focused on the development and commercialization of a processing-free refractive index measuring instrument that easily elucidates lens characteristics.

About the Central Japan Startup Ecosystem 

In July 2020, Aichi prefecture, Nagoya City and Hamamatsu City in Shizuoka-prefecture became one of the four regional Startup Ecosystem Global Base Cities groups designated nationwide by the Japanese Cabinet Office. 

There are 371 startups in Central Japan, of which 150 are university-launched. An estimated 18,615 billion yen (as of July 2022) of funds have been raised, in addition to accelerator programs, financial support systems, and innovative university seeds. Collaborative partnerships with Station F, INSEAD, BLOCK71, Paris &Co, Bpifrance, Venture Café, Plug and Play, Israel Innovation Authority, Tsinghua University, China Medical University, National University of Singapore, the University of Texas at Austin, Stanford University, North Carolina State University, University of Nebraska and the Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad attract a diverse range of entrepreneurs to the region. 

For more information, please visit https://central-startup.jp/en/

Photo – https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/2355935/Photo_Caption_Winners_of_Photonics_Challenge_2024.jpg

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