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[ Application Guidelines ]


400-word essays to change the world starting from Tokyo

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TOKYO STARTUP GATEWAY is a start-up contest to produce young entrepreneurs who will change the world from Tokyo, covering everything from technology to manufacturing, social innovation, and real business with a global focus, across many fields.

You don’t need a good, viable business plan at the beginning. You need a vision of the kind of world that you want to create, and see become reality. It is precisely these dreams and passions, which you hold in your heart, that are the start of everything. Together with your friends and supporters gathered here, boldly refine your power to truly change the world.

This year’s slogan is “DREAM or NEVER.”

It is surely the passion of each and every individual that changes the world. We look forward to your ideas, boldly painting a picture of the next decade and even the next century, going beyond past ideas and imagination.


01. Easy entry with a 400-word essay

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Start with your concept in 400 Japanese words. It is not necessary to have a clearly defined plan at the beginning. First, boldly draw out your passion.

02. Providing start-up funds and a support menu

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The grand prize winner is awarded ¥1,000,000, runner-up ¥500,000, and finalists are provided with access to a list of available support partners. Further, upon incorporation in Tokyo, funds of ¥1,000,000 are provided for business activities.

03. Refine ideas with mentors

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A group of 50 people comprised of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and accelerators provide a powerful backup as mentors.

04. Community among participants

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The participants’ community formed by friendly rivalry and mutual support among those starting up businesses at the same time and sharing difficulties is an invaluable asset.

05. A practical business school

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Entrepreneurs in the spotlight from each field become lecturers, passing on invaluable wisdom and know-how at the idea generation and seed stages.

06. Providing opportunities to obtain resources

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A meeting place for finding critical resources to support the start-up period is provided through founding members, initial customers, the press, and angel investors, etc.

Contest Section: August 1, 2019 – December 1, 2019

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Through the practical lectures and mentoring by experienced entrepreneurs, concrete actions such as user interviews and prototype development, and friendly rivalry among fellow participants, your vision as an entrepreneur is deepened, and your idea is refined into a business concept plan to change the world.

The schedule may change slightly.

01. Contest Section First Stage: early August – early September

August 24 (Sat) First Stage gathering
Early September Submission of Business concept plans
Early September Announcement of those proceeding to the Second Stage
Starting in early August, a practical business school will be run, giving priority guidance to contest entrants and accepted candidates. Contest entrants and accepted candidates will be given priority access to exclusive content and new courses.

02. Contest Section Second Stage: mid-September – late October

September 28 (Sat),
29 (Sun)
Concentrated Mentoring Day
Early October Submission of Business concept plans
October 26 (Sat) Screening of business concept plan presentations
Early November Announcement of finalists proceeding to the Final Stage / THE FINAL

03. Contest Section Final Stage: early November – early December
(Selection of 10 individuals as finalists planned)

November 9 (Sat) Refining pitch and business concept plans
November 23 (Sat) Refining pitch and business concept plans
November 30 (Sat) Day before THE FINAL: set-up and refining event

04. Contest Section THE FINAL

December 1 (Sun) Prize winners announced

Application Guidelines


Individuals 15-39 in the idea and planning phase aiming to make a start-up *Individuals who will be at least 15 and under 40 years old as of April 1, 2019
Those planning to make a start-up in Tokyo by the end of March 2020
Those willing to engage in friendly rivalry and benefit from mutual support among candidates accepted to the program
If you have yet to register as a corporation, you can still apply if you are in the phase of starting to provide services such as project-based or test marketing (including individual business owners).
Those who reside outside the city can apply if they will potentially make a start-up in Tokyo.
Team application is also possible, but the primary applicant will be the individual proposing the business concept plan.
Since the practical business school and mentoring will mainly be held on weekends and evenings of weekdays, those preparing to run a start-up while continuing to work as a company employee can also apply.

Through a platform of integration, collaboration and friendly rivalry of entrepreneurs across various fields, we will aim to produce young entrepreneurs who can disseminate their visions from Tokyo to change the world over the next decade and even the next century.

Over the past 5 years, there have been applications for a very wide variety of ideas, including IoT, IT, AI and technology R&D, services closely associated with the basic necessities of food, clothing and housing, manufacturing, development of hardware, science and space development, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, development of water and energy, biotechnology, finance, medical care, nursing care and healthcare, education and child-raising support, the arts, sports and culture, and development of next-generation mobility and motors, etc. Not limited to these categories, we are broadly seeking for business concepts that have the latent potential to change the world in a wide variety of fields and new areas.
Please understand in advance that the screening process and the various events in this program are all conducted in Japanese. (Please contact the secretariat if you wish for the presence of interpreters or others who can support communication.)

Screening Criteria

Passion and vision as an entrepreneur
Innovation to develop new markets
Planning toward realization of the vision
Quality to empathize
The weights of the screening criteria differ at the First Stage, Second Stage and Final Stage.

Screening Schedule for the First Stage

July 7 (Sun) 11:59pm Entry deadline
Early July Announcement of candidates that passed entry screening
July 16 (Tue) 2:00pm Submission deadline for First Stage preliminary screening documents
Late July Announcement of those proceeding to the First Stage
Information will subsequently be sent to those who passed entry screening regarding the required submission documents for First Stage preliminary screening. Since it may require some time to prepare the First Stage preliminary screening documents, making entry as early as possible is recommended.
Results of First Stage preliminary screening will be conveyed by individual contact. Please understand that we cannot respond to any inquiries regarding the reason for failure.
In early August, a practical business school will be run, giving priority guidance to contest entrants and accepted candidates. Contest entrants and accepted candidates will be given priority access to exclusive content and new courses.


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The 10 individuals selected as finalists will present their business concept plans before an audience of 300 people. This provides a meeting place to find critical resources to help commercialize businesses, such as management teams for the near future, first customers for a service, candidates for business tie-up partners, angel investors, and venture capitalists, etc. Members of the press focusing on young new entrepreneurs aiming to change the world from Tokyo will also attend. This will be the day to debut your business concept to Japan and the world.

Date December 1 (Sun)
Venue Within Tokyo (to be announced in early November)
  • Grand Prize ¥1,000,000 (1 person/group)
  • Runner-up Prize ¥500,000 (2 persons/groups)
  • Audience Prize (1 person/group)

Advance registration here

Advance registration for entry and its Instruction are all in Japanese.
Please try and enjoy!