CNET Japan Holds Its Annual Tech Innovation Awards Contest

Tech Venture 2009 CNET Japan's Logo

On Friday, CNET Networks Japan[J] held this year’s award ceremony of its annual innovation contest called TechVenture 2009[J] in Omotesando, in association with Tokyo-based seven tech-oriented venture capital firms.

Totally 15 companies and services are nominated for the prize awards.   Let’s have a look at each of them and what they provide.

Atlantis' Logo AdLantis' Logo

Atlantis[J] (Service: AdLantis[J])

Atlantis runs the cloud-sourced Internet advertising platform called Adlantis.  It is the web-based ad management tool and helps the content publishers to define when and which ads should be placed on their websites.

The service is free of charge.   The company plans to launch a marketplace of match-making between possible advertisers and the website owners selling ad spaces, and expects to earn revenue from its match-making fees.

Gumi's Logo


Gumi develops the SNS platform for cellphone, which makes easier to develop a social mobile site supporting the standards of OpenSocial and OAuth by using Restful API.   Gumi’s platform can be also installed on the clouds like Google App Engine.

The company has also its own SNS, where it provides Wiki, fortune telling and the more focusing on popular TV drama series for the younger generations.

CLON Lab's Logo

CLON Lab develops the agent engine having the features similar to the artificial intelligence.   By interactively repeating Q&As between you and your agent running on the system, you can make your agent learn more about you.    That means you can set up your clone on the company’s SNS, and let him or her grown up there.   The company’s name comes from “clone” and Communication Laboratory on New Identity.

GTE's Logo
(semi grand prix award co-winner)

Geisha Tokyo Entertainment[J]

Geisha Tokyo Entertainment (GTE for short) was founded in 2006 by Tokyo University alumnus, game developers and consultants.   It develops Augmented Reality(AR) products, one of which allows you to control the behavior of a physically-existing cartoon character sculpture by clicking and dragging the character image appeared on your PC screen.   (See Akky Akimoto’s article on Asiajin for more details)

GTE  also introduced an AR game for cellphones, in which you will receive a mission command e-mail that orders you to take a picture of a specific object.   By sending an e-mail including the picture to the game server, with the picture recognition technology, the server confirms if you have taken correctly what the server has ordered you.

Recently, GTE produced a flash-based animation series for TV broadcast “Sakuran BOY DT[J]“, which is aired on the local TV channel in Yamagata.   Yamagata is the north-eastern part of Japan, and well-known for producing cherry or Sakuranbo, which is so frequently seen on the series.

(Clicking the image above takes you to the latest one of the series.)

Scigineer's Logo
(semi grand prix award co-winner)


Scigineer provides a SaaS-based recommendation engine for large-sized e-commerce websites and SNS.    The service is deployed on to more than 30 sites in Japan and the overseas, including Online Bridal Store and @nifty Store[J].    Scigineer is a subsidiary of the Internet business incubator owned by Mitsubishi Corporation.

San San's Logo
(semi grand prix award co-winner & special judge’s award winner)

San San[J]

The company provides consultation services in CRM and SFA business segments, specifically by focusing on delivering solutions to arrange information collected by business cards being exchanged everyday.

Its service consists of a business card scanner rented for the client’s office, outsourced human data entry of business card images scanned, and the SaaS-based CRM/SFA application developed by the company.   It makes sales personnels easier to find possible customers and to get in touch with them when needed.

30min's Logo

30 min.[J] (Pronounced as San Zero Minutes)

It aggregates the messages about town attractions and restaurants posted on an enormous number of blogs, arrange them with location attributes and publish them as a town guide on the website.

The company also introduces a free location-based app for the iPhone/iPod users, specifically focusing on finding an ideal nearby restaurant for the lunch, with the combination of  GPS technology and the accumulated voices by bloggers.

Street Media's Logo

StreetMedia develops a new way of billboard advertising platform by combining digital signage devices and cellphone-based contents delivery architecture.

In association with several shopping malls in the heart of Tokyo, where the company’s head office is locating nearby, more than 20 LCDs are equipped at the storefronts across the malls, and they show commercial videos regarding the bargain sales at each shop in the malls and encourage the passers-by to purchase what they want.   Its specially designed LCD has a FeliCa device, which enables to transfer the video-related text information to the passers-by’s cellphone handsets.   The video data and text information are carried through the data broadcast channel of the digital TV broadcasting service, not by the Internet.

Vizoo's Logo
(semi grand prix award co-winner)

Fillmore Advisory (Service: Vizoo[J])

Fillmore Advisory is a think-tank and consulting firm founded in California by Stanford MBA alumnus and Japanese IT investment experts.   It provides the investment advisory service for their corporate clients in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Fillmore also develops their own visible approaches to solve financial problems for individual investors, and introduce them on Japanese famous Internet portal sites.

The company is developing the SaaS-based visualization platform allowing you to create a graph diagram on the web and to put it on your blog as a widget.   It is scheduled to be released in this coming May.

Brand Dialog's Logo

Brand Dialog[J]

The company develops some web application services including a cloud-sourced SaaS groupware called Gridy.   I covered the service in this articlehere on Asiajin.

MashMatrix's Logo afrous

Mash Matrix (Service: Afrous)

Mash Matrix  provides an easy-to-use web-based application development platform for the mash-up application developers who integrate one from multiple webAPIs.

The company’s founder Shin-ichi Tomita previously worked for Oracle Japan and   While he worked for, he developed a web-based presentation for demonstration, that was the origin of Mash Matrix.

Tomita’s work was highly evaluated by CEO of Mark Benioff, and Tomita was eagerly persuaded to remain in the company, but he quit it to found his own start-up to start a new business.

User Local's Logo
User Local[J]

User Local provides the SaaS-based access analysis solution showing you the access statistics by the heat map method, and it allows you to find which parts of your website are frequently seen at a glance.

The company’s founder previously worked with Rakuten, where he was supervising a knowledge sharing website for job-seeking university students[J], which was launched when he was a university student.

The company also introduces some blog widgets including analyzing  geographical deviation of visitors to your website and showing it on the map.

Lang-8's Logo
(grand prix award co-winner)


Lang-8 was founded by a Chinese-Japanese and his classmates, both of who graduated from Engineering Dept., Kyoto University.

It launched a language learning SNS, where language-beginners and native speakers can learn foreign languages by shuttling sentence submissions and corrections between two sides.

Hiroumi Mitani contributed an article about Lang-8 last January.

LiveSense's Logo


Livesense runs pay-per-hire fee based recruitment websites  for the client companies which seek Japanese employee candidates and Chinese employee candidates living in Japan.

Livesense users will be never charged until they employ a candidate.

LoiLo's Logo


LoiLo was founded by two game developers and brothers at the incubation facility backed up by Keio University SFC.   It developed a video editing application software for Windows, enabling mixing videos and audios mostly only by drag-and-drop actions.   The software is specifically targeted on video sharing site uploaders who love YouTube, NicoNico Doga[J] and the like.

At The Venue

Telecom Venture Presentations Held By Japan’s Governmental Incubator

Logo of NICT

On Tuesday, NICT (National Institute of Information and Communications Technology) held its annual conference providing telecom-related start-ups the opportunity to present their business plans.   An audience of more than 200 attended the event in Akihabara.

At the Venue of the Event

NICT is a governmental venture, incubation, and research organization with a special focus on future telecommunications technology development, and is an arm of Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

In total, five companies were chosen to present. Let’s take at look at their services one by one.

Peace Mind Corp. [J]
– providing mental health counseling services for corporations and individuals.

As work environments are becoming more demanding, especially in the systems integration industry, (e.g. shorter delivery dates and more mission critical requirements) more and more engineers and programmers are getting depressed and being forced to step aside from their daily jobs.   The company has developed a web-based application service, which helps a client company’s personnel department manage the status of each employee who has been depressed in the past or may be in the future.

Peace Mind has served 300 corporate clients since 1998 as the country’s first online counseling service in partnership with clinical psychotherapists nationwide.

Peace Mind's Tool

The picture above shows an example of tools measuring accumulated fatigue. The concept is based on the guidelines announced by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.   (Quoted from Peace Mind’s promotion video.)

Valtes Corp.
– providing outsourced testing facilities for content providers, to confirm whether content designed for television data broadcast channels run correctly with TV tuners and handset receivers.

The company developed its own original keystroke verification machine, which enables 24/7 automatic testing of multiple models without human operation.  TV broadcasting here in Japan is scheduled to switch over completely to digital transmission by 2011, which may accelerate demand for their service.

Knowledge Creation [J]
vds or Voice Delivery System, providing SaaS-based speech synthesis of the screen output of websites and web-based applications.

You can easily add Knowledge Creation’s speech synthesis feature to your websites and web-based applications without any difficulty.  It makes it easier to build user friendly websites, especially for blind people or elderly people with far-sightedness.

The service won the annual award for “Software Product of the Year” in 2008 [J], which was presented by the Information-Technology Promotion Agency.   The company’s English-learning website “mimi-kaki[J]” (which means ear pick) uses this technology and won “Akky Akimoto’s Special Award” in 2008 at “Mashup 4th“, a brand new web application championship organized by Sun Microsystems and Recruit.   (Asiajin‘s co-founder Akky Akimoto served as an award judge at the event.)

iidev Co., Ltd. (internet infrastracture development) [J]
– AltPaper, providing SaaS-based OMR (optical mark recognition) services as well as offshore data-entry outsourcing.

iidev’s objective is to remove simple and routine data entry work from offices nationwide.  Basically, specially-designed devices are required for deploying OMR systems. If you choose to use their service instead, all you have to do is buy a consumer scanner, set up an Internet connection, and create the desired form to be filled in using your word processing or spreadsheet software.

The service also has the ability to make a diagram representing statistics collected from the answered forms.

Brand Dialog [J]
GRIDY[J], providing SaaS-based free groupware for corporate users.

Do you remember the project called “SETI@Home“?    It is UC Berkeley’s scientific experiment that uses computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI).   This project employed grid-computing technologies in which volunteers participating in the project donated unused CPU and storage resources from their own PCs. The project easily procured the resources for calculation and search processes requiring more power than an average super computer has alone.

The reason why Brand Dialog can provide their service free of charge is based on the same idea as mentioned with SETI.  In exchange for unused computer resources provided by users, the company provides its groupware services for free.

Its business model and its customized grid-computing technology named “promotional grid” have been submitted to several patent authorities in Japan, the U.S. and Europe.

GRIDY is now in beta and scheduled to start user registration in the middle of this coming February.

Proofread by: Sean O’Hagan