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16 May, Tue
Mid-sized Japanese firms invest in robots and automation due to labor shortage

(Reuters) — Desperate to overcome Japan’s growing shortage of labor, mid-sized companies are planning to buy robots and other equipment to automate a wide range of tasks, including manufacturing, earthmoving and hotel room service.

According to a Bank of Japan survey, companies with share capital of 100 million yen to 1 billion yen plan to boost investment in the fiscal year that started in April by 17.5 percent, the highest level on record.

It is unclear how much of that is being spent on automation but companies selling such equipment say their order books are growing and the Japanese government says it sees a larger proportion of investment being dedicated to increasing efficiency. Revenue at many of Japan’s robot makers also rose in the January-March period for the first time in several quarters.

“The share of capital expenditure devoted to becoming more efficient is increasing because of the shortage of workers,” said Seiichiro Inoue, a director in the industrial policy bureau of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, or METI.

If the investment ambitions are fulfilled it would show there is a silver lining as Japan tries to cope with a shrinking and rapidly aging population. It could help equipment-makers, lift the country’s low productivity and boost economic growth.

The government predicts investment in labor-saving equipment will rise this fiscal year, Inoue said.

The way Japan copes with an aging population will provide critical lessons for other aging societies, including China and South Korea, that will have to grapple with similar challenges in coming years.

“More than 90 percent of Japan’s companies are small- and medium-sized, but most of these companies are not using robots,” said Yasuhiko Hashimoto, who works in Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd’s robot division. “We’re coming up with a lot of applications and product packages to target these companies.”

Among those products is a two-armed, 170-centimeter (5-foot-7) tall robot. Kawasaki says it is selling well because it can be adapted to a range of industrial uses by electronics makers, food processors and drug companies.

Hitachi Construction Machinery says it is getting a lot of enquiries for its computer-programmed digging machines that use a global positioning system to hew ditches that are accurate to within centimeters and can cut digging time by about half.

“We focus on rentals and expect business to pick up in the second half of the fiscal year, which is when most companies tend to order construction equipment for projects,” said Yoshi Furuno, a company official. Hitachi Construction declined to provide figures.

Mid-sized companies are planning on increasing spending much more than large-caps, which are projecting just a 0.6 percent increase in the fiscal year, according to the Bank of Japan. Smaller companies tend to have less flexibility in overcoming labor shortages by paying workers more or by moving production overseas.

Working population plunging

Some companies could end up spending less than originally planned. But with demographics only worsening, companies will need to continue to search for solutions to the labor shortage problem. Japan’s working-age population peaked in 1995 at 87 million and has been falling ever since. The government expects it to fall to 76 million this year and to 45 million by 2065.

In the fiscal year that ended March 31, 2016, mid-sized companies with 100 to 499 workers advertised to fill 1.1 million new positions, the highest in five years and almost five times the number of open positions at companies with 500 workers or more, Labor Ministry data show.

Among the robot makers to report stronger revenue in the last quarter was Fanuc Corp. Its revenue was 7.9 percent higher than a year earlier, the first increase in seven quarters.

Meanwhile, Yaskawa Electric Corp’s revenue grew 5.1 percent in January-March from the same period a year ago, the first increase in five quarters.

Robots and labor-saving gear aren’t just found in manufacturing and construction. They are also being sought by property developers, food and beverage makers and hotel chains. The Hen na Hotel, or the “Odd Hotel,” near Tokyo Disneyland, for example, bills itself as a robot hotel because it uses 140 different robots and artificial intelligence to serve guests in its 100-room hotel and can operate with as few as two to three people, according to the manager Yukio Nagai.

Each room contains an egg-shaped robot, or personal assistant, called Tapia, that uses artificial intelligence to recognize people’s faces and respond to their voice commands. It can wake you up, manage your schedule, and control other Internet-linked devices like the TV and air conditioning. Other robots can carry bags and take out the trash.

“Originally we sold this product for use in the home, but now we are getting a lot of enquiries from companies,” said Sayaka Chiba, a director at MJI Co, which makes the Tapia. “Banks, hospitals, and hotels are interested in using Tapia for reception work and communicating with customers.” “Companies say they are interested in Tapia because of labor shortages. Nursing homes are also interested,” she said. “We’ll continue to sell this for use in the home, but all the interest from companies show that the market has shifted somewhat.”

(Reporting and writing by Stanley White; editing by Malcolm Foster and Martin Howell)

March 2018
05 March, Monday
GVA became TOP CHALLENGER of the recent UBI Global World rankings

GVA is recognized as the TOP CHALLENGER according to the UBI Global World rankings of University-linked Business Incubators and Accelerators.

February 2018
28 February, Wednesday
How Russian Consumer Companies Cooperate with Start-ups

The article on Vedomosti on  cooperation between corporations and start-ups. Among examples, there are three GVA's accelerators: Mega Accelerator, PepsiCo LAB and Faberlic FMCG Accelerator.

05 February, Monday
WSJ: “Nasdaq-listed Yandex is Russia’s Uber and Google combined”

“Stock investors can’t invest in Uber, but they can invest in Nasdaq-listed Yandex, owner of Russia’s top ride-hailing platform,” writes WSJ reporter Stephen Wilmot, referring to the Yandex.Taxi platform.

02 February, Friday
The acceleration program StrartUp Kazakhstan has been launched

The first face-to-face event in the framework of the StartUp Kazakhstan – program orientation took place in innovation cluster of Tech Garden in Almaty on February 1-2. On the first day General Director of the Autonomous cluster Fund "PIT" (Tech Garden) Sanzhar Kettebekov and CEO of Global Venture Alliance Zamir Shukhov addressed to the participants with the introductory speech. 

02 February, Friday
“Startup Innovation and investment in Emerging Europe:” A groundbreaking research released by East-West Digital News

How do the local startup scenes look like in Estonia, Poland, Russia, Ukraine — but also in less known countries, from Bosnia-Herzegovina, to Moldova, to Georgia? How much do VCs invest these countries? Are corporations involved in these emerging ecosystems? Which are the most well-funded startups, and which younger ones should be followed? Why do so many ICOs come from Eastern Europe?

01 February, Thursday
2 acquisitions and 1 ICO: the Russian eSports market is heating up

The beginning of this year saw major moves on the Russian eSports scene, a sizable European market with established players operating globally. Thus, last week Mail.Ru Group — an LSE-listed Internet company which controls the largest Russian-language social networks and a range of online gaming companies — announced the full acquisition of ESforce.

January 2018
22 January, Monday
New report by GVA’s partner Pavel Luksha “Skills of the Future: How to Thrive in the Complex New World”

GVA’s partner Pavel Luksha, founder Global Education Futures and professor at Moscow School of Management, has a new report out on what graduates should know and be able to do. “Skills of the Future: How to Thrive in the Complex New World” was developed with WorldSkills Russia during sessions of the Atlas of Emerging Jobs project. The report is a thoughtful review of global trends, changes in work and concludes with implications for education. Not a continuation of the present, the authors “believe that mankind should take a serious approach towards the formation of a desired image of the future.”


22 January, Monday
The Fund for the Digitalization of Industry will be launched in Kazakhstan

On January 22 during the official visit of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbaev to the USA the autonomous cluster fund Tech Garden signed a number of important agreements with American companies on the digitization of the economy of Kazakhstan.

November 2017
09 November, Thursday
THE PROCESS OF UPDATING THE WORLD SYSTEM OF EDUCATION WAS DISCUSSED IN RUSSIA

At the international GELP Moscow 2017 Summit, which was held in Moscow on 1st to 3rd of November, leaders of Russian and foreign education from 12 states outlined practical steps for systematical change of the global educational environment, taking into account the existing global challenges of civilization.

October 2017
30 October, Monday
Global Venture Alliance & Forbes Russia in a closed round table discussion

Global Venture Alliance took part in a closed round table session organized by Forbes Russia.

27 October, Friday
In Moscow for the first time the international educational Summit Global Education Leaders` Partnership will take place

The authoritative international alliance Global Education Leaders` Partnership (GELP), which influences the development of school education abroad, for the first time, chose Russia as a meeting point for leaders and experts of the world educational community. The official operator of GELP is the Global Venture Alliance.

27 October, Friday
FORBES MAGAZINE CELEBRATED ITS 100TH ANNIVERSARY WITH A GRAND GALA AT PASHKOV HOUSE

Global Venture Alliance is the general sponsor of the event on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the magazine Forbes.

25 October, Wednesday
Russia creates a research center for IT solutions in the transport industry

The Global Venture Alliance team on October 17 at the international forum "Open Innovations 2017" in Skolkovo organized a closed signing between RZhD, IBM, NES and NCC in the field of transport logistics. 

September 2017
19 September, Tuesday
MEGA Accelerator Opening

IKEA Centers Russia and GVA have identified 9 start-ups that will go into the MEGA Accelerator business incubator. Theese are Altair VR virtual planetarium, mobile application Save4time, virtual bot MRBot, VR-platform Hexa, interactive game Ligrook, time scheduler Verme, HR-robot Robot Vera, corporate messenger Beesender and IT-service for lawyers Bots & Partners. This was reported to Firrma in IKEA Centres Russia.

July 2017
28 July, Friday
Apple imagines AR glasses that fulfill the dream of Google Glass

Tim Cook has not-so-subtly hinted that Apple is working on some sort of augmented reality product. And while ARKit may be the start, a patent application published today hints at what Apple could be picturing down the road.


26 July, Wednesday
Apple and Cochlear team up to roll out the first implant made for the iPhone

Apple has teamed up with Australian-based Cochlear to bring iPhone users the first made for iPhone Cochlear implant.

Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June, Cochlear’s Nucleus 7 Sound Processor can now stream sound directly from a compatible iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to the sound processor.

25 July, Tuesday
Google’s DeepMind made an AI that can imagine the future

Google’s London-based AI outfit DeepMind has created two different types of AI that can use their ‘imagination’ to plan ahead and perform tasks with a higher success rate than AIs without imagination. Sorry if I made you click because you wanted AIs predicted flying cars. I promise this is cool too.

24 July, Monday
Scientists are now using Wi-Fi to read human emotions

Scientists at MIT are using Wi-Fi and AI to determine your emotional state. They’ve created an algorithm that can detect and measure individual heartbeats by bouncing RF signals off of people.

21 July, Friday
This little USB stick is designed to make AI plug-and-play

The Neural Compute Stick from Movidius makes it easy to add a machine vision processor to any device.

18 July, Tuesday
GOOGLE GLASS 2.0 IS A STARTLING SECOND ACT

Yep. Glass is back.

upward