News Release

OIST seeks entrepreneurs from Okinawa, Japan, and the World

Grant and Award Announcement

Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University

Innovation Square (I2) Accelerator, the global startup accelerator program of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST), is now accepting applications from driven, entrepreneurial teams for its 2022 program. Launched in 2019 in collaboration with the Okinawa Prefectural Government, the I2 Accelerator is a 12-month startup incubation program taking place on-site in Okinawa, Japan that combines hands-on mentorship with the vast resources of OIST to help entrepreneurs establish their deeptech startups and prepare them for venture capital investment. The application period runs from December 6, 2021 to February 4, 2022.

In addition to business courses, mentorship, pitching opportunities, and access to advanced scientific equipment and facilities at OIST, entrepreneurs will receive a non-dilutive grant of up to 10 million yen to develop their MVP and execute their go-to-market strategy. As the program is be based in Okinawa, entrepreneurs will also receive assistance in obtaining a visa to work in Japan.

 “The flexibility to provide each entrepreneurial team with the support they need, in the form they need it, and the ability to target global markets from the start are the main characteristics of our program," said Gil Granot-Mayer, Vice President of the OIST Technology Development and Innovation Center, which manages the program.

Alumni of the OIST I2 Accelerator Program include EF Polymer, founded by entrepreneurs from India working to transform agricultural waste into organic superabsorbent polymers to help farmers in regions around the world tackle water scarcity while upcycling waste. The support and connections made in the OIST I2 Accelerator Program helped EF Polymer establish their startup company in Japan and close their first 40 million yen seed round investment.

 “It is rare to find an accelerator in the world that provides stable support for up to 12 months," said Narayan Garjar, Founder and CEO of EF Polymer. “Throughout the Innovation Square Accelerator Program, OIST's Technology Development and Innovation Center assisted us every step of the way, from matching us with investors to helping us close the deal. They have been a key partner to the establishment and expansion of our business."

The current batch of entrepreneurial teams in the Innovation Square Accelerator include:

  • Sage Sentinel (Canada): Predicting falls in the elderly through AI and ML algorithms inspired by the brain’s visual cortex
  • KanjuBot (Russia): Applying deep reinforcement learning to make machines better at having human-like conversations
  • Menopause and Beyond (Japan): Femtech startup developing comprehensive support system for women in their transition through menopause
  • GenomeMiner ai (Japan): Using AI to explore microbial genomes for bioactive compounds

Details of the FY2022 Application for OIST Startup Accelerator Program

Application period: Dec. 6, 2021 to Feb. 4, 2022
Eligible candidates: Entrepreneurs from Japan and overseas with an innovative technology Targeting a wide range of deeptech industries including AI/ML, biotech/medtech, agritech, smart materials, sustainable energy, robotics, and more. Please see the Innovation Square frequently asked questions for more information.
How to apply: Submit a Letter of Intent through the application platform on the I-square website.
Selection Criteria: Applicants will be selected based on their passion and commitment to their technology and project, as well as their team composition, technical merit, marketability, achievable goals within the program period, potential for social impact, and compatibility with the OIST environment and resources.

About OIST

The Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) is an interdisciplinary graduate school offering a 5-year PhD program in Science. OIST was founded in 2011 by the Japanese government to contribute to science and technology worldwide, attract leading researchers from Japan and abroad to conduct high-quality research, advance the development of a world-class research hub, and nucleate a knowledge cluster that will catalyze technology transfer and industrial innovation in Okinawa, Japan.


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