A Space For Innovation: Fukuoka Growth Next

Fukuoka Growth Next Facility

A Space For Innovation

5 min read

Fukuoka is taking its startup scene to the next level by unveiling a new startup hub in a converted former elementary school. It’ll change the way you look at founding a business in Japan.

Office buildings are rarely known for being inspiring. Typically, desks are crammed into beige rooms filled with the sound of clicking keyboards and the bright glare of florescent lights. That type of environment rarely sparks creativity and innovation. Which is precisely why Fukuoka City has just unveiled their game-changing startup hub, growth next. A converted elementary school in the city’s hip Daimyo neighborhood, this startup hub sets the stage for Fukuoka’s startups to take their companies to the next level.

Creativity is key for startup founders as they are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to make their businesses even better. Growth next fosters this sense of creativity with an on-site fabrication studio called Gooday Fab. It’s an easy way for companies to try out the latest technology and prototype their ideas in a supportive environment with friendly staff. The lab is on 1F of growth next and it’s open to the public, making it incredibly easy to swing by for a bit of advice and inspiration.

Growth next is also constructed to encourage Fukuoka’s startup community to interact and exchange ideas. The on-site Honey coffee shop is no stranger to innovation themselves. They were the first coffee shop in Japan to have the Clover Coffee machine which Fukuoka Now raves brews, “sublime coffee every time.” Or, the building’s innovators can stop by the awabar to discuss their latest projects over a drink after work. Both Honey and awabar are also open to the public allowing everyone to get involved in the new projects and interesting products the startups in the city are producing.

Startup communities around the world are linked to Fukuoka, giving growth next the opportunity to host international innovators as well. This led the growth next developers to create collaboration and events spaces within the facility. Now everything from pitch contests to product demonstrations can be held within growth next’s walls, making them even simpler for the startup community to schedule and attend.

It is also important to note that Fukuoka’s valuable startup resource center Startup Cafe is also now located on 1F of growth next. Once housed within a local Tenjin bookstore, Startup Cafe’s new home will be at the heart of the new startup hub giving startups the easiest way to

consult with the Cafe’s knowledgeable staff. Anyone can stop by and ask the Cafe’s bilingual staff for helpful advice or learn more about how to get more involved in the city’s startup community.

Fukuoka City developed growth next to encourage a rich idea exchange and help give the public access to all of the amazing things the city’s entrepreneurs are doing. Visiting growth next will give the public and future innovators a great window into Fukuoka’s exciting startup scene. It promises to be a great place for the city’s current and future innovators a way to interact, collaborate, and grow the startup community for years to come.

Laying The Foundation

The advent of Fukuoka’s growth next facility promises to make Fukuoka’s startup community even stronger. With dozens of startups housed together in a newly renovated former school, the environment is poised to foster some awesome innovations and revolutionary businesses. 

Success isn’t created in isolation, and this startup hub is built with that in mind. The entire first floor was designed to unite Fukuoka’s founders and trailblazers with budding innovators and the public to exchange ideas. Spaces like a design lab and the Honey coffee shop encourage everyone to take part in Fukuoka’s startup scene. This welcoming atmosphere creates new opportunities for students to explore fields they may never have had exposure to, while also giving corporations and the general public a place to flex their creative muscles.

Providing some of the city’s most dynamic startups with a place to work and interact is another huge benefit of the facility. Fukuoka growth next gives startups a haven where they can get input and help each other learn. Founding a business in Fukuoka means being a part of a deeply-rooted community of entrepreneurs that are constantly sharing tips and exchanging knowledge they’ve gained. Now, that process may just involve walking down the hall or stopping by awabar downstairs. It also promises to be a great way to help introduce new startups to the community and give them access to inside knowledge from more experienced founders and the helpful Startup Cafe staff. Creative idea exchanges and organic networking can help to ensure that experienced startups and new companies alike all have more opportunities than ever before.

Getting in Shape

Some of the world’s biggest startup cities have learned how beneficial having a dedicated startup hub can be for their founders. As Fukuoka is rapidly becoming famous for its startup community and supportive environment, the hub cements the city’s commitment to ensuring startups thrive. As Mayor Takashima told CNN Money, “We want to carve out a new era,” and the city certainly seems prepared to make that vision a reality.

500 Startups, the world’s most active seed investment fund, has also tapped into Fukuoka’s electric startup scene. They chose growth next as the site for their one-day bootcamp, and the event was just another great example of how Fukuoka’s startup community is attracting exciting opportunities to shape the future of Japan’s startups. Held on April 14th, the bootcamp gave Fukuoka’s startups insight into the global VC’s operations and wisdom they have gained from years in the startup world. The bootcamp allowed 20 of Fukuoka’s seed stage and early stage startups to participate in an action-packed day full of lectures and mentoring sessions. At this critical time in the company’s growth, the mentorship from 500 Startups gave Fukuoka’s startups knowledge that it takes other companies years of experience to learn. It was also an incredible way to kick-off the exciting events that will be hosted at growth next’s 1F facilities and a preview of things to come for Fukuoka’s startup scene. You can find out more about 500 Startups Japan here.

Looking toward the Future

A well-kept secret no more, Fukuoka City has the world’s attention. The public praise for being an amazingly livable city combined with its thriving startup scene makes Fukuoka a dynamic place that is full of surprises.

Fostering an environment where startups and established businesses can thrive side-by-side is a tough balance to strike. Add in making that environment not just livable but actually enjoyable and the task may seem impossible. Yet Fukuoka is gaining global attention for doing just that and more. This reputation is thanks in large part to dedicated efforts by the local government to create a unique startup community that helps entrepreneurs to succeed.

Fukuoka is well known within Japan for being a great place to live, and the vast majority of residents (96%!) say they love it there. That statistic isn’t shocking when you take into account that the city has access to everything from beautiful beaches and mountains to incredible shopping and restaurants. It’s so highly thought of that Ingrid Williams from the New York Times even wrote a piece about just how many amazing benefits the city has to offer. Williams captured one aspect of Fukuoka that everyone who lives there just accepts as fact, “...even finer than these sights are Fukuoka’s intangibles: the laid-back atmosphere, the friendly people, the relaxed pace of a city large enough, with about 1.4 million people, to have its own attractions but not so large as to be overwhelming.” 

Living somewhere positive can absolutely impact how a business functions. With happier employees can come better work products and more creative input. But it’s not enough just to love where you live, it is also important to start a new company in an environment that will help it to grow. Fukuoka’s mayor fully understands the process of creating a startup and has pushed to develop a supportive infrastructure that helps new companies in the city. There are some perks to starting a company within the city that are unique to Fukuoka like special tax rates and even a dedicated startup visa. Those benefits work to attract more entrepreneurs to the city, but it is absolutely the wonderful city atmosphere and collaborative startup community that makes them proud to call Fukuoka home.