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Japanese startups immersed themselves in the French market

April 13, 2023
Julia Lopez - WILCO Libérateurs d'ambitions
Julia Lopez
Content & Community Manager
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Japanese startups entered the French market with WILCO

As the domestic markets are in many ways similar, NEDO wanted to help Japanese startups expand in France.

With a population of over 66 million and a diversified economy, France offers a huge market for Japanese companies looking to expand. It’s a strategically important market to penetrate on the way to conquering Europe.


However, for foreign startups, establishing a foothold in a new market can be difficult. That’s why NEDO, the Japanese government agency that promotes technology research and development, asked WILCO for help. Wilco had already developed a similar program in Silicon Valley.

By supporting research and development in advanced technologies, NEDO aims to strengthen the competitiveness of Japanese industry and improve quality of life for the population.


NEDO asked WILCO for help given the accelerator’s position at the heart of the French ecosystem through a network of 450+ VC/BA funds, public institutions and 40+ midcaps & corporations representing potential customers and investors.


How can Japanese startups establish themselves in a new market in the heart of Europe and adapt to local requirements?


WILCO deployed a 3-month immersion program to help Japanese startups understand the French market and create international synergies. 7 tech startups were selected by NEDO to benefit from this support, all specializing in Deeptech, healthcare or energy.


The program offered Japanese startups an immersive experience in France based on a 3-phase approach:


1. Training in Tokyo on the French innovation ecosystem and culture including market opportunities, pitch coaching and business plans
2. Virtual 360° mentoring on key business metrics using WILCO methodology
3. Business meetings to connect with the French tech ecosystem and network with financial and tech partners, as well as potential customers


The startups benefited from personalized support from Louis Escudé and Emile Wallon to maximize their immersion experience in France and explore market opportunities. The program acted as a catalyst for the Japanese tech startups to develop in France.

1- Training in French ecosystem culture and market opportunities

After being selected through a public call for projects – based on the merits of their technology – the startups met Louis and Emile, who traveled to Tokyo to introduce the entrepreneurs to the French market. Key elements such as acculturation, customer discovery and sales were shared and explored with the startups to optimize their arrival in France.

2- Virtual mentoring on key sales topics using WILCO methodology

The startups, Entrepreneur Mentors and WILCO Startup Manager came together online to continue working on the topics introduced in Tokyo.

3- Business meetings with financial / customer / tech partners

The startups were invited to present their company at a pitch session attended by over forty guests (see the video at the end of the article), and meet other players in the ecosystem, Entrepreneur Mentors from the WILCO network and the Startup Manager. An excellent opportunity to gain visibility and attract the interest of investors.


During their stay, the 7 Japanese startups set up around 30 business meetings with investors and clients, and discovered the emblematic Parisian tech scene including Station F, AgoraNov and Paris-Saclay.


The startups selected for the immersion program in France had all developed innovative technologies in fields such as renewable energies, electric mobility, IoT, artificial intelligence and healthcare. These technologies have significant development potential in France and other European countries, making immersion in the French market all the more relevant.
This initiative reinforced cooperation between Japan and France in the field of innovation, contributing to the economic and social development of both countries.