How Tech Japan is working to create a bridge between Indian talent and Japanese technology
Japan is well known the world over for its art, manga, anime, video gaming, cuisine, and contributions to science and technology. But the aging nation – it has a median age of 46 years - is in desperate need of tech talent. That gap is what Naotaka Nishiyama, 33, aims to bridge with TechJapan, a platform to foster collaboration between Indian talent and Japanese tech companies.
Naotaka, who has worked for over 10 years in companies like Deloitte and Suntory, has travelled across the world. His work and travel led him to the realisation that while Japanese companies dominated every country, they never imported global talent to boost local innovation.
“If you see the startup world, it works with global talent and the success of the western world is because of that talent exchange. I realised there was an opportunity for Japan in this play too,” says Naotaka, who founded TechJapan in February 2019.
It took him a year to figure out the business model for this talent exchange. The idea was simple: bring Japanese startups to India and recruit talent from top engineering colleges to go to Japan.
“I knew big companies would not be open to the idea, but startups would love to work with global talent,’’ Naotaka says.
The company decided it would focus on helping Japanese startups in the sustainability, diversity in workforce, and cutting-edge technology domains.
How TechJapan works
Japan is known for using technologies of the future, including robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence, to resolve major social and environmental challenges.
TechJapan is a platform for students from top colleges to discover opportunities to work with Japanese startups. The platform offers internship programmes and full-time job opportunities in Japan. “We promote information exchange and give opportunities to Indian talent to solve big social problems with Japanese technologies,’’ Naotaka says.
A student, graduate, or experienced tech professional needs to register on the site after which TechJapan recommends companies from its list of startups.
“If you are a student, you can come to Japan to work as an intern. It will surely broaden your horizons. If you are a graduate, you can be employed as a full-time worker and lead global business or invent great products together,’’ Naotaka says.
A win-win situation
The demand for engineering talent is on the rise in Japan.
“However until now, there weren't solutions to match Indian talent with Japanese tech companies. In general, traditional Japanese corporations are not ready to accept foreigners in Japan. On the other hand, Japanese tech startups and mega venture companies are rapidly growing and ready to collaborate with foreigners,’’ Naotaka says.
Most of TechJapan’s selected startups have been officially certified by the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry in Japan – as “J-Start-up Companies” - after rigorous examinations.
The company selects only top Japanese tech companies to match students from top colleges in India. After eight months of inception, TechJapan is now tying up with institutes in India.
It signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with IIT-Hyderabad in September. “We believe that this agreement will take our partnership with IIT-Hyderabad to the next level and facilitate better collaboration between academia and industry,’’ Naotaka says.
TechJapan’s business model involves charging the company for hiring engineers from India. It is early to report revenue numbers as of now because the company is yet to complete one year of operations.
Naotaka is supported in his quest by Yukio Takeyari, a former Managing Director, Sony India Software Centre Pvt Ltd. Yukio has over 30 years of experience in R&D and software development for consumer products, and PC and network services, and has served in various management and leadership positions in Sony Corporation.
From October 2008 to November 2015, he was in charge of the Sony India Software Centre in Bengaluru as Managing Director and contributed significantly to strengthening and expanding the organisation. After that, he returned to Japan and retired from Sony. Since April 2014, he has been Chair of NASSCOM Japan Council to promote the India-Japan relationship in the IT industry.
In March 2018, he published India Shift: Why are the world’s top companies establishing R&D centres in Bangalore? It was this book that led Naotaka to find Yukio to join him as senior fellow.
Scouting for top talent
The Japanese company’s aim is to find more than a 1,000 Indian engineers for Japan, but Naotaka “does not want to put a number on it”. But, he wants to reach as many institutes as possible “with the help of a senior fellow” from TechJapan.
A number of Japanese companies, including Infobridge, New Era, and The Global Asset Community, have come to India, to recruit Indian engineers to work them. Most of them have been associated with the Andhra Pradesh government.
According to sources, Japan needs at least 50,000 engineers to fill its gap for software development. There are no official numbers, but the speed at which Naotaka is going across India to meet top institutes indicates that the need may be greater. Tech talent in India could soon be bound for the Land of the Rising Sun.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)