Japan’s Society 5.0: New opportunities for German deep-tech startups

By April 28, 2020 May 11th, 2021 Deep Tech, HealthTech, Japan, Mobility

In Japan’s Society 5.0, digital technologies will be harnessed to address some of the country’s persistent socio-economic issues such as a fast-shrinking and ageing population. Read on to learn how this initiative presents new areas of demand for startups’ deep-tech solutions.

Also known as the ‘super-smart society’, Japan’s Society 5.0 envisions a sustainable socio-economic system, powered by digital technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things, robotics and data analytics.

How Society 5.0 works: 

The concept of Society 5.0 was introduced in the 5th Science and Technology Basic Plan, adopted by the Japanese Cabinet in January 2016. Presented as the future society Japan should aspire towards, Society 5.0 aims to resolve various societal challenges by incorporating digital technologies into diverse industries to create new value.

These fields include healthcare, mobility, manufacturing, energy and disaster prevention as indicated in the image below.

Areas of high-demand for innovation in Society 5.0:



Due to a shortage of skilled labor and deteriorating public infrastructure, sensors and robots can be used to inspect and maintain roads, tunnels and bridges, to ensure timely repairs.


Remote medical care services, and the use AI and robots at nursing-care facilities can help to address labor-shortage problems at healthcare sites. Optimal treatment and early detection of illnesses can also be offered via real-time sharing of physiological and medical data

Smart Manufacturing

There is an increasing demand for solutions to aid flexible production planning and inventory management. Another area of demand is AI applications and robotics to make production more efficient and enable the inheritance of technical skills (master craftsmanship modeling) to achieve high-mix & low-volume production.


The fast growing e-commerce segment has seen a shortage of drivers hence distribution and logistics efficiency can also be improved by introducing innovations such as a single driver cargo truck in a convoy using unmanned-following- vehicle system and by using drones. Use of autonomous driving taxis and buses for public transportation can help make rural transportation more readily available.

Japan’s key advantages to make Society 5.0 possible:

Abundant accumulation of real data

Based on health and medical data from a universal health care system and a wealth of operating data from numerous manufacturing facilities, real and usable raw data is available for analysis in the current market economy and industry.

Technology cultivated from“monozukuri”

Japan’s advanced technology cultivated from “monozukuri” (Japan’s excellence in the manufacturing of things) and years of basic research, will work as advantages toward creating products using information technologies like Big Data and AI.

Growing entrepreneurial environment for German tech startups to explore

The Japanese government and business leaders see the concept of Society 5.0 as a way to overcome its shrinking and ageing population, as well as to stay competitive in the new digital economy.  With a high-demand for deep technologies as Japan pursues Society 5.0, German startups can also take advantage of the country’s growing entrepreneurial environment as witnessed by the following trends:

  • Active efforts by universities, venture capital, and government to spin off startups with university technology
  • Firms more interested in open innovation, participation in corporate venture funds, and partnerships with growth-stage startups with scalable products / technology
  • Rising attractiveness of entrepreneurship as large firms enter a competitive crisis

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