By Curriki CEO Kim Jones
I just participated in the sold-out New Economy Summit (NES) here in Tokyo. What a fantastic event! World renowned innovators who are leading the global economy gathered here and included Prime Minister Abe, CEOs from Lyft, Evernote, Houzz, Dropbox and Airbnb, as well as leaders from Kyoto University, U.S. Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, Larry Ellison of Oracle, George Roberts of KKR, former U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos, and of course the host, CEO and Founder of Rakuten, Hiroshi Mikitani. Not to mention many entrepreneurs and the classical composer Yoshiki!
Earlier this week, we had a full house for the education panel I spoke on with nearly 2,000 people in attendance! The topic was Innovation in Educational Fields: The Change in School Education Scenes – What We Need Now and was moderated by Yuki Naito (President & CEO, Drecom Co., Ltd. / Executive Member, Japan Association of New Economy).
NES 2015 Education Panel Speakers. (From top, clockwise: Kim Jones, Chairman and CEO, Curriki; Pille Parikas, Managing Director, eKool; Shihoko Urushi, Principal, Shinagawa Joshi Gakuin; Yuki Naito, President & CEO, Drecom Co., Ltd. / Executive Member, Japan Association of New Economy.)
I did a short TED-style presentation, and answered many excellent questions from both the moderator (who spoke Japanese with simultaneous translation) and the audience. The Japanese school, Shinagawa Joshi Gakuin, on our panel is quite interesting. As you may know, Japan is a very conservative country and has been traditionally slow to adopt new ways of doing things. But that is changing with the influence of companies like Rakuten and SoftBank, whose CEOs are the most successful and well-known entrepreneurs in Japan. Shinagawa Joshi Gakuin is an all-girls, private school that gives every student a tablet and the majority of work is done online. This prestigious private school is led by Principal Shihoko Urushi and is among several educational institutions at the forefront of reforming education and moving education into the digital world. Of course, any change will take time, but at least things are starting to move.
There were two big takeaways for me from NES 2015. First, we are all part of a sharing economy. And secondly, Japan is becoming the new “hot spot” for entrepreneurs and start-up companies. The environment is quickly changing to make Japan much more welcoming and productive for starting new businesses! This is a big plus for our recently-launched Curriki Japan, which offers free learning resources to students, teachers and educators. I encourage you to check it out.