Industry Report

AI in Japan: Opportunities for Swiss Startups and SMEs

In response to an ageing population and shrinking workforce Japan is turning to AI as a solution. A trend towards open innovation is seeing more collaborations with foreign startups and SMEs, creating opportunities for Swiss companies. The Swiss Business Hub Japan created an AI Industry Report for Swiss companies to inform opportunities in Japan.

Example of artificial intelligence: Chatbot

With a goal of addressing the issues of an aging population, shrinking workforce and increased global competition, the Japanese government is putting AI, Big Data and IoT at the center of the country’s Revitalization Strategy. Forecasts estimate the Japanese AI market to reach USD 209 billion by 2020.

Increasing corporate R&D spend, growing number of joint projects between large corporations and startups, and the realization of major Japanese companies that open innovation is essential to maintain their international competitiveness, which has created opportunities for overseas startups and SMEs in Japan.

Opportunities for Swiss Companies

These sectors represent opportunities for Swiss companies with applicable AI technologies.

  • Manufacturing: seeks technologies that transform robots into intelligent machines and deliver efficiency and accuracy of manufacturing processes.
  • Autonomous vehicles: the Japanese government plans to commercialize self-driving vehicles by 2020
  • Digital healthcare: surgery assistance, nursing, diagnostic imaging support and drug development are the main areas in need of AI to address medical personnel shortages and increasing medical costs of the graying Japanese society.
  • Elderly care: the graying of society combined with a shortage of nursing staff militates towards the deployment of AI and AI driven robots.
  • Financial services: recent regulatory changes are stimulating the already high demand of Japanese banks for new technologies.
  • Agriculture: the main application areas are automatic picking of harvest, crop classification and monitoring.
  • Energy: power suppliers are looking for ways to differentiate their offerings and attract/retain customers. Wide deployment of smart meters and home energy management systems (HEMS) generated large amounts of data that can be used as learning material for AI.
  • Security: automated surveillance to prevent crimes and acts of terrorism,
  • Disaster management: technologies for disaster prediction, and improvement of evacuation and response measures.
  • AI assistants: administrative work assistance, travel agent, customer support


  • Industrial AI/IOT Expo (6-8 February 2019, Tokyo)
  • AI Expo Tokyo 2019 (3-5 April 2019, Tokyo)
  • 2nd World Conference on Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (10-12 June 2019, Tokyo)
  • Artificial Intelligence/Business AI (9-11 October 2019, Tokyo)

How can you benefit from these opportunities?

If you would like to learn more and benefit from the opportunities related to artificial intelligence, please get in touch with our S-GE Consultant for Japan, Jacqueline Tschumi.


AI in Japan: Opportunities for Swiss companies (01/2019)


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