Startups from Kanagawa Prefecture solving Japan’s social issues

The Japanese government is currently encouraging the growth of startups with the goal of increasing investment in startups to 10 trillion yen in FY2027.

Under such initiatives, Kanagawa Prefecture has been supporting several startups by implementing the KSAP (Kanagawa Startup Acceleration Program) to gain both social contribution and business expansion.

Here we would like to introduce three startups that are working to solve social issues in Kanagawa Prefecture.

kitafuku Inc.

Yokohama is home to many craft breweries. On the other hand, disposal of malt waste produced through the brewing process is costly and environmentally hazardous, causing a major issue in the industry.

kitafuku solves this problem by combining it with business. The company produces upcycled paper (i.e., “CRAFT BEER PAPER”) from malt waste.

Coaster and menu list made of CRAFT BEER PAPER

“CRAFT BEER PAPER” is currently used as coasters, menu list, and gift boxes at craft beer stores. The advantage of using this product is that provider can express a message of environmental impact reduction and sustainability in the industry.


Gift box made of CRAFT BEER PAPER

The company is expanding overseas to promote their production scheme worldwide, and plans to conduct demonstration tests with local breweries in Finland and the Netherlands in 2024. The spread of eco-friendly products like this will help to build a more sustainable society.

Agnavi Co., Ltd.

There are more than 1,300 sake breweries in each region of Japan, each of which has a long history of producing sake and promoting the charms of their region. However, it has always been a challenge exporting to overseas markets, considering the weight and difficulty in quality control.

To solve this problem, Agnavi focuses on packaging to innovate the sake supply chain, filling 180ml cans with sake from various sake breweries and selling them as ICHI-GO-CAN in an integrated manner. The products are characterized by their “Smaller size,” “Stylish appearance,” “Convenient to carry,” and “Environmentally friendly.”


ICHI-GO-CAN from breweries in Kanagawa Prefecture

In the three years since its launch, Agnavi has collaborated with breweries across Japan and its lineup now includes more than 150 different types of sake.  Currently, in cooperation with the East Japan Railway Group, with which it has a capital and business alliance, and the product is sold along JR lines. In addition, in February, Agnavi began offering the product on board ANA Group’s “Air Japan” international flights.

Overseas, the product is currently exported to 10 countries, mainly in Asia, including Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. In March, the product will also be available in the UK and France, aiming to expand its business widely in the U.S. and Europe in the future.

Agnavi hopes that delicious sake will continue to reach the world from the Port of Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture.

An-Nahal Inc.

According to the IMD “World Competitiveness Yearbook 2023 edition,” the international competitiveness of Japanese companies is at a record low of 35th place. Focusing on the challenges faced by Japanese companies, An-Nahal is engaged in organizational and human resource development business in the area of diversity and inclusion.

The company’s founder, Yu Shinagawa, was inspired to start An-Nahal when she met an Indochinese refugee who had fled to Japan during the Vietnam War when she was in high school. Although her father has been a lawyer in his home country, in Japan he was making a living as a part-time dishwasher. She wondered about Japanese society, where people cannot fully demonstrate their abilities simply because they are foreigners.

The company offers “MILE”, a cross-cultural mentoring program with foreign students for human resources in Japanese companies. In the process of experiencing mentoring and cross-cultural team building, participants acquire practical communication skills and at the same time, foreign students will be exposed to Japanese society and also motivated to improve their Japanese skills which will contribute to increasing their employment rate in the future.


It is important that the partner is not a foreigner within the company, but a foreign student with no vested interest in the company. This allows for a frank exchange of opinions from a flat standpoint, and both sides can become good mentors and learn from the other’s point of view.


The company is currently planning to collaborate with a Nordic company with a view to further business expansion. The number of inclusive Japanese companies will increase as they turn “differences” within their organizations into strengths and link them to growth.

Kanagawa looks forward to their future business development in solving Japan’s social issues through the power of business.

© Japan Today

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