The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is extending its renowned NINJA Accelerator program to South Africa. This move aims to foster strategic collaboration and innovation between South African startups and Japanese companies.

The NINJA Accelerator: Open Innovation Edition

The newly introduced JICA NINJA Accelerator in South Africa, branded as the Open Innovation Edition, targets high-potential startups. These startups are invited to explore commercial partnership opportunities with NEC XON, a major pan-African entity owned by NEC Corporation.

Objectives and Goals

JICA’s primary objective is to examine effective collaboration models between local startups and Japanese enterprises. By doing so, they aim to bolster the local startup ecosystem through private sector-driven innovation. The initiative is designed to create avenues for startups to discover new strategic partners, investors, and enterprise clients within NEC.

Potential Benefits for Startups

Kohei Muto, CEO of Double Feather Partners, the Japan-based VC and consulting firm spearheading the project for JICA, emphasized the potential benefits. “The aim is to enhance startups’ prospects of securing new strategic partners, investors, or enterprise clients within NEC. Additionally, identifying potential exit paths in the case of a perfect strategic fit could provide significant value to venture capitalists, especially if the selected startup is part of their portfolio,” said Muto.

Application Process

Interested startups are encouraged to apply to the program by July 28. This accelerator presents a unique opportunity for South African startups to scale and innovate through collaboration with a global technology leader.