To support its growing strategic alliance Japan, UnaBiz has opened a new office in Tokyo - exploring new collaborations to expand its existing smart solutions offering.
The Singapore-based massive IoT services provider has a long-standing relationship with the Japanese market, having had telecom carrier KDDI – through its “SORACOM IoT Fund Program – led a group of investors in raising over US$10 million for UnaBiz Series A funding in 2018.
The partnership between the two companies came on the heels of the MOU signed that same year by Enterprise Singapore, Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) to facilitate collaboration and strengthen linkages between Singapore and Japan's innovation ecosystem.
And together with SORACOM, KYOCERA Communications Systems and Sigfox, UnaBiz has completed the first phase of the smart gas metre upgrade for NICIGAS in the first quarter of 2021, rolling out 850,000 units of the specially-design SPACE HOTARU gas meter readers. NICIGAS is now offering the solutions to other gas operators.
Pascal Gerbert-Gaillard, newly appointed managing director of UnaBiz Japan, said the establishment of a local office is “a natural move for UnaBiz”.
“We believe that the new entity will bring us closer to our Japanese shareholders like KDDI, and our customers like NICIGAS, to help them develop high quality, sustainable, and reliable IoT solutions for the Japan market and the rest of the world,” Gerbert-Gaillard said.
Post Series A, UnaBiz joined the “Invest Tokyo” programme and worked with Accenture, the global management consulting group, on its Japan market entry strategy. The market research and growth formulation strategies helped UnaBiz identify important partners and key sectors to focus on.
“We see a great deal of synergy in IoT use cases for the Singapore and Japanese markets, especially in areas that address the challenges faced by its fast-ageing population, shrinking workforce and high manpower cost,” Gerbert-Gaillard said.
He added: “Japan is constantly developing next-generation technologies to supplement the declining workforce—an issue further exacerbated by COVID-19. To this end, we are already working with several large corporations to develop solutions targeting Facilities Management, Utilities, Supply Chain & Logistics, and Healthcare Services and use data to improve the lives of Japanese citizens.”
Meanwhile Henri Bong, CEO and co-founder of UnaBiz, expressed optimism in the appointment of Gerbert-Gaillard to head the the company’s new Tokyo office.
“We want to connect with Japan’s vibrant innovation ecosystem to increase our global competitiveness and accelerate the buildout of stronger IoT infrastructure and scale globally,” Bong said. “Pascal is an entrepreneur and an experienced general manager who specialises in cross border projects in Asia, where he has been based since 2008. Having worked in several industries and lastly as Asia Director for Bio c’ Bon group, Pascal brings a wealth of knowledge in Retail, Food, Energy and Technology, all key sectors for UnaBiz.”
Increased local presence welcomed
According to Kenichi Matsuki, director at Kyocera Communication Systems , the entry of UnaBiz is proof that Japan is one of the largest IoT markets in the world.
“We hope that the opening of the Tokyo office will further promote the use of the Sigfox network in Japan. As the exclusive Japan Sigfox operator and the win-win partner of UnaBiz, KYOCERA Communication Systems will continue to strive and develop the IoT market in Japan, making use of our experience, expertise and network infrastructure to develop solutions with domestic customers and partners,” Matsuki said.
Ken Tamagawa, CEO & co-founder of SORACOM said: “We are very excited to work with UnaBiz, and we are sure that their passion and expertise will help Japanese enterprises adopt IoT in a creative and future-oriented way. With UnaBiz’s solution and SORACOM’s global IoT connectivity, we will connect many more devices and truly deliver on the benefits and promise of "Massive IoT".
Rieko Tagawa, director in charge of attracting foreign companies to Japan from the Strategic Projects Division in the Office of the Governor for Policy Planning of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, said UnaBiz's expansion into country is a testament to the success of the "Invest Tokyo" program, which identifies foreign companies in the fields of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, IoT, big data and analytics.
“We are pleased to have UnaBiz in our program and look forward to facilitating more collaborations between UnaBiz and local Japanese companies to bring innovative solutions to the global ICT, plant and energy market for sustainable development,” she said.