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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Saga Prefecture's "Cosmetics Initiative" to Connect with Overseas. Aiming to become an industrial cluster in northern Kyushu through open innovation in the public, private and academic sectors.

Saga Prefecture has been promoting the Cosmetics Initiative since 2012 in cooperation with Cosmetics Valley, the world's largest cosmetics industry cluster in France, in order to realize an international cosmetics cluster in northern Kyushu, centered on Saga Prefecture. Saga Prefecture, the Japan Cosmetics Center, universities, and private companies have been working together to promote industrial clusters within the region while conducting international trade. And in FY2020, an accelerator program was introduced to further accelerate this effort. Through collaboration between companies and startups in the prefecture, the program aims to create beauty and healthcare businesses that will change the world from Saga. We spoke with Junko Ohno, Director of the Cosmetics Initiative Promotion Office, Manufacturing Industry Division, Saga Prefecture, and Daizo Yashima, Counselor, Japan Cosmetics Center, about this initiative.

Saga Prefecture's "Cosmetics Initiative" in cooperation with France

-Please tell us about the "cosmetics concept" that Saga Prefecture is working on.

Japan The Cosmetics Initiative is a concept launched in 2012 to create an industrial cluster for beauty and health in Northern Kyushu, centered on Saga Prefecture, Karatsu City, and Genkai Town, with the aim of becoming a cosmetics hub for the Asian market.

It all started when Alban Muller, former chairman of Cosmetic Valley, the world's largest cosmetics industry cluster in France, visited a private company in Karatsu City, Saga Prefecture. Mr. Alban noted the abundant natural resources in the prefecture, including agricultural produce, and the fact that a small cluster had already emerged, albeit on a smaller scale, consisting of local companies in the cosmetics manufacturing, inspection, import agency, and logistics sectors.

Moreover, because of its convenient location within an hour's drive from Fukuoka, the city proposed the possibility of developing a business in collaboration with Japan and France as a strategic base for the growing Asian market. I was an employee of Karatsu City Hall at the time, and I went to France to visit the cosmetic valley.

What I witnessed there was that while large-scale Japanese cosmetics manufacturers have a single company that handles everything from planning to manufacturing, logistics, and promotion, small and medium-sized companies in the French cosmetic valley had created a supply chain of specialized companies that were connected horizontally. Each of these companies, including agriculture, processing, wholesale, formulation, containers/packaging, design, promotion, retail, etc., are connected, and I thought this could be a new model for local cities.

That is why we launched the Japan Cosmetic Center (hereafter referred to as JCC) in 2013 to create a new cosmetic industry cluster zone.

The JCC was joined by "Saga Prefecture," which had aspirations for an industrial policy with regional characteristics, and "Genkai Town," which had been cultivating oriental herbs in cooperation with Kyushu University as a way to promote industry. Thus, a mechanism for cooperation between companies in the prefecture, Karatsu City, Genkai Town, Saga Prefecture, and the university was established.

The JCC currently consists of 152 private companies, 14 universities, local governments, and related organizations, for a total of approximately 180 organizations.

30 exports and 120 products developed by 30 companies

-What activities have you done since launching the JCC in 2013?

Japan The four pillars we have set forth are "International Trade," "Raw Material Development," "Environmental Improvement," and "Industrial Clustering. For international trade, starting with France, we have partnered with organizations and companies in Italy, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, and China to promote business matching for import, export, and production.

For raw material development, we are trying to create an integrated supply chain from primary to tertiary industries by matching natural raw materials such as house mandarin oranges and other citrus fruits and camellias, which are the largest producers in Japan, with local industries.

In addition, in pursuit of a cluster, we have not only gathered business players, but have also provided support to attract companies and entrepreneurs to Saga Prefecture by developing an environment that includes the university's research and development function, human resource development function, and information accumulation function.

In terms of achievements, there are about 30 export contracts, and in product development, more than 120 products have been developed by 30 companies using raw materials extracted from grapefruits, oranges, strawberries, and other products produced in Saga Prefecture. Recently, United Arrows, Ltd. adopted Karatsu camellia oil for their skincare products.

In terms of industrial clusters, the JCC has attracted 7 companies from outside the prefecture and 18 new entrepreneurs have been born. By the end of this fiscal year, 380 people are expected to be employed, and the total value added, which was zero before the launch of the JCC, is expected to reach 12 billion yen.

Want to accelerate clustering by collaborating with startups

-What is the background behind the introduction of the Accelerator Program?

large field Of the four pillars of our efforts, product development was the one that was particularly successful. However, there were a number of pieces that were missing in order to create an industrial cluster. Among them, there were issues related to management consultation and start-up support for start-ups, as well as the development of human resources required by the cosmetics industry.

To support business start-ups in Saga Prefecture, with a population of 820,000, it makes no sense to do the same thing as in metropolitan areas. Therefore, a study meeting was held with JCC, Saga Prefecture, and experts. We came to the conclusion that Saga Prefecture has a foundation, the JCC, which is a collaboration of industry, government, and academia specializing in cosmetics, and that we should provide support for startups by taking advantage of the unique advantage of being connected to the French cosmetics valley.

And to accelerate the realization of the cosmetic cluster through collaboration between companies in the prefecture and start-ups starting in 2020, we have introduced an accelerator program titled "SAGAN BEAUTY & HEALTHCARE OPEN ACCELERATOR 2020". The program is designed to accelerate the realization of a cosmetics cluster.

Japan I felt that the buried resources that companies in Saga Prefecture may have been putting to sleep had the potential to be commercialized through the ideas and technological capabilities of startups, and that the Creww accelerator program could be a catalyst to bring nationwide recognition to the cosmetics concept in Saga Prefecture, which is minor nationally. I also felt that Creww's accelerator program could be the catalyst for a cosmetics initiative in Saga Prefecture, which is minor in Japan, to gain national recognition.

-What challenges did the four participating companies in the prefecture face?

Japan The four companies that participated in the event were Saga TV Corporation, Bloom Corporation, Sanei Kosan Corporation, and Crecos Corporation. Saga TV is a media company, but they were considering developing products from local agricultural products and new business in the healthcare area, while Bloom, which tests and inspects cosmetics, felt that the use of new technology was essential to developing services for the global market.

Sanei Kosan, a manufacturer and seller of barley tea and other products, wanted to have a pillar of business other than its existing business with startup ideas, and Crecos, a domestic organic cosmetics manufacturer, wanted to explore brand development and consumer appeal using the startup's new technology.

In any case, what we could do with the startups and what kind of businesses would be created is unknown, but we wanted to connect them to business development that we could not imagine as an extension of ourselves.

-In fact, what kind of startups applied?

Japan Although the number of applications varied depending on the participating companies, we received more applications than we expected from a wide variety of startups in areas such as AI, big data, healthcare, sports, and product development. Each company will now decide on a partner to collaborate with, brush up on the details of their business, and move forward to start demonstration experiments at the beginning of 2021.

Aiming to become "a city where it is easy to do cosmetic business and connect with the world

-What are your expectations for the Accelerator Program?

From Japan's easiest town for cosmetics business to the world .

August 24, 2020

large field I believe that the program will help develop human resources for companies in the prefecture, and I am hopeful that this will lead to business expansion.

Some of the applicants have proposed business models that cannot be found in the prefecture, or ideas that we never imagined, so I am very much looking forward to seeing what kind of chemical reactions will be generated through collaboration. Ultimately, I would be happy if we can realize the slogan of this accelerator program, "From the town where it is easiest to do cosmetics business in Japan to the world.

Japan The JCC also hopes to learn from the startups. If companies in the province can produce results, they will drive the industry in the province. We want to foster a culture and mindset so that the values and models of collaborating with startups become the norm, while creating a stir in strengthening management resources.

-What is your vision for the future of the cluster?

large field While providing opportunities to connect with overseas companies, we would like to support business models that can be accepted worldwide, and spread awareness domestically and internationally that "Saga Prefecture is known for its cosmetics business," leading to an industrial cluster. Saga Prefecture has long focused on startup support, and this fiscal year we established a specialized department called the DX Startup Promotion Office to strengthen our support system. In cooperation with such a department, we would like to support people who are taking on the challenge of creating new businesses.

Japan Discontinuous growth is achieved from a zero-one mindset. Therefore, Saga Prefecture and JCC will not be bound by the past, but will work with the idea of creating new things for new value. We would like to position the Accelerator Program as a catalyst for this. By creating and communicating the appeal of "a city where it is easy to do cosmetic business, a city that is connected to the world," we aim to create an industrial cluster like the Cosmetic Valley in France.

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Tomomi Tamura
He joined Snow Brand Milk Industry in 2000. He then worked for an advertising agency and as a sole proprietor before joining BizReach in 2012. Engaged in content creation, he joined NewsPicks in 2016 as an editor on the BrandDesign team, and is now a freelance writer and editor.


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