About Gifu University

Fostering entrepreneurship and a start-up club

*Information related to faculty members/students and graduate schools at Gifu University here are all that of the time of interviewing.

Toward an environment that promotes the growth of entrepreneurial students; efforts to match provision with external demand

01.png

Almost all the students attending entrepreneurship classes are "considering setting up a business"

In accordance with the University's decision to create more new businesses, the establishment of the Tokai Start-up Ecosystem -- Gifu University's regional regeneration project that is part of the regional development vision for 2030 -- is fostering future entrepreneurs.

The original motivation behind this fostering of entrepreneurs was the fact that students were increasingly setting up business ventures. Entrepreneurial students had always existed, and members of the faculty had contact with them on an individual basis. However, there are now initiatives to create a community of like-minded people. That said, the number students interested in starting a business is still very low in absolute terms. Thus, the University is aiming to raise the overall level of awareness and widen the potential pool of entrepreneurs, thereby hoping to increase the likelihood of students creating business ventures that have social impact.

The Introduction to Entrepreneurship lecture series offered for the fostering of entrepreneurs since the last academic year is an important element in the GU's program. During these sessions, students hear about the experiences of active entrepreneurs and businesspeople, examine previous cases, and receive basic information regarding the setting-up of a new business. Thus, the students themselves investigate and identify the issues being faced by the local community, and come up with ideas for businesses that may resolve these issues.

According to a survey of 20 students who took the course in the first semester of this academic year, almost everyone said that they were considering the establishment of some kind of business. Although it seems likely that the students who opted for this course had a certain degree of entrepreneurial spirit from the outset, this result is still staggering. As of the end of the first-semester lectures, five of the attending students have already joined the "start-up club" (see inset on page 10) and two are considering joining. Two other students have already begun preparations to actually start a business.

In multiple cases, the business ideas honed by the students during the course have arisen as a result of their own experiences, or those of a close family member or friend. The students have researched the issue in question and begun to find a solution. Because the business ideas are based on issues that are close to the students, the proper consideration of profitability is sometimes lacking. However, in every case, the proposal is unique because it results from the viewpoint of the respective student. For example, among the students' proposals were: the development of a nationwide platform for campus student radio stations, the opening of a café for the elderly that is staffed by nursing and nursing care students, and the establishment of a dedicated social media website for GU students. The idea of the social media site arose as a result of the pandemic weakening connections between students. An online meeting place facilitates interaction between arts students and science students, and makes the site extremely valuable for the potential it offers in the generation of innovative ideas. Thus, alongside the student who designed the site, the University is expediting preparations to open the site as an online message board dedicated to GU students.

The Introduction to Entrepreneurship course will run again with different students in the second semester. From next academic year, we intend to offer a more practical, in-depth start-up program to a smaller number of students.

"Introductory course for Entrepreneurship" at General Education  

02.png
This course covers the basics of entrepreneurship. Students who take the course research and identify issues faced by the contemporary business world and the local community, and acquire the basic knowledge and skills required to propose ideas that resolve those issues. Additionally, the process of creating a business plan that meets the needs of the community raises students' awareness of their future careers and the world of business, and fosters their entrepreneurial skills.

Page Top

The initially 4-member "start-up club" grew to 25 members in 18 months

03.png

Students striving to start a business set up a "Kigyoubu" (start-up club) in April 2020 to promote growth and encouragement as a result of the members' sharing of their varied experiences and knowledge. This was the first start-up club authorized by a university in central Japan. Entrepreneurship seminars which began in around 2018 triggered the establishment of the club. At first, the seminars attracted few participants, but those who attended included student entrepreneur Shota Asahi, and Shunya Chosokabe, who later led the start-up club. I had heard them say that they would welcome like-minded associates. Those who aim to start a new business end up isolated from those around them because no-one else shares their thoughts. It was due to this that they wanted to create a community. We thought that a place where continuous support could be provided would benefit students who have an appetite for starting new businesses. Thus, acting as an advisor, I helped the students set up the start-up club. Initially, it was a small club with only four members, but 18 months later, the number has grown to 25, and there is every sign that it will continue to grow.

The start-up club sets great store by the "Yes and..." discourse. This refers to the manner of response within a conversation in which Person A does not reject the words of Person B, but instead accepts them and adds their own ideas. This practice ensures that students can act without inhibition. Members are welcome to freely discuss anything that is not against public policy. The club meets every Wednesday and Friday evening, and there is always a lively discussion that takes place. Central to the meetings is the activity report that is written by each member. Recently, we have received increasingly positive messages from well-known business people who have asked to speak at the club. The power of students with an entrepreneurial spirit is palpable.

This academic year has seen the emergence of a number of entrepreneurs from among the members of the start-up club. The first president of the club, Shunya Chosokabe, set up a company in September this year. The current president Tsubasa Hasegawa, and master's student Moeka Sugie are talking about starting business ventures soon. It is interesting to note that students who have made the decision to start their own business are seeking out peers at the start-up club. I believe that this marks the beginning of a new steady stream of value creation that originates in the start-up club. If students in the vanguard can act as role models, other students will surely want to emulate them, and this will facilitate the formation of an exemplary circle of students.

04.png

06.png
05.png

A "Kigyoubu (start-up club)" led by student and faculty volunteers was set up in April 2020. It is an official group within Gifu University, and the first one of its kind in central Japan. The aim of the club is to foster students with entrepreneurial spirit, and enable them to create businesses that can resolve local issues. The club serves as a community that promotes growth as members encourage one another by sharing their experiences and knowledge. Alongside workshops on marketing and how to start a business, interaction with other universities and entrepreneurs broadens the perspectives of club members and raises their awareness of the world of business. Faculty advisors and local business support institutions encourage students' independent actions, with the aim of the creation of new businesses and the revitalization of the local economy.

Page Top

Aiming for the nationwide expansion of the Tokai model of entrepreneur education

We intend to further enhance our entrepreneur-related education, which includes the Introduction to Entrepreneurship course, and broaden the activities of the start-up club. Additionally, we are currently focusing on the analysis of research results that have a strong potential for commercialization within the University. If we can skillfully match research results identified at the University with students who intend to set up a business, we can create circumstances that will further encourage the emergence of students' business ventures based on research results.

To promote a sense of entrepreneurship in the community outside the University, we intend to deploy entrepreneurial students from across the institution to deliver entrepreneur-related education in elementary, junior high, and high schools. We believe that rather than starting to learn about entrepreneurship in university, relevant education needs to begin at a younger age. The dissemination of such education has the potential to transform the region.

Besides educating children in entrepreneurship, we also intend to promote the subject in the industrial world. We want to further refine our current entrepreneurship training and include it among subjects to be revisited often during a young person's education. We hope that GU's entrepreneur-related content can be rolled out across the Tokai region and then nationwide in the future, and lead to the invigoration of the Japanese economy.

Page Top

Entrepreneurs among Gifu University alumni

07.png

CEO, FiberCraze Inc.
Department of Materials Science and Processing
Graduate School of Natural Science and Technology

2nd year student Shunya Chosokabe


Inspired by the potential of the world-leading technology that was the subject of his research, Mr. Chosokabe set about commercializing it along with some associates. They are currently developing fiber and film with a range of functions that include insect repellent, moisture retention, and antiviral action. They presented their business plan as part of the Campus Venture Grand Prix competition in January 2021, and placed second in the nationwide category (Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology award, technology grand prize). A 23-year-old Mr. Chosokabe started the business in September 2021 while he was still a graduate student, with the intention of discovering new values and connecting them to society to realize unknown possibilities.

08.png

Nursing Course,
School of Medicine

4th year student Nanako Nomura



Having learnt about changes in nursing practices during course workshops and lectures, Ms. Nomura designed a career support program for nursing students that facilitates dialogue between students and healthcare professionals, to help them identify their field of interest and orient their career. To promote relevant learning, she carries out interviews and uploads them onto the Kantama Note (nursing egg) website to "incubate" fledging nurses and facilitate their selection of the appropriate path toward their career. Ms. Nomura was awarded a special prize by the judges at the Campus Venture Grand Prix national convention in January 2021.

09.png

Electrical and Electronic Course
Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering, Faculty of Engineering

4th year student Mitsuki Kato


Having taken on a project to support students, Mr. Kato ran the "Rakutan Theta Gidai Jouhou-kyoku", an online information service for Gifu University students. With the help of a website, along with Twitter, Line, and YouTube, the service provides students with constantly updated useful information, and updates from clubs, groups and the University itself. Besides creating and managing the business's website, Mr. Kato participated in a project to reform the structure of Gifu University's co-op. He successfully entered the Red Bull Basement 2020 global student business idea competition and was placed third in the GIFU YOUTH MEETING young person strategy contest. He was also the recipient of the Tongali Award, the Audience Award, and the Nagoya Credit Guarantee Corporation Award at the Tongali Idea Pitch Contest 2021.

10.png

Teacher Education Course
Graduate School of Education


1st year student Moeka Sugie


Ms. Sugie participated in the NAGOYA BOOST 10000 during her fourth year at the university, and formed a team whose aim was to create an environment in which teachers can thrive. She led the development of "JUST10min", a digital solution that supports teachers in their everyday lessons, and received an excellence award for the program. "JUST10min" is a software application that lightens the load of teachers in the classroom by methods such as the automatic production of board layouts upon the entering of a lesson plan. Some young teachers have been provided with trial versions, and improvements are being made ahead of the software application's official release. Ms. Sugie won the Tongali Award, the Mitsui & Co. Award, and the OKB Award at the Tongali Idea Pitch Contest 2021. At the 2021 Tokai Student Awards, she received the Best Prize and the Sense of Unity Prize.


Detailed explanation of icons

  • Internal links
  • Original sites
  • External links
  • File links