Startups team up with big tech: What to expect at Rakuten Technology Conference 2018

Speakers and guests are all set to descend on Rakuten’s Tokyo headquarters for the Rakuten Technology Conference on Saturday, October 27. Planned and executed by an international team of top-tier engineers and inspired by industry trends, the annual conference tackles a new theme each year.

Under the banner of “Rakuten Tech & Startup Tech,” this year’s theme shines the spotlight on the new challengers pursuing innovation and transformation, as well as taking a closer look at the interplay between startup breakthroughs and Rakuten’s own technologies.

Reflecting on the importance of collaboration, Conference Chair and Global Head of Rakuten Institute of Technology Masaya Mori commented, “Interaction between startups and existing businesses plays a significant role in starting an innovative business.” This year, Mori wants to focus on the strengths of both players. “While startups can experiment with totally new projects, they don’t have so much data to work with.”

Masaya Mori, Conference Chair and Global Head of Rakuten Research Institute
Masaya Mori, Conference Chair and Global Head of Rakuten Research Institute

He emphasized the importance of startups partnering with data platforms that offer a well-organized management system for utilizing data. On the other side of the coin, some older enterprises boast a vast quantity of data, but may not have enough capacity for generating new ideas and innovations—exactly where startups can shine.

Rakuten Tech & Startup Tech

The conference sessions, organized into seven parallel tracks, feature some of the industry’s most creative minds and innovators focusing on topics ranging from AI, data science, robotics, education, AR/VR/MR, blockchain, cloud native computing to world-class open source software, and more. In a first for the conference, the speakers will also join fireside chats and roundtables to encourage direct, constructive discussion with all participants.

The South Stage track features keynotes from Rakuten founder and CEO Mickey Mikitani and groundbreaking stem-cell researcher Dr. Masayo Takahashi of the RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research. It also plays host to talks from experts in blockchain tech, big data, autonomous vehicles, and AI before the Rakuten Technology & Innovation Award Ceremony, a highlight of the conference, begins at 5pm.

At the North Stage, attendees can catch a sense of what it’s like working in the fast-paced world of tech by observing a competitive hackathon, where participants are tasked with solving a real-world problem or innovating a business by using a Rakuten technology or API and combining it with a non-Rakuten technology or API.

In addition to the incredible depth of tech-related content, participants will also have the opportunity to experience technology firsthand with an array of exhibits that include the 3D surgical medtech Holoeyes, the smart apparel technology “e-skin,” and the world’s first smart braille watch, Dot. There’s also plenty of entertainment over at the Kids Park, including a VR Museum, Build and Play robots, and GLICODE (aka “coding with candy”), among other fun activities for children of all ages.

With so much on offer at Rakuten Technology Conference 2018, we hope you’ll be able to join us – in person or remote!

The Rakuten Technology Conference will take place on October 27, 2018 at Rakuten Crimson House in Tokyo, and at multiple satellite locations across Japan, China, Singapore and the USA. You can plan your day by consulting the conference schedule.

Note: Photos shown are from Rakuten Technology Conference 2017.

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