Bringing the Startup Ecosystem Together at the FutureFusion Forum

October 18, 2023

By Shintaro Matsumoto, President and CEO

We had the pleasure of hosting the NEC X FutureFusion Forum on September 14th. The event was a tremendous success with over 250 attendees including entrepreneurs and startups, investors, academic professors and corporate leaders. The large conference room at the Hyatt Centric Mountain View was completely packed, with standing room only, and as the newly-appointed CEO, I was excited to present about NEC X’s fifth anniversary and future direction, including the launch of our new venture studio program, “Elev X!”.

The day-long event featured an impressive number of inspiring speakers and presentations, including:

  • Hajime Kishimori, the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco
  • Aude Oliva, MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab, MIT Schwarzman College of Computing, MIT CSAIL
  • John Carrier, MIT Sloan School of Management
  • Rachel Chalmers, Stealth Startup
  • Motoo Nishihara, NEC Corporation

Listening to the sessions, I felt the swell of the world’s most advanced technology and the importance and difficulty of using them. Generative artificial intelligence (AI) is only at the very cusp of its development and potential. MIT is moving at an exponential pace in its development of AI models and what they can do. From Hollywood movies to personalized medicine developed entirely by AI, the opportunities are endless, and they are developing fast. In fact, MIT’s Aude Oliva stated that she spends several hours reading the news every morning just to keep up with AI developments that occurred overnight!

Rachel Chalmers said that generative AI is an opportunity she hasn’t seen in 25 years, and I couldn’t agree more. However, with the potential of AI also comes risk. There was a lot of discussion about ethics and how it’s important to stay grounded in what we do with AI. “AI is for the good, the bad, and the ugly,” as Aude said. NEC’s Motoo Nishihara said that the path from R&D to product launch is shortening and we will see a lot of change in five years; regulatory governance over AI is essential.

Panel discussion “Innovation Ecosystem and Generative AI”

The FutureFusion Forum also featured many captivating pitches from promising NEC X’s alumni startups. Watching their pitches, I was impressed by the uniqueness of startups we have launched together with, and their potential for growth. Each pitch generated quite a lot of interest and questions from the audience, and I was happy to see all of the networking afterwards. Startup pitches included: Beagle TechnologyFlyhound, Q.I., NavigateIOMetabob, and more.

Panel discussion by startups that graduated from the NEC X program

It was an exciting day for NEC X, and especially myself, as I provided a five-year reflection and our future vision, with the launch of our groundbreaking venture studio program, “Elev X!”. NEC X has transformed from a technology-centric approach to an entrepreneur-centric model over the past five years, and we structured everything into Elev X! for entrepreneurs and want to empower them to achieve great success. Elev X! offers two development tracks: Ignite and Boost. Elev X! Ignite is designed for entrepreneurs in the ideation phase. Here, experienced innovators and researchers collaborate closely, providing hands-on support to turn ideas into viable, scalable products. Elev X! Boost is for seed stage startups, providing technology licensing, product development support, seed funding, and connections to investors, to accompany and scale business.As the newly appointed CEO of NEC X, I couldn’t be more excited about our future. We intend to expand our co-creation partnerships, such as those with MIT, Stanford University, Alchemist Accelerator, SVG Ventures | THIRIVE creating a collaborative environment for innovative ventures. We will be diving deeper into the startup ecosystem, connecting startups with essential investor support to help them thrive. We also remain dedicated to helping startups by leveraging NEC X and NEC’s vast resources in R&D, technology, product marketing and more.

Our vision, mission and roadmap are clear and it’s going to be a fun ride. But it takes an entire ecosystem on this road to success. So please join us in our journey in creating new opportunities and inspiring startups that solve today’s societal problems and improve the world for us all.