October 16, 2018
  • Rakuten, Inc.

Rakuten Announces Winners of Rakuten Technology & Innovation Awards 2018

Awards chosen in four categories based on the central theme, “Rakuten Tech x Startup Tech”

Tokyo, October 15, 2018 - Rakuten, Inc. today announced the winners of the Rakuten Technology & Innovation Awards 2018. The awards will be presented at the upcoming Rakuten Technology Conference 2018 to be held on October 27, 2018.

The Rakuten Technology & Innovation Awards are awarded to individuals, organizations or products which have contributed to the transformation of society through advanced innovation. The Rakuten Technology Conference 2018 marks the 11th presentation of the awards. Focusing on this year’s theme of “Rakuten Tech x Startup Tech,” Rakuten aims to provide support for new startups, individuals and organizations who are committed to creating innovative in a variety of different fields through the awards.

The Rakuten Technology & Innovation Awards will be presented in four categories: Rakuten Empowerment, Technology, Innovation and Startup. The criteria for each category are outlined below.

Rakuten Empowerment Award
Awarded to individuals, companies or organizations which have made outstanding achievements that share Rakuten’s core values and echo its mission to contribute to society by creating value through innovation and entrepreneurship.

Technology Award
Awarded to individuals, companies or organizations which have developed cutting-edge technologies or utilized existing technologies at an advanced level to create new social achievements.

Innovation Award
Awarded to individuals, companies or organizations which have created innovative technologies or business models that have transformed society.

Startup Award
Awarded to startups with great business potential and ambition, as well as high expectations for future growth.

Through the awards, Rakuten will continue to support individuals and organizations who are committed to transforming society through technological advancements, and contribute to the development of Japan’s economy.

Winners of the Rakuten Technology & Innovation Awards 2018

Rakuten Empowerment Award
Winner: Takeshi Izuka, founder of Kirirom Institute of Technology

Reason for Selection:
Takeshi Izuka established the Kirirom Institute of Technology (KIT), a vocational training university that provides Cambodian students opportunities to work with Japanese IT companies on projects utilizing state-of-the-art technology.

Students of KIT work as project partner interns on projects for Japanese IT companies. Through these projects, the students develop important technical and career skills. Examples of projects worked on by students of KIT include creating VR/AR tech for real estate businesses, a water meter development project utilizing IoT, land surveying with drones, and the launch of a smart city concept.

Izuka’s mission is to provide young people in Cambodia with career opportunities that are seldom offered in their homeland, while at the same time encouraging Japanese companies to recruit young talent from abroad and improving the infrastructure for taking in global talent.

After seeing success as an IT consultant and entrepreneur, Izuka ventured into Cambodia to work on a tech-focused, innovative education business. His willingness to embrace challenges in order to empower others is very much in line with Rakuten’s own mission of creating value through innovation and entrepreneurship. For that, Izuka has been awarded the Rakuten Empowerment Award.

Technology Award
Winner: HoloEyes Inc.

Reason for Selection:
HoloEyes Inc. brought the world HoloEyes VR, which uses VR technology in the important field of medicine.

Traditionally, the information used by surgeons to understand the condition of their patients from CT scans, MRIs and X-rays is 2D information. Holoeyes VR, which utilizes VR technology, makes it possible to recreate images of the patient’s organs in 3D, enabling surgeons to plan their operations in more detail. Additionally, HoloEyes is collecting these 3D CT scans in order to build an image library for future use by doctors for diagnosis, training and surgical planning.

HoloEyes hopes to provide support for surgeons by making their work more accurate and precise with VR technology in the field of medicine. For that, HoloEyes has been awarded the Technology Award.

Innovation Award
Winner: TABETE.me (product of CoCooking Co., Ltd.)

Reason for Selection: 
Japan is known for the high quality of its restaurants and high levels of service, but this results in the unintended consequence of restaurants often throwing away perfectly good food. TABETE.me is a service that aims to solve the problem of food wastage in restaurants in Japan.

Participating restaurants simply post a photo and information of their current stock on TABETE.me to inform the app users. These users can order their meals online immediately and pick them up at the restaurant later. This helps to reduce food waste, while at the same time helping restaurants sell off their remaining stock and providing app users with perfectly good meals at a delicious discount. It is an innovative approach to solve the abundant food wastage issue seen in Japan.

For their leveraging of technology to create a business model that solves a common societal problem, TABETE.me has been awarded the Innovation Award.

Startup Award
Winner: AND Global

Reason for Selection:   
AND Global aims to provide accessible financial services, such as micro-lending, digital wallet payments and installment loans, to millions of under-banked people around the world.

AND Global started in Mongolia, where due to low average monthly income, people tend not to be able to earn credit to get loans from institutions, often relying on friends and families for informal loans. In order to address this social issue, the company developed their signature product LendMN, which allows banks to give out small loans. Users are given a credit score based on an AI system that makes novel use of data points such as smartphone use and employment history.

Since 2017, their app has helped increase accessibility and accountability in micro lending, and they are currently disbursing over 2500 loans a day. The app has also achieved impressive loan repayment rates of 98.5%. The company has also expanded overseas, using partners to expand LendMN’s services to the Philippines and Japan.

For AND Global’s ambition and speed of growth, they have been awarded the Startup Award.

Selection Committee
Chairman:
Hiroshi Mikitani, President and CEO, Rakuten, Inc.
Committee Members:
Yasufumi Hirai, Executive Vice President, Rakuten, Inc.
Masaya Mori, Global Head of Rakuten Institute of Technology
Rakuten Technology Conference Committee

*Please note that the information contained in press releases is current as of the date of release.

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