SingularityU Japan Global Impact Challenge

What’s your moonshot idea to improve the quality of life of 100 million Japanese people over 5 years using exponential technology?

2018 Winners


Takao Watanabe and team

2018 Winner
Takao Watanabe

Left to right: Tomohito Yamazaki, Yasuhito Sakuraba, Naoki Yamamoto, Takao Watanabe, Kyohei Kondo, Tomoki Nakano

Project: OpenCradle
An open research platform for early childhood education



SingularityU Japan GIC Winners

2018 Winner
Jun Suto

Left to right: Jun Suto, Katsuki Ikeda, Yoshiko Takahashi, Yukou Enomomto

Project: Oya Book
Digitized and globalized book that significantly improves elderly care, elderly care fatigue/burnout, and related financial burdens


The purpose of the SingularityU Japan Global Impact Challenge is to foster moonshot innovations and startups that positively impact the lives of people living in Japan, with an ability to scale and impact a billion people worldwide in 10 years.

What moonshot innovation would you develop to solve a global grand challenge (environment, energy, water, food, health, disaster resilience, governance, learning, space, security, prosperity, and shelter) using exponential technology that would impact the lives of a billion people in the next 10 years?

The Prize

The winner receives a seat at the SU Ventures Incubator Program. The Incubator Program is a 10-week program that fosters the development of viable start-ups (for profit or not-for profit).

The SU Ventures Incubator Program runs from April 2, 2018 to May 18, 2018.

The Incubator Program Journey

The incubator program journey

Sponsored exclusively by:

SONY logo

Portrait of Maria from GSP15

Maria’s key GSP15 take-aways

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A group of people at GSP16

The first five weeks of GSP16

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Woman on stage speaking into a microphone

Five big ideas from GSP16

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Rules & Criteria

Applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • The challenge is open to residents and citizens of Japan
  • You must be age 21 or older
  • You must be fluent in written and spoken English
  • You must be able to participate for the entire Incubator program from April 2, 2018 to May 18, 2018.
  • Applicants selected as finalists will be interviewed by a panel of judges on Saturday, January 27, 2018.

We look for people from all professional backgrounds, but will be really thrilled to find you if:

  • You’re a founder of an idea-stage startup or an individual with a moonshot idea.
  • You’re an accomplished entrepreneur, technologist, scientist, or change agent with expertise in your chosen field(s).
  • You’re already considering how to leverage exponential technologies to create a positive impact in the world.
  • You’re committed to the long-term journey of launching an impact-focused startup

We will evaluate submissions using the following criteria:

  • Degree of the solution’s relevance to the theme of the challenge
  • The regional relevance in solving the challenge in Japan
  • Coherence of the idea and the feasibility and viability of implementing it
  • Entrepreneurial and innovative potential, with a focus on technological novelty
  • Quality of applicants’ leadership experience, profile, achievements, and potential
  • CV/Resume
  • Summary of accomplishments
  • An abstract of the project idea
    • Within the abstract, describe and detail the following: Your idea and problem/opportunity you are addressing, your solution and long-term impact, applied technology for your solution, and your business model
  • Video URL of the project idea
  • Applications open: November 1, 2017
  • Applications close: January 7, 2018
  • Pitch event & Winners announced: January 27, 2018

GIC Organizing Team

Jovan Rebolledo

Jovan Rebolledo

Lead Organizer

GSP09 Alumnus
GSP14, GSP15, GSP16, GSP17
Faculty in AI & Robotics: Fellow

Kazunori Saito

Kazunori Saito


EP2015 Alumnus

Satomi Yoshida

Satomi Yoshida


Frequently Asked Questions

Global Impact Challenges (GICs) are annual incentive competitions held in partnership with sponsor organizations worldwide and organized by geography and theme. These challenges act as a platform to identify outstanding entrepreneurs, leaders, scientists, and engineers with the most innovative ideas for moonshot innovations and startups that can positively impact a billion people in 10 years. The winner of each challenge receives a full sponsorship to attend an SU program.

We are looking for early-phase startup ideas or individuals with a moonshot ideas. Judging criteria is based on the grandness of the idea—such as whether it solves a problem with a potential to positively impact millions of people, technological novelty, viability of implementing it and applicants leadership potential.

If you’re a later-stage venture, check out the SU Ventures program.

Intellectual property resulting from a GIC belongs to the applicant(s).

The selection process has 2-3 phases, depending on the GIC. The first phase involves a review of all applications to determine 5-10 finalists, and the second phase involves final judging to select the winner at a pitch event.

GIC winners are responsible for their own travel expenses to/from SU.

In all cases where a winner cannot attend the Incubator program, the winner forfeits their seat to the GIC first runner-up and would have to then re-apply for admission in a future year.


Still have questions?

Get in touch with the Japan GIC organizers by emailing them at [email protected], or contact the Global Impact Challenges team at SU at [email protected].