500 Startups Kobe Accelerator for COVID-19 Emerging Technology

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Why COVID-19 Emerging Technology?

The spread of COVID-19 has not only taken a toll on human health, but has also wreaked havoc on economies and disrupted social life. This raises the need to develop solutions to mitigate the widespread consequences of the pandemic, including preventive health tools, accurate tracking of infections, remote medical care, remote work and study, and efficient food distribution, among others.

The fifth 500 KOBE accelerator program will focus on supporting startups in their quest to solve these pressing issues.

We believe that the technology that comes out of this program will set a new standard as we prepare for the post-pandemic world.

Pandemic Solutions

  • Telemedicine Support
  • Disease testing solutions
  • Emergency information transmission and false information detection
  • Solutions for personal hygiene, disinfection and public safety
  • Geo-tracking during a disaster
  • Safe food supply and delivery technology etc.

Post-Pandemic Solutions

  • Remote Work and e-Learning Support
  • Online event management and operations
  • Medical data sharing and privacy protection solution
  • Health Management Support
  • Automation and sensor technology etc.

About the program

500 Startups

Kobe City has been partnering with San Francisco-based venture capital firm 500 Startups since 2016. It has supported 71 startups in total, providing mentorship and funding in excess of ¥10 billion. In light of COVID-19, the accelerator will host its fifth program virtually.

Our first, second and third programs have focused broadly on technology, and healthtech was the theme of our fourth program. This year the focus will be on startups and technologies that are tackling the many challenges that have become apparent in the disruption caused by COVID-19.

500 Startups is one of the world’s most active early-stage investment firms. Since its inception in Silicon Valley, 500 Startups has invested in over 2,400 companies across more than 75 countries. Through a eight-week practical program that includes one-on-one coaching from a global team of experts, we aim to build a thriving Japanese startup ecosystem in Kobe. This program welcomes startups from all over the world.

Online Program

Though participants were needed to stay in Kobe in the previous batches, all programs will be conducted online this year! You can participate from anywhere in the world.

We are creating our own program taking advantage of nature of the virtual program.

  • videos created by 500 Startups for this program
  • 1-on-1 online mentoring sessions considering a time difference
  • Community building through video conference

What do startups get


You'll get access to mentors from the 500 Startups global team and partners. Mentors will be available for 1:1 meetings and can share wisdom from the Silicon Valley entrepreneurial experience.


Lectures from members of the 500 team and notable guests on marketing, monetization, product design and more.


Work with your team as part of a carefully selected community of awesome startups!

Special Mentor

Masayo Takahashi M.D., Ph.D.

President, Vision Care Inc.

The city of Kobe loves state-of-the-art initiatives, and no matter how outlandish I say something, they always work hard to find a way to make it come true. My dreams of the world's first regenerative medicine and the unique eye care multi-functional facility "Eye Center" have come true in Kobe.
Kobe City seems to be planning to expand globally and try to do newer initiatives through 500KOBE.
I believe that such challenges should encourage the creation of new businesses. I'm excited and looking forward to seeing what kind of attractive startups will be born.

2019- Present President, Vision Care Inc.

2018- 2019 Project leader, Laboratory for Retinal Regeneration, RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research, Japan

2012-2018 Project Leader, Laboratory for Retinal Regeneration, RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, Japan

2006-2012 Team Leader, Laboratory for Retinal Regeneration, RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, Japan

2001-2006 Associate professor, Team Leader of retinal regeneration project, Translational Research Center, Kyoto University Hospital

1995-1996 Post-doc in Laboratory of Genetics, the Salk Institute, (Prof. Gage)

1992-2001 Assistant professor of Ophthalmology, Kyoto University Hospital

1992 Obtained Ph.D., Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Japan

1986-1987 Ophthalmology, Kyoto University Hospital

1986 Obtained M.D., Faculty of Medicine, Kyoto University, Japan