MARUNOUCHI: Attracting foreign ventures to spur growth, interactions with major Japanese firms

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A door opens to a conference room and the red brick facade of Tokyo Station fills the window. A wood desk sits solidly in the middle of the room. Jan Dusek, a business development officer for Belgian environment-related venture company shecco's Tokyo subsidiary, offers a seat to a visiting executive from a Japanese manufacturer. “Thank you for coming,” Dusek says confidently in Japanese.

Its headquarters in Tokyo's prestigious Marunouchi district, shecco Japan is located on the 10th floor of the Shin-Marunouchi Building. This 1,300-square-meter space is currently occupied by 14 venture companies from Japan and abroad, including shecco, which moved in this spring. It is a rental office platform called EGG Japan (Entrepreneur Group for Growing Japan) that was created by Mitsubishi Estate to coincide with the building's opening in 2007, providing a base for ventures pursuing growth on a global scale.

A small company, shecco has a staff of only about 20 people worldwide. Through seminars and other activities, it works to popularize natural refrigerants that have a low impact on global warming. Its Marunouchi office is its first outside Belgium. Dusek, who is the only member of the staff stationed in Japan on a permanent basis, explains why shecco chose to set up an office in this high-priced district.

“In Japan, first impressions are important," the 31-year-old Dusek says. "When doing business with major corporations, your location and key meeting room must establish credibility.”

EGG Japan's 23 partitioned offices are only large enough to accommodate a few people. They are furnished, and have telephone and Internet access. There is a shared conference room and a cafeteria offering cuisine prepared by chefs from the Royal Park Hotel. It also frequently serves as a venue for networking events for entrepreneurs and investment companies, such as a party put on by shecco Japan in April with the assistance of Mitsubishi Estate. Mitsubishi Estate has also helped to explain how to read Japanese business cards.

Rental fees on the 10th floor are lower than others catering to major companies, but the only companies that can take up occupancy are those that Mitsubishi Estate regards as having promising future prospects. In October 2012, it created the Tokyo Client Business Development Office to attract companies and support their endeavors. Its staff travel far afield to places such as Silicon Valley in Northern California, and in spring of this year it welcomed Palo Alto Research Center, known for developing basic technologies for computers such as the LAN system, and social networking giant LinkedIn as new tenants.

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