by Diana Ngo
A new fund has been launched in Japan to invest in startups tackling blockchain, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, security and biotechnology.
DG Lab Fund, an investment fund run by DG Daiwa Venture (a joint venture by Digital Garage and Daiwa Securities Group Inc.) will invest up to 20 billion JPY (US$190 million) during the next ten years in startups specializing in these cutting edge technologies.
DG Lab Fund will work in tandem with DG Lab, an open innovation-based research and development organization. Specifically, the fund will leverage DG Lab’s network and research findings on these five technologies to make strategic investment decisions.
Launched earlier this month and with a presence in Tokyo, San Francisco, New York and Boston, DG Lab is the result of a collaboration between Digital Garage and Credit Saison aimed at creating cutting edge businesses and developing innovative solutions in collaboration with foreign companies.
Digital Garage and blockchain technology
In February, Digital Garage participated in Blockstream’s US$55 million Series A funding round. The investment deal marked the company’s first significant involvement in blockchain technology. Digital Garage said back then that it intended to explore — in cooperation with other specialized firms — blockchain technology for solutions aimed at being deployed within the Japanese market.
With technical support from Blockstream, DG Lab said it sought to develop a generic smart contract technology that utilizes the blockchain for applications in areas that include rewards and loyalty programs, exchange systems for virtual currency, platforms for electronic money, contract execution and value transaction, and automation of rights licensing.
The company is working with a number of partners on these blockchain-related projects, including Bank of Yokohama, department store chain Parco, Resona Bank, Japanese legal portal Bengo4.com and tech startup iRidge.
Founded in 1995, Digital Garage is an IT company based in Tokyo that develops innovative solutions that leverage cutting edge technologies.
Following the collapse of Mt.Gox, once the largest bitcoin exchange in the world, Japan had remained timid and cautious towards cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.
In February, the Cabinet of Japan officially approved a set of regulations that recognize digital currencies as authorized payment instruments. The bullish move triggered a number of bitcoin and blockchain initiatives including the launch of a cryptocurrency exchanges FISCO COIN and Triple Dice Exchange, as well as a new collaboration between Infoteria and Singaporean startup Dragonfly Fintech for the development of a blockchain-based clearing and settlement infrastructure.
In April, Japan welcomed its first blockchain-dedicated consortium. Aimed at educating the public and raising awareness about blockchain technology, the Blockchain Collaboration Consortium is composed of 34 companies from the tech, finance and blockchain industries.