Japanese Ministry Begins Hunt for Next Steve Jobs


2:51 pm JST
May 27, 2014

Economy & Business

Japanese Ministry Begins Hunt for Next Steve Jobs


Apple’s Steve Jobs in 1997.
Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Here’s to the crazy ones.

That slogan, used by Apple Inc.AAPL +1.39% in commercials years ago, might also apply to a new plan by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. It aims to find the next technology mogul in Japan through a program it says will back people who are “hen,” a Japanese word that means odd, weird or crazy.

Starting in late June, the ministry will seek individuals with technology ideas that may cause “disruptive change” or projects with the potential to “create new values throughout the globe.”

The ministry said it would provide up to ¥3 million ($30,000) per year to about 10 projects that it deems fit. The recipients will also get training from tutors.

“It can be any ambitious idea that has the potential to push information and communication technologies to new levels,” a senior officer at the ministry said. In a country that sometimes frowns on round pegs in square holes, the ministry is willing to embrace the unique ideas that people who are “hen” come up with, she said.

Quoting Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, the ministry also said it understood that innovators may slip up. “Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations,” the ministry said.

Steve Jobs was a great entrepreneur, but he was a very unique person,” the senior officer said. “The ministry is willing to respect such people and provide support.”

The ministry is seeking an entity to administer the program, and companies or organizations seeking to fill that role must submit applications by June 10. They must have the personnel and facilities to carry out administration of the program, according to the ministry

The ministry will begin accepting applications from individuals with innovative ideas in late June.

Corrections & Amplifications: The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications is seeking an entity to administer a program to encourage innovation, and that program will provide funding to individuals with innovative ideas. Applications by organizations for the administration role are due by June 10, while individuals can apply starting in late June. An earlier version of this post incorrectly implied that the funding for innovative ideas would go only to companies, and it incorrectly said that those seeking funding for innovative ideas must apply by June 10. In addition, the earlier version incorrectly identified a senior officer of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications as a spokeswoman.




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同省で現在募集するのは、この業務を実施する民間企業1社のみで、個人の募集は始まっていない。にもかかわらず、勘違いした個人から電話が次々とかかり、 すでに届いた提案書は10数通にも上るという。同省は4日、「個人の募集は6月末以降。届いた書類やメールは返送または廃棄する」として、注意を呼びかけ た。

この事業は「独創的な人向け特別枠(仮称)」。同省によると「ICT(情報通信技術)分野において破壊的な地球規模の価値創造を生み出すために、大いなる 可能性がある奇想天外でアンビシャスな技術課題に挑戦する人を支援する」というもの。対象は、大いなる可能性のあるICT課題に挑戦する個人で、義務教育 を修了した人。研究費は300万円が上限で、10件程度の採択を見込む。

同省は5月22日、この事業を公表するとともに、業務を実施する民間企業1社の公募を始めた。すると、ネットニュースで取り上げられ、これをみた人たちか ら、同省に電話が殺到。朝から晩まで電話がふさがるほどの状態が続いているという。カウントできないほどの数で、累計で数百件にも上るとみられる。