UnaBiz opens Tokyo office to boost standing in Asia, drive bid for global IoT development
Sigfox operator UnaBiz has opened an office in Tokyo, Japan, to strengthen its position in the Asia region and to “develop IoT solutions for the Japan market and the rest of the world”. The firm has a presence in Singapore, Taiwan, and Japan, as key regions in the Asian IoT market. The company holds Sigfox licences in both Singapore and Taiwan. It has a supply arrangement with Sigfox operator Kyocera and a key investment deal with mobile operator KDDI in Japan, via its SORACOM low-power IoT division and investment fund.
UnaBiz said the move will drive “new collaborations to expand its existing smart solutions offering” in the country, and expand its presence in the region overall. It called Japan “one of the top markets for ICT and IoT”. UnaBiz is looking to establish itself as an IoT development house in the region, with a major focus on Sigfox-based connectivity modules, but a developing interest in cellular IoT (LTE-M) and even LoRaWAN solutions alongside.
The company has appointed Pascal Gerbert-Gaillard to lead the new Japanese unit. Gerbert-Gaillard moves from a trade advisory role to the French government. He has previously held the directorship of French specialised organic chain Bio c’ Bon in Asia, and retains a board membership in the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry Japan, a non-profit business networking group in Tokyo.
It has worked with management consulting group Accenture on its market entry in Japan, it said, to help identify “growth formulation strategies”, alongside partners and sectors to focus on. Henri Bong, chief executive and co-founder at UnaBiz, commented: “We want to connect with Japan’s vibrant innovation ecosystem to increase our global competitiveness and accelerate the build-out of stronger IoT infrastructure and scale globally.”
Gerbert-Gaillard has been based in Asia since 2008. UnaBiz said he “specialises in cross border projects” in the region. He commented: “This is a natural move to develop… IoT solutions for the Japan market and the rest of the world. The new entity will bring us closer to our Japanese shareholders like KDDI and customers like NICIGAS, to help them develop high quality, sustainable, and reliable IoT solutions for the Japan market and the rest of the world.”
Kenichi Matsuki, director at Kyocera Communication Systems, said: “The entry of UnaBiz is proof that Japan is one of the largest IoT markets in the world. We hope that the opening of the Tokyo office will further promote the use of the Sigfox network in Japan. Kyocera will continue to develop the IoT market in Japan, making use of our experience, expertise, and network infrastructure to develop solutions with domestic customers and partners.”
Ken Tamagawa, chief executive and co-founder of SORACOM said: “[UnaBiz’s] passion and expertise will help Japanese enterprises adopt IoT in a creative and future-oriented way. With UnaBiz’s solution and SORACOM’s global IoT connectivity, we will connect many more devices and truly deliver on the benefits and promise of massive IoT.”
Singapore-based UnaBiz raised over $10 million in 2018 in a Series A funding round led by KDDI, via its SORACOM IoT fund. The company claims one of the largest smart metering projects in the region, having connected 850,000 gas meter readers for NICIGAS, Japan’s largest liquid petroleum gas entity. The project was a collaboration with Kyocera, as the operator, and SORACOM, as the solution provider.
In 2018 Singapore’s Economic Development Board and Japan’s External Trade Organisation signed a deal to facilitate collaboration between the countries’ “innovation ecosystems”. UnaBiz is involved in the Japanese government’s Invest Tokyo programme, aimed at attracting foreign tech investment in the country.
Rieko Tagawa, in the Japanese government’s office for policy planning, stated: “UnaBiz’s expansion is a testament to the success of the Invest Tokyo program, which identifies foreign companies in the fields of advanced technologies such as AI, robotics, IoT, big data, and analytics. We look forward to facilitating more collaborations between UnaBiz and local Japanese companies to bring innovative solutions… for sustainable development.”
Gerbert-Gaillard said: “We see great synergy in IoT use cases for the Singapore and Japanese markets, especially in areas that address the challenges faced by its fast-ageing population, shrinking workforce, and high manpower cost. Japan is constantly developing next-generation technologies to supplement the declining workforce – an issue exacerbated by COVID-19. We are working with several large corporations to develop solutions targeting facilities management, utilities, supply chain and logistics, and healthcare services and use data to improve the lives of its citizens.”