UTEC Founders Program

An initiative driven by UTEC’s swift investment decision-making to turbocharge scaling-up of seed-stage deep-tech startups.



UFP is an initiative driven by UTEC’s swift investment decision-making to turbocharge scaling-up of seed-stage startups using science & technology to solve global issues of humankind.

At UTEC, we have been offering comprehensive support to teams in various stages of launching their deep-tech startups, ranging from idea-stage to newly incorporated companies.
In addition to investing $100K-$1Million in seed-stage startups, we have also established Entrepreneur-in-Residence program to support innovators preparing to start their own companies, and Grants for researchers in basic science.

About UTEC

The University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners is an independent VC fund associated with academic institutes such as The University of Tokyo, that invests in deep-tech startups that solve global issues of humankind using science & technology. We started in 2004, and have so far invested in over 110 startups with a track record of 13 IPOs & 12 M&As. We have a portfolio of over 80 Japanese startups and 30 global startups in USA, India, Southeast Asia, and Europe.

We recently launched our fifth fund – UTEC 5 Limited Partnership.
UTEC 5 is expected to exceed $275 million (30 billion yen) in total by June 2021. The aggregated amount of Assets Under Management (AUM) from UTEC 1 to UTEC 5 amounts to approximately $780 million (85 billion yen), making us the largest venture capital fund in Japan in science and technology fields, and one of the largest deep-tech funds in Asia.


What is UFP?

UTEC Founders Program(UFP) is structured in a way that enables our team to evaluate applications and execute investments in a swift-manner, while offering ad-hoc support to the portfolio in the form of strategic advice, study sessions, recruitment support, introductions to corporates for business development and demo day. The program offers two tracks:

Life Sciences & Healthcare

  • 1. Drug discovery platforms focused on cancer, immunology, neurology and rare diseases
  • 2. Companies aimed at diagnosis, treatment and/or prevention of diseases, or improving productivity of medical environments using IT and AI
  • 3. Life sciences companies aimed at solving issues in the sectors of agriculture and food

Information Technology (IT)

  • 1. Leveraging IT/AI to transform legacy industries or create new industries
  • 2. Companies developing domain-specific marketplaces
  • 3. Startups solving social issues by intelligent automation of physical and digital assets
  • 4. Companies creating secure distributed systems for a wide range of applications through responsible development and implementation of blockchain

Physical Sciences & Engineering

  • 1. Businesses offering innovative solutions for frontiers such as space and deep sea, as well as tackling global issues such as decarbonization and ageing society.
  • 2. Startups leveraging engineering/manufacturing expertise backed by domain experience
  • 3. Challenging projects by scientists who have published seminal papers on engineering in top journals

Equity Track

Target (requirements)

  • ・ Science & Technology startups that have been incorporated, and are in Seed/Pre-Series A stage.
  • ・ Co-founders/teams with industry/research experience in the Science & Technology fields relevant to the startup
  • ・ Startups that have tangible Japan synergies and scope for potential collaboration with Japanese academia & industries

Investment Process

  • ・ Notification within 2 weeks of the application on whether the application has been accepted through to the interview stage. Thereafter, an interview will be held with a UTEC investment team member specialized in the field relevant to the startup.
  • ・ In principle, the entire Due Diligence and Investment Committee procedures will be completed within 4 weeks of the first interview
  • ・ Execution of investment in a week or two after the investment committee (best-case scenario)

Investment Conditions

  • ・ Investment of up to $1 million in the Pre-Seed, Seed or Pre-Series A financing rounds of recently formed startups. Investments of over $1 million are out of the scope of UFP Equity Track. Please reach out to us separately.
  • ・ We are flexible to structure the investments in an entrepreneur/co-investor-friendly manner such as SAFE notes, KISS/J-KISS, convertible notes/bonds or common stock.
  • ・ We will not be assigning a Board Director by default, but we may ask for Observer rights or request a periodic update on the start-up post investment.

Grant Track

Investment Conditions

  • ・ In principle, UFP can provide grants of around $50K (up to $100K on rare occasions) based on the commercialization plan of researchers/teams
  • ・ This is not a debt or equity instrument, and hence there is no obligation to repay


  • 1. Startups/Teams/Researchers whose technologies/products fall within the purview of aforementioned target sectors of UFP
  • 2. Pre-incorporation: Teams or individuals with a demonstrated commitment to entrepreneurship
  • 3. Post-incorporation: Startups that have not yet raised an external round of funding from VCs or corporations
  • 4. Applicants are welcome to apply to both grant and equity tracks at the same time (if the necessary conditions are satisfied)

Grant Process

Details will be announced on the website soon

UTEC Founders Program (UFP) Grant Track 1st round Awardees



UFP Team

(Left-to-Right) Yuki Hayashi, Hiroaki Kobayashi, John Suzuki and Kiran Mysore