A partnership with Nabtesco can be a gateway to challenging markets


Michal Natora

Michal Natora, Sector Specialist, Industrial IT  |  Emerald Technology Ventures


Having visited Nabtesco, what kind of start-up are you most interested in pursuing for the Nabtesco Technology Ventures partnership?

There are a few areas where we can see a good overlap, where technology can enhance Nabtesco’s products. One is vision – new sensors or new vision systems that could be integrated into Nabtesco products. Another is technology used in the manufacturing process, such as visual quality inspection, or new forms of automation in product manufacturing and testing. Also, there is technology that makes workers more efficient, for example by providing work instructions.


For start-ups, what is the appeal of an investment from Nabtesco?

I think a big advantage that Nabtesco has is that it’s very strong in Japan. We heard that Nabtesco has 70 percent or more market share in some industries. I think that’s very interesting for start-ups from the United States or Europe because it’s normally very difficult for them to get into the Japanese market. I think a partner such as Nabtesco would add a lot of value to them. And the second thing is that Nabtesco operates in very challenging industries, such as rail and aerospace, where it takes a very long time to break in, for example because of very strict certification requirements. So again, this is a great opportunity for start-ups to work with Nabtesco, which already has a strong track record in these industries.


What did you learn about Nabtesco on your visit? 

I learned that there is a lot of overlap between the kinds of technologies we see from start-ups and the kinds of technologies Nabtesco is interested in. So I think there is good potential for next steps in working together.

One potential route for Nabtesco is to develop new products that are close to its current market specialties. I imagine, for example, that Nabtesco could use its strong expertise in robotics to go into exoskeletons. And the other route is technology that makes Nabtesco’s manufacturing process run more efficiently, for example, deploying technology for data mining of documents, or finding information for workers much more quickly.

These are exciting opportunities, and I think Nabtesco has a very collaborative environment. I think also there are a lot of similarities between Switzerland and Japan in terms of culture – like that fact that everything is well organized and runs on time. So I think these are good grounds for working together well.