The Tokyo Senior Business Grand Prix is a business plan contest for seniors over the age of 55 years old, who are starting a business in Tokyo or plan to so in the next 5 years. The Grand Prix is an initiative by the Tokyo metropolitan government and the Tokyo metropolitan SME Promotion Corporation that aims to promote entrepreneurship as an option for after retirement.
The competition was introduced in 2019 as part of the Tokyo of the Future Strategy. The aim of the competition is to promote the entrepreneurial spirit among seniors. This strategy is, in part, a response to the shift in working styles and life planning among older adults. As life expectancy increases, entrepreneurship and self-employment provide an avenue for seniors to continue to engage with the community, harness years of professional experience to create innovative business ideas and continue to earn income after retirement.
The competition is open to an array of business ventures. This includes growth-oriented enterprises, start-ups that will serve the community and local residents, and social enterprises. There are no restrictions based on business content or industry. Participants must provide a description of their management and business model, which highlights the feasibility and profitability of the business. They must also demonstrate market understanding. After a screening and interview process, an entrepreneurship support fund of JPY 1 million (EUR 7 300) is made available to the 10 finalists. An additional JPY 1 million (EUR 7 300) in prize money is divided among three winners: Best Prize for the competition (JPY 500 000/EUR 3 700), Excellence Prize (JPY 250 000/EUR 1 800) and Encouragement Prize (JPY 250 000/EUR 1 800).
In addition to the competition, the programme hosts seminars to generate entrepreneurial ideas among seniors who may be interested in participating in the upcoming competition. Prior to the second competition, three seminars were scheduled: 1) Thinking about senior entrepreneurship as a career, 2) Increasing the number of independent and entrepreneurial consultations in their 50s and 3) 60-year old start line, from side job to double job. These seminars were held by entrepreneurs and professional consultants. Other communication around the prize includes case studies on each of the ten finalists selected for the prize and their proposed businesses.
In August 2019, a kick-off event for the Tokyo Senior Business Grand Prix introduced the competition. Four additional seminars were held between September and November 2019. The competition received 189 entries in its first year and125 entries for its second year in 2021. The winner of the Best Prize for the competition was Chizuko Fukatsu for her business plan – Attire & Lab Business to Deliver Tokimeki to Elderly Mothers. The apparel brand aims to design clothes that are comfortable and fashionable for women in their 80s and 90s. Hideshi Kodera received the Excellence Prize for his business plan for a Community-based call centre for rental tenants. Minoru Ono received the Encouragement Prize for his proposal of a new book management system.
- 55+ StartUps (2021), 55+ StartUps: Tokyo Senior Business Grand Prix, https://www.tokyo-kosha.or.jp/kosha/rmepal000000ln16-att/20210729_01.pdf (Accessed on 15 April 2022).
- Tokyo Metropolitan Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion Corporation (2022), 2nd Tokyo Senior Business Grand Prix Finalists, https://www.tokyo-kosha.or.jp/station/grandprix/index.html (Accessed on 15 April 2022).
- Tokyo Metropolitan Government (2021), 始まる、55歳からの起業 第2回 東京シニアビジネスグランプリ・ファイナル開催！ 10名のシニア起業家がビジネスプランを発表。最優秀賞が決定します！, https://www.metro.tokyo.lg.jp/tosei/hodohappyo/press/2021/12/22/08.html (accessed on 27 April 2022).
- Tokyo Senior Business Grand Prix (2020), 1st Tokyo Senior Business Grand Prix: Results announcement, https://www.tokyo-kosha.or.jp/station/tsbg2019/results/ (accessed on 27 April 2022).