Design Thinking, Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The following is the summary of a breakout session that was part of the 2016 Annual Conference.



  • Moderator: Tom Kelley, Partner, IDEO
  • Ari Horie, CEO/Founder, Women’s Startup Lab
  • Hiro Saijou, CEO & Managing Director, Yamaha Motor Ventures & Laboratory Silicon Valley
  • Mariko Yoshihara Yang, Co-Founder & Chief Education Officer, SKY Labo; Visiting Scholar, Japan Program Fellow, Stanford University


Tom Kelley began the panel explaining that while many consider Japan to be one of the most creative countries, Japanese people think otherwise because they lack “creative confidence.” The session continued with Mariko Yoshihara Yang explaining her work at SKY Labo, which provides young Japanese women the opportunity to build their confidence through a three-day bilingual workshop. SKY Labo is developing women leaders and by extension, helping decrease the gender gap in Japan. Ari Horie also spoke of fostering women leaders through her company, Women’s Startup Lab. Besides focusing on the proposals startup companies present, she also helps the leaders grow and become more innovative thinkers. Hiro Saijou provided another perspective. With Yamaha Motor Ventures, he said, he refuses to settle and always tries something new, even if it may seem impractical.