Under cloud of COVID-19, JMEC 26 contestants researched, prepared and presented innovative plans.




Under cloud of COVID-19, JMEC 26 contestants researched, prepared and presented innovative plans

TOKYO, June 10, 2020 The Japan Market Expansion Competition (JMEC), a non-profit business planning skills-development training program supported by 18 foreign chambers of commerce in Japan, announced the winners for the annual JMEC business plan competition on June 3, 2020. This marked the completion of JMEC 26, reflecting the 26th year the program has been conducted. Thirteen teams comprising up to five members each, researched, analyzed and presented customized business plans for Japanese market expansion for their project client companies. 

The sixty-one JMEC 26 program contestants, representing 17 different nationalities, were all mid-career business professionals working in Japan. JMEC 26 began in August 2019 with information sessions for companies sponsoring projects and prospective contestants. From November 2019 to January 2020 participants attended a series of lectures on business, accounting, market research, marketing, and presentation skills that were conducted on weekends by leading business personalities from the international business community in Japan. In mid January 2020 the contestants were placed into the thirteen teams and were given their research projects. 

Many teams were lucky to be able to travel to research their projects, interview potential collaborators and market experts, and research distribution channels before the COVID-19 state of emergency was declared. Each team produced a lengthy written business plan as well as a summary presentation targeted at both the project clients and the judging panel. 

After months of research, analysing economic and sector data and endless video conferencing, the teams virtually presented their business plans to the panel of four judges on May 23 and 24, 2020.

JMEC Executive Committee Chairman Tom Whitson said: “JMEC 26 was conducted under the challenging conditions of a national state of emergency due to COVID-19 that severely curtailed much of the research and interaction that preparing a business plan entails. I want to congratulate all the participants for their dedication to this project that resulted in a series of excellent business plans. You have all well and truly earned your certificates as graduates of our JMEC business training program. On behalf of the JMEC team, I want to thank the twelve companies that submitted projects to the program as well as the lecturers, judges, team mentors and consultants who gave up days of their time to make this program a success.”

In a very closely contested competition, the judges awarded first prize to JMEC Team Twelve with their business plan for cutting-edge Spanish biotechnology company AlgaEnergy, creating product solutions derived from microalgae for a range of industries such as agriculture, nutrition, cosmetics and aquaculture. Team Poseidon's project was focused on the roll-out of cosmetic brand MareVitae®

JMEC Team Thirteen won second prize with a business plan for 'Sun Tamaniwa Farm', an indoor vertical farming project by Hamish Ross, a Tokyo-based entrepreneur and investor. 

The third prize winner was JMEC Team Three with a second project for AlgaEnergy, the Spanish biotechnology company. Their project focused on microalgae-based solutions for the food and beverage industry, specifically microalgae enriched food condiments. 

Additional Special Mention awards were given for outstanding effort. These were: Best Presentation Award for JMEC Team Six who gave an impressive oral presentation to the JMEC judges for Global Dreamers Lab, a visionary museum facility project in Tokyo by Carl Williams, a US Air Force veteran with deep ties to Japan, where people from all backgrounds can find and nourish their dreams through interactive and extraordinary educational experiences. 

The Best Market Research Award went to JMEC Team Two for their extensive and outstanding market research efforts for their client Herniamesh, an Italian maker of medical devices, including surgical mesh solutions, sold through their worldwide distribution network. 

The third special mention for Best Executive Summary was given to JMEC Team Eight for their work on a potential market entry project for Ardex, a global company headquartered in Germany and a leading solution and service provider of innovative tile and flooring systems. 

JMEC Judge, Rike Wootten, commented, “The quality of this year's plans was exceptional—very little separated the winning teams. When we read the final plans and saw the presentations, we were impressed with the detail and insights the teams came up with under such difficult circumstances."


JMEC prizes

The first prize winners won Finnair flight tickets to Europe and one-year memberships to the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ); the second prize winners won Hewlett Packard notebook computers and one-year memberships to the ACCJ; and the third prize winners received stylish German brand BREE travel bags and free tickets to one of the ACCJ’s events. 

About JMEC

Founded in 1993 by the Australia and New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan, JMEC is a non-profit business planning skills-development training program supported by 18 foreign chambers of commerce in Japan. Over the past 26 years, JMEC has trained more than 1,300 mid-career business professionals, many of whom have advanced to senior positions in their companies or started their own businesses. Built around a business plan competition, JMEC provides classroom, and this year also online, training followed by hands-on experience for up-and-coming managers living and working in Japan. To date, JMEC has provided 265 high-quality business plans to help companies enter or expand their business in the Japanese market. JMEC is internationally accredited by Pearson PLC—the world’s largest learning company—as a Pearson Assured certified organization. Pearson Assured is an independent certification and international quality benchmark for organizations that design and deliver their own learning programs.


The JMEC 27 program starts in August 2020 with information sessions for potential participants, attended by JMEC staff and alumni. Program lectures commence on November 14, 2020. Please visit for further information 

Media Enquiries: 

Simon Farrell, Custom Media, 03-4540-7730,

General Enquiries: 

Trond Varlid, JMEC Program Director, 080-4368-2025,

 Team 12: 1st Prize Winners

 Project Client: AlgaEnergy - MareVitae® Cosmetics

 Jonathan Ho, Yasuko Yoshino, Hiroshi Koyama, Hailan Huang, Takenori Nishimura


Team 13: 2nd Prize Winners

 Project Client: Sun Tamaniwa Farm (Mr. Hamish Ross)

 Miyuki Sasaki, Gabriela Mandrea (team consultant), Ngo Van Nguyen, Jay Johannesen (Team Mentor), James Greer, Toshifumi Suzuki, (bottom, center) Bogna Baliszewska


Team 3: 3rd Prize Winners

 Project Client: AlgaEnergy - Macami Food Condiments

 Geoffrey Kayiira, Nonoka Tajiri, Shunsuke Akiyama, Noriko Kubodera, Javier Lopez Gimenez