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Japan's 10 best start-ups to work for, according to LinkedIn


Artificial intelligence, automation and machine learning are just a few of the new technologies Japan's top start-ups are embracing to attract employees and stay ahead of the curve.

AI software business ExaWizards is leading that charge, according to a new report from LinkedIn, which names it as Japan's top start-up to work for in 2019.

The three-year-old company is followed in the ranks by other homegrown successes including cryptocurrency trading platform bitFlyer and news aggregation platform SmartNews.

To be considered for this year's list, companies had to be privately-held, be seven years or younger, and have 50 or more employees. They were ranked based on LinkedIn user feedback across four pillars: Employment growth; engagement with employees; job interest; and ability to attract top talent from leading employers.

CNBC Make It takes a look at the list of 10 most attractive start-ups in Japan right now.

10. Shizen Energy Group

Global headcount: 205

Headquarters: Fukuoka

Utilities start-up Shizen Energy Group was launched in Fukuoka in 2011 and now has additional offices in Tokyo and Kobe to house some 205 staff. The business strongly promotes diversity across all levels, with employees hailing from a total of 28 different countries and ranging in age from their 20s to their 70s.

Shizen Energy Group team photo
Shizen Energy Group, LinkedIn

9. Quoine

Global headcount: 280

Headquarters: Tokyo

Five-year-old fintech start-up Quione is a cryptocurrency trading platform. Headquartered in Tokyo and with offices in Singapore and Vietnam, the company is now aiming to secure a banking license to provide other financial services to the underbanked around the Asia Pacific region.

8. Cogent Labs

Global headcount: 70

Headquarters: Tokyo

Artificial intelligence business Cogent Labs was founded in 2014 to research and develop new tech solutions for businesses. Its international team includes staff from 19 countries with expertise covering machine learning and deep tech.

7. Origami

Global headcount: 180

Headquarters: Tokyo

Tokyo-headquartered internet company Origami provides mobile payment solutions for retailers. Dubbed Origami Pay, the service's clients include KFC, Japan Taxi and retailer Loft. Since launching in 2012, Origami has raised over $88 million from investors including Softbank.

6. LeapMind

Global headcount: 85

Headquarters: Tokyo

Deep learning business LeapMind develops technology for the so-called Internet of Things and robotics products. The business has grown gradually since launching in 2012. It now employs 85 staff and provides several incentives, including a commuting allowance and higher education support.

5. Mujin

Global headcount: 90

Headquarters: Tokyo

Mujin develops robots to help automate the manufacturing and logistics industries. Founded in 2012, the start-up's 90-strong, Tokyo-based team features leading engineers from Stanford, Microsoft, Google and Honda.

4. SmartNews

Global headcount: 200

Headquarters: Tokyo

Award-winning news app SmartNews uses machine learning to provide specially curated news content. Launched in 2012, the business today has 10 million monthly active users and analyzes 10 million articles per day. Its offices span Tokyo, San Francisco and New York.

3. Abeja

Global headcount: 72

Headquarters: Tokyo

Software company Abeja develops products and services related to the Internet of Things, Big Data and artificial intelligence. The seven-year-old business has a string of high-profile backers including Google and and is currently hiring to grow the business. It says it is equally looking for staff from "liberal arts" and tech backgrounds.

2. BitFlyer

Global headcount: 150

Headquarters: Tokyo

Financial services firm BitFlyer is a cryptocurrency exchange platform and marketplace. Launched in 2014 in an effort to simplify the buying, selling and spending of Bitcoin, the company has since acquired licenses to conduct virtual currency exchange in Japan, the U.S. and the European Union.

1. ExaWizards

Global headcount: 130

Headquarters: Tokyo

Ranking in first place this year is a computer software business ExaWizards. The start-up was founded in 2016 to develop artificial intelligence-led solutions to some of Japan's greatest social issues, from aging demographics to population decline. To do that, ExaWizards employs a diverse team of staff with expertise across care work, law and engineering.

Don't miss: These are the best companies to work for in Japan in 2019, according to LinkedIn

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