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Innovating Cities

Smart cities for the 21st century

9th Topos Conference


In June 2015, Google introduced Sidewalk Labs, an incubator which focuses on solving urban problems through technology. Sidewalk Labs further invested in Intersection, a company which seeks to create bonds between citizens and the cities they live in around the world.

As Larry Page says, “By improving cities, we can improve the lives of billions of people.” Under the leadership of former New York City mayor Daniel Doctoroff, these teams have taken on the task of spreading Link NYC, a project which turns old pay phones into free charging and WiFi stations.

American citizen activist Jane Jacobs once declared that it is not nations that lead economic development, but cities. Cities have the diversity to create demand, develop new products and services, and generate employment. This ability of cities to create (i.e., the Jacobs Effect) is best realized through bottom-up efforts by citizens and communities, rather than top-down from the government.

Companies like Sidewalk Labs are trying to leverage diverse knowledge and social capital to spur innovation in cities from the bottom up. In other words, they are aimed at citizen-centric urban innovation powered by citizen participation.

Urban innovation is still a large problem in Japan. Many academic institutions and professional service companies have published urban innovation rankings, but Japan has yet to crack the top 10 in most of them. On the bright side, however, Japan has much room for improvement.

As the hubbub surrounding the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics has made painfully clear, Japan’s major cities are in need of a redesign. Until now, however, Japan’s citizens have left city design to the powers that be. Google’s new projects should teach us that companies and citizens need to work together to create cities, and governments should act to support this new cooperative relationship.

At the 9th Topos Conference, we welcome a researcher in urban sociology, Professor Saskia Sassen of Columbia University; the creator of the concept of “edge cities”, Professor Joel Garreau of Arizona State University; one of the proponents of living labs, Bror Salmelin of the European Commission; President Hirofumi Nomoto of Tokyu Corporation; Vice President Takeshi Nakawake of Nikken Sekkei; and President Masao Hosoo of Kyoto’s well established Hosoo Corporation, to join us as we discuss the future of urban innovation in Japan.

Event Information

Date &


Wednesday, November, 18, 2015, 13:20 to 20:30 (doors open 12:20)

Roppongi Hills Mori Tower 49F, Academy Hills Tower Hall

Address: 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo [Map] Phone:03-6406-6649


World Wise Web Initiative

Sponsors: TKC Group Limited

Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance Company

Kozo Keikaku Engineering Inc.

Co-sponsors: National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS)

Fujitsu Research Institute, Ltd. (FRI)

Admission JPY20,000 (tax incl.)

Japanese, English (simultaneous interpretation)


The 9th Topos Conference has ended. Our thanks to all the attendees and participants.


※Subject to change

13:20-13:30 Prologue
13:30-15:00 Dialogue session 1
15:00-16:20 Dialogue session 2
16:20-16:35 Intermission
16:35-18:00 Dialogue session 3


Ikujiro Nonaka

18:30-20:30 Networking Session


※Speakers subject to change, listed alphabetically

Joel Garreau

Lincoln Professor of Law, Culture and Values, Arizona State University

Former reporter and editor, Washington Post

Masao Hosoo


Hosoo Corporation

Takeshi Nakawake

Executive VP and member of the board

Nikken Sekkei

Hirofumi Nomoto
野本 弘文氏-w3i-nomoto


Tokyu Corporation

Bror Salmelin

Adviser for Innovation Systems

DG CONNECT, European Commission

Saskia Sassen

Robert S. Lynd Professor  of Sociology

Department of Sociology, Columbia University

Norihiko Fukuda

(Video Message)


Mayor of Kawasaki

David Harvey

(Video Message)


Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography

Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY)


Mirano Haneda


Noboru Konno

Professor, Tama Graduate School of Business;  

w3i founder
Ikujiro Nonaka
野中 郁次郎

Professor emeritus, Hitotsubashi University;  

w3i founder

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Topos Conference Committee  
FRI Economic Research Center/Practical Knowledge Research Center 
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