business development Earth Entrepreneurship International Japan smallsats Space Space Applications Startups Tsukuba Uncategorized

What makes Warpspace successful?

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source: Warpspace


Warpspace was founded by CEO Toshihiro Kameda in June 2016 who is also an associate professor at the University of Tsukuba.  CEO Kameda worked with his students to develop satellites for Project Yui which then became a spinoff company.

Warpspace offers satellite modules and ground system instruments.

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source: University of Tsukuba


What makes Warpspace?  Here’s my take:

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1. Play with space

As the foundations of Warpspace started at University with the new space concept of ‘Play with Space’ by supporting individual satellite development, launching system and operation, one could say that it all started with humble beginnings.  One of the important aspects of this concept is to utilise commercially available parts, and to develop projects simply for example utilising simple structures for terrestrial antenna and so amateur radio enthusiasts and presumably students could learn, and iterate as part of the learning process.  CEO Kameda focuses on the importance of ‘playfulness’ as part of their technological development and discovery.


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2. Value

Warpspace seems to have already proven their status and success through two events, primarily developing palm-sized satellites weighing only one kilometre and launching it and putting it into orbit within the 1 to 10 million yen.  As most of us in NewSpace appreciate, launch cost is probably one of the great barriers and so the process of hacking the problem as it were, could mean success for all NewSpace actors in the future by definition in the long term.

3.  Education


Warpspace offers a good model to go from University, education to doing a startup.  This could lie the potential answer to Prime Minister Abe’s aim of doubling the space sector in the next 5 years.  If space education, was included in the education system or be it through such ‘Playfulness’ in space sciences, then this exposure to the possibilities of engaging in space at a young age could be a great motivator for young people to enter the NewSpace sector.

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Written by Helen Tung

Emergent Tech Advisor/ MINERVA fellow- Space Applications & GNSS, EU – Japan Centre

Creative Convenor, EU-Japan NewSpace2060 Illustrated Haiku Competition 2019


#Warpspace  #NewSpace2060 @EUJapanCentre




Disaster Management Japan Space Space Applications Tsukuba

ICHARM International Centre for Water Hazard

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The International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM) is under the auspices of UNESCO.  Led by Prof. Toshio Koike, ICHARM conducts research and teaches courses on a broad field related to water disaster management.   Thinking beyond floods, mudflows or landslides, ICHARM also focuses on water related disasters, also also natural events like tsunamis that could have devasting effects on the livelihoods of people affected by such events.

Due to Japan’s geographical location and experience with natural disasters, Japan seems to be in one of the best positions to lead the issues of disaster management and also sharing such knowledge to the regions and the world at large.

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source: spacetechasia


Work of ICHARM

One of the striking features of ICHARM is there appears to be much emphasis on project implementations that are tailored to local communities and local needs.  Having previously worked with local communities in Kuching, I appreciate how time consuming and challenging it could be at times.  Much good will needs to be developed to engage in whole sale changes and adaptions, particularly if there is new introduction of methodology or technologies as well.

Some recent examples include field surveys of the July 2018 torrential rain disaster in western Japan, and in September 5, 2018, ICHARM has supported the International Flood Initiative (IFI) and established the ‘Platform on Water Resilience and Disasters in Myanmar.’

Other research include developing information sharing system to deliver river water-level forecasts for small and mid-sized rivers as a PRISM Program project.  This program was also launched in 2018 by the Cabinet Office of Japan and aims to develop a system that can perform trend analysis using river water- level data or crisis management by observatories and deliver water level forecasts for small and medium size rivers managed by local governments.  The aim is to connect and inform these local governments in good timing.


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ICHARM, alongside the organisation GRIPS offers an education program for Masters and PhD students on Disaster Management.  In September 2018, fourteen students earned Masters degree and two doctoral students were given degrees in Disaster Management.  In October 2018, they had eight new masters students and three more PhD students.


International Reach

ICHARM is very proactive in its international reach.   Examples include:

UNESCO Pakistan Project: International training on river discharge and sediment assessment in Indonesia;

Symposium of UNESCO Chair on Water, Energy and Disaster Management for Sustainable Developmetn (WENDI) at Kyoto University;

Stockholm World Water Week.


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source: Prof. Koike at Kyoto symposium ICHARM


One of the interesting aspects of ICHARM is that they are a focused and highly engaging organisation.  When I looked at the kind of projects they have been working on and the many countries which they have placed posters up on, I realised their work is probably less well known locally than internationally.  Under Prof. Koike’s leadership I think that the local and international students would benefit greatly from the theoretical and practical application of resolving disaster management issues within their own countries.

One of the questions I was interested in posing was whether these students would be interested to develop their ideas and also interested in entrepreneurship.

In many ways such a question is a large jump, and I sensed that ICHARM is very serious in their resolving of live natural disaster issues in the world.  The question of whether such students or scientists would choose to develop and take their knowledge of their research or technology to the next level of commercialising is a matter for another day.


If you would like more information on ICHARM’s work, check out their website:


Written by Helen Tung

Emergent Tech Advisor/MINERVA Fellow

EU- Japan Centre, Tokyo


#NewSpace2060 @EUJapan Centre









Japan Space Space Applications

Visiting Tsukuba

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source: wikipedia


I took the early morning train, then bus and made my way to JAXA Tsukuba.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect- the bus was rather empty but I was pretty sure people on the bus were either heading for the University or for Tsukuba.

Before I went I had a few people say to me, there is not much to see, and it mainly has research centres.  A quick research on Tsukuba led me to understand that indeed there are many research centres in fact there is a whole Tsukuba Science network.   There is a healthy network of about 87 organisations ranging from the Japan Autonomobile Research Institute to Science Technology Promotional Centre of Ibaraki.

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My bus journey was faster than I thought and in a good hour and a half I ended right at the entrance of JAXA Tsukuba.  Like a good visitor, I went straight to the information section and was going to start a tour.  There were a few waiting areas, I could distinctly see a few videos of past astronauts up at the International Space Station.  I could not stop smiling when I saw one of Astronaut Dr. Wakata swimming and doing breast strokes and butterfly. v1


Of course, for the most part, Mangaka Chuya Koyama‘s work was also positively displayed in all the rooms and visitor areas- from guides of what to do, to photoboards where one could take pictures.  Space Brothers has according to many people that I have spoken to one of the most influential characters for current, present and past whom are interested in space.  I didn’t quite approach the role of art like Manga, until I started talking to people at the NewSpace sector in Japan.  Alot, if not most of the Founders and entrepreneurs in NewSpace in Japan are actually influenced by him.  I have tried to contact him and invite him to be a Judge for the EU- Japan NewSpace2060 Illustrated Haiku competition so let’s see what the feedback is.

I jumped on a bus and one could see that school kids, adults and bus tours were already lining up for tours.  We were shown an inspiring short video on the work of JAXA and then was taken for a short bus ride to go to the Control Room and learn of some aspects of the life of the astronaut.

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The most fascinating aspect for me was space food and how we seem to strive for home comforts: ramen, curry, rice and azuku beans – in liquid and paste form.

Then there was the dome, presenting a more scientific approach, like any good exhibition, there were detailed explanations, videos and also plenty of photo opportunities.

I had a meeting and discussed space applications and it appears that JAXA’s 3 main area of interests include:

Climate Change Observation

Disaster Risks Management and

National Security

It appears that Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management are two major topics which clearly affect humanity and society and also which can be proven scientifically.   It appears that Japan has been rather actively and rather successful in their deployment and research over the last year and obviously has long term vision for such continued projects in the next few years.

In was particularly interested in the discussions on Disaster Management and Climate Change because observing imagery from above provides us with far more perspective than from the ground.

The question of how could we best utilise such information and data imagery for the benefit of businesses be it in farming, agriculture or experiementing in unmanned systems like in aviation or cars is also part of journey of drawing the link between space and earth and to overcome the potential challenges in that communication.

Interestingly, JAXA does not actually deal with QZSS and rather it is the Cabinet that manages it.  Regardless of that, the EU and Japan has similar aspirations in terms of engaging populations, businesses and entrepreneurs to utilise space applications on earth.

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I was presented with a very useful handbook on areas in which space applications could be used for and they include:

  • Forest mapping
  • Foret Early Warning System in the Tropics
  • 3D World
  • High Resolution Land- Use and Land cover maps
  • Ground Data set for  Land – Cover maps
  • SAR Interferometry
  • Time -Series Interferometric SAR
  • Time- Series Interferometric SAR Automatic Analysis Tool
  • INAHOR Software for Estimating Rice Planted Areas
  • Agrometeorological Monitoring System
  • Environmental Information Provision system for Public Health
  • Global Satellite Mapping of Precipitation
  • 3D Precipitation Data
  • ‘Shizuku’ Water Cycle Variables
  • JASMES: Climate and Geographical Variable Data set
  • MODIS near Real – Time Data
  • P-Tree System: JAXA Himawari Monitor
  • Long- Term Sea Ice Climatological Dataset and
  • Joint Simulator for Satellite sensors

When you look through that list, actually the breadth of how earth observation technologies can be used is immense.  I get the sense that those that work in this field, obviously know of the technologies available, the issue is of those that don’t and how they could best utilise such resources.

I think this is a question that the EU faces as well, in relation to the utilisation of Gallileo. v1


I was not quite anticipating spending a whole day, but I did and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Despite Tsukuba being not that far away from Tokyo, it certainly has that country feel about it.  It does feel very quite and probably has its pros in terms of having the time and space to conduct research peacefully.

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In following blog, I will write about the International Centre for Water Hazard (iCHARM).



#NewSpace2060 @EUJapanCentre