Haneda Innovation City Unveiled

Thrilling day: I witnessed the birth of Japan’s first smart airport city with the minister of Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transportation and Tourism, governor of Tokyo, mayor of Ota, and key stakeholders. Like me, you can ride a driverless bus, see robots cook & serve meals, enjoy the 3D printing of vegan sushis… Tour Haneda Innovation City (HICity), and check opportunities as a researcher, creator, entrepreneur, or worker wishing to shape Tokyo’s emerging innovation ecosystem.

HICity creates & tests solutions to social issues:

  • Smart tourism – Commercial strip decline…
  • Smart robotics – Manpower shortage, working population decline…
  • Smart mobility – Driver shortages, people with impaired mobility…
  • Smart healthcare – Pre-disease challenges, unhealthy long life…

Unexpected answers when I interviewed Haneda Future Development’s general manager for Japan Travel KK:

  • Top challenges: Building from scratch (rare in Japan), near an airport not a factory (no local infrastructures), attracting people.
  • Vision: Integrating robots and advanced medicine into everyday life. Fusing art and advanced technologies for a mysterious thought-provoking atmosphere.
  • Foreigners: Focus so far on the “hard” e.g. buildings; people “soft” aspects coming next. Symbiosis with Ota Ward will be critical to create potential e.g. entrepreneur visas like in Shibuya Ward.

To easily/quickly improve HiCity’s reputation and attract talent, I recommended to:

  • Foster gender parity (two main ceremony photos: 1 female + 14 male esteemed guests), maybe organizing events with Mariko McTier co-founder of Social Innovation Japan.
  • Include vegan options.
  • Modify the electricity contract to power the driverless buses with renewable energy.


  • My first time taking photos between bodyguards and sign-language interpreters 🙂
  • One train station from Haneda Airport, 5th busiest airport worldwide pre-pandemic by passenger traffic. 13 types of guest rooms and 3-layer soundproof windows meters away from planes at Hotel Metropolitan Tokyo Haneda. Large public bath at Keikyu EX Inn Haneda Innovation City.
  • Fujita Medical Innovation Center Tokyo was impressive: advanced rehabilitation, fertility treatment, cancer genomic medicine, regenerative medicine…
  • I’ll check next time: real-time visualization of human/robot/mobility flows based on image-analysis AI, hydrogen charging station for cars/buses, Zepp Haneda (concerts, e-sports…), and Congrès Square Haneda convention hall.
  • Autonomy is crucial to grow an innovative & responsive environment. Building from scratch enables project leaders to make decisions and create their own narrative without constraints due to established communities or influential shinise (centuries-old respected businesses). Following the events should thus be fascinating, especially for me as a former #SmartCity researcher…

Thanks to Kyodo News Digital for inviting me!