161. The delegation of Japan appreciates the delegation of UK for introducing our concept paper. Taking this opportunity, we would like to share our experience and national policies regarding this agenda item. As stated in our concept paper, financing affects every stage of the innovation cycle, from commercialization of ideas to expanding and sustaining business. Start-ups and SMEs are facing a wide variety of business challenges, of which financing is one of the most important elements. For SMEs, which do not have a large number of tangible assets, financing that focuses on the value and potential of their IP is invaluable. However, in general, financial institutions are not usually very good at understanding the technological capabilities, meaning IP, which are the source of sales and business growth. If financial institutions understand the background of their clients' IP, they will be better informed to provide proper business support and management support to their clients.
162. In response to this situation, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) formed the IP finance promotion project. This project offers support to financial institutions by helping them focus on the potential of their clients' IP and enable them to provide business and management support. Specific examples of initiatives include writing and submitting two kinds of reports to financial institutions by affiliate research firms. The first reports are "IP business valuation reports", which evaluate the IP-based businesses of SMEs. The second reports are "IP business proposal reports," which include strategies on and solutions for management issues. In FY2019, the research firms made a total of 167 reports.
163. Also, under the program, IP experts are sent to financial institutions so that they can understand SMEs' businesses and create growth support scheme within financial institution based on an IP-based perspective. Furthermore, a web portal was created, and seminars are being conducted to raise public awareness and develop human resources in this field. Another initiative is the accelerated-examination system. This is also mentioned in the concept paper, as one of the initiatives that IP Offices can implement to enable SMEs to obtain financial support as soon as possible. The JPO offers accelerated examination under certain conditions, and start-ups and SMEs are also eligible for this system. In 2020, first action pendency from request for accelerated examination was 2.7 months on average, which is a significantly shorter amount of time compared to applications that do not undergo accelerated examination.
164. Furthermore, as a means to support start-up companies' applications during patent examination, the JPO implemented the following two programmes: "Accelerated Examination Using Interviews for start-ups" and "Super Accelerated Examination". These programmes are aimed at "working-related applications" of start-ups. The first programme includes interview examinations that are conducted prior to the first actions of examination results. The second program, super accelerated examination, provides first actions within one month from the request in principle. These two programmes meet the needs of start-ups in terms of their obtaining patent rights much sooner, as well as speeding up the process so start-ups can strategically obtain high-quality patents.
165. In summary, IP assets can contribute to financing. This is crucial to SMEs' business activities. Initiatives that support SMEs in acquiring more IP will ultimately help them financially. Japan would like to continue to support the activities of financial institutions and companies through implementing various initiatives and programmes. Japan also looks forward to sharing experiences with other Members.