Late 2019, the Japanese External Trade Organisation (JETRO) approached me with the opportunity to visit the Ibaraki prefecture in Japan to explore collaboration with local companies. Little did I know that the particular city in question, Tsukuba, is one of the hotbeds in R&D in Japan. Successive meetings and calls with the excellent UK-based JETRO staff followed and a list of companies and institutes to meet was identified and approached. With great pleasure, two full days with back to back meetings could be filled, so I jumped on an airplane and set off to Japan.
Tsukuba is 1h by train north of Tokyo and with the trains running beautifully on time, I found myself welcomed by the local JETRO representative Taro who skilfully guided me from meeting to meeting and made sure there was plenty of time to enjoy the wonderful Japanese cuisine too. From multinationals to SME and academia, every meeting was unique and most insightful to understand the interest in electrospinning. All this was unfortunately overshadowed by the, then emerging, corona crisis. I never felt unsafe however as my hosts were extremely professional and caring to assure that guests and themselves were properly protected. And did I mention the Japanese politeness? Marvellous! All in all, I look back at a very productive time in Japan, meeting many interesting people. I will be back!
Marco Thio, Head of Business Development