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Nicolas Tsurukawa - Participant 2017

I feel that I moved from the category of ‘high potential’ professional to that of ‘high added-value’ professional.


Nicolas’s project for Urban Crop Solutions (UCS) consisted of establishing a presencenin Japan for the company, identify local agents, and sell up vertical farms and/or a large scale plant factory.


Getting to know the Japanese market was one of Nicolas’s first challenges. Japan can be a challenging place to do business, where results can only be achieved and measured in the long term. “I learned how long it takes to negotiate with Japanese companies.” That is why Nicolas proposed to start by establishing non commercial objectives, such as identifying trade shows, establishing legal entities for a Representation Office, creating marketing material, identifying key partners, etc.

Once this was done, he could start to contact potential buyers. He also set up collaborations with two local distributors that will represent UCS in Japan, as this seems to be the most efficient way of working in Japan in this sector.

How he benefited

After his Prince Albert Fund year, Nicolas became an expert on the dimensioning of plant factories. He now understands the pros and cons of various technical options (indoor environment control, biological aspects…) and can estimate operational costs that take into account local parameters. He speaks standard Japanese, including business Japanese much more fluently and also became an expert in the very complex etiquette and business customs, which take several years to master. Nicolas will continue his mission in Japan for Urban Crop Solutions hoping to finalize the deals he initiated.

The company – Urban Crop Solutions

Founded in Beveren-Leie (Belgium) in 2014, Urban Crop Solutions is a global turnkey solution provider in automated plant growth infrastructure and plant growth recipes. It also supplies seeds, substrates and nutrients. Currently the company has a growing list of more than 200 varieties of crops that can be grown in closed environment vertical farms. After opening Europe’s largest automated plant factory, Urban Crop Solutions launched activities in Miami in 2016 and opened a division in Japan in 2017.

“Beyond the scope of his assignment, Nicolas contributed to a critical mindset and established connections with a good level of knowledge in different fields (biology, engineering, and sales). This is rather unusual in our company, where each category of tasks is individually organized and distributed among specialists of each field.”

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