Yukihiro Maru Ph.D. Leave a Nest Co., Ltd. President CEO
Tokyo University Ph.D. in Applied Science (plant & bacteria symbiosis)
Andrew Gung Ph.D. Leave a Nest Singapore Private Ltd. President
Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology Ph.D. in Applied Marine Biosciences (fish immunology)
Ryuta Takeda Ph.D. Leave a Nest America Inc.President
The Ohio State University Ph.D. in Molecular Biology (RNA biology)
Leave a Nest started 11 years ago with 15 graduate students determined to change the world with their background in Science and Technology. Today the company has grown in size close to 50 people, headquarter in Tokyo, 2 branches (Osaka and Okinawa) within Japan and 2 overseas offices in the United States of America and in Republic of Singapore. After 11 years of “incubation”, Leave a Nest is finally ready to provide platforms for various new innovations and start-ups to “leave the nests”.
Japan was facing 2 big problems in 2002. Science students graduating from graduate schools were having difficulties finding jobs. Moreover, young students were losing interests in Science. Faced with the issues mentioned above, young scientists who were still in graduate schools decided to make a difference. Embarking into the world of business, they communicate their love for Science to change people’s attitude towards Science knowledge from apathy to appreciation. Leave a Nest Japan’s founder gathered 2 of the regional heads to share the story about the origin of the company and also to discuss about the future.
Follow Your Instinct
Maru: Not only young people were losing interest in Science but the once leading country Japan known for innovations and technologies was losing her battle against the newcomers. As a young Scientist, I could not let this happen. I was ready to take a stand and undertake the challenge of creating one of a kind innovative incubation company. This was how Leave a Nest started 11 years ago. We didn’t have experience or expertise, but we had passion for Science and the love for our country. Our first business was to bring Science to the classroom, to teach the most advanced Science to primary, secondary and high school students. At that time I wasn’t sure if the company would even survive for over 10 years. Happy to say that I have great companions like you two: Andrew to help us expand our business in Singapore and Takeda in the US.
Andrew: Who would have thought I would join a venture company in Japan after completing my PhD degree. As a child I wanted to become a policeman or doctor. Well, I met Maru-san and now I’m running the Singapore branch. Life is full of surprise.
Takeda: Hear me out! My lifelong dream is or should I say was to receive Nobel Prize in Science, until I met guess who??? Maru-san.
Maru: My turn, can you guess what my dream was? I did not set any particular jobs as my goal. I just wanted to become a VERY IMPORTANT PERSON. You know the one who gives orders, like a King. This means I may be the only one who has achieved a childhood dream, right?
Andrew: Well, I have also achieved part of my dream. Now with Leave a Nest set-up in Singapore we can bridge relationships, between two countries, into wider scope. We have introduced in-house plant factory model to Singapore Science Centre and Anderson Secondary School. Knowledge-transfer is very important part of my job. Besides technology, we have imported research-based education to local secondary school. This year we collaborated with a local science education company to cater for a five day Science camp program customized for primary school students.
Maru: What about you Takeda, I think the situation is slightly different in your case. You are Japanese but you are currently the head of Leave a Nest America.
Takeda: No reason, really. Well, if I have to come up with an answer, it may be the fact I got my Ph.D. from Ohio State University in the US. That’s it, nothing more nothing less.
Maru: I’m sure we all met at the right time for the right reason. We are here to change the world by bridging different entities (schools, industries, universities and societies) with our knowledge in Science and Technology. As a matter fact, we all took a leap of faith. I strongly believe that we can make a difference to the world.
Gather Your Team
Andrew: In order to change the world we need a good strong team. I love all the members we have at Leave a Nest Japan. Hence, I have to build up a similar style in Singapore.
Maru: By the way how do you define “job” or “work”? In other words, do you think of gathering up the team for Singapore Leave a Nest as a task or job?
Andrew: Not at all. What I want to achieve is to gather team members who share the same dream and passion in Singapore too. Two years ago, after my seminar at Nanyang Technology University, 8 of the 12 students who attended the seminar joined the Science workshops conducted by Leave a Nest.
Maru: To find the best partner, one should continue to spread his ideas. Keep talking about ones dream and passion. When the timing is right, he will attract the right ones. “Don’t judge the book by its cover”. Everyone has at least one good personality or characteristic. It is important to look for those good qualities.
Andrew: Yes! We were able to attract enough members to conduct science workshops during the Science Festival in Singapore. Last year, one NTU student who joined us for Science Festival in Singapore and even came to Japan this year for Internship too.
Maru: I can see our developments in Singapore have potential for big growth. Our next step will come from during our project in Malaysia this August. One person can achieve only so much but if you are able to persuade people to join your movement, the possibilities will be infinite. So finding people who can share your vision is crucial in moving forward and creating innovation.
Let’s Become the One to Set a New Value and Innovation
Takeda: As a Ph.D. holder in Science we are capable of creating or discovering new values by asking questions. For each question we can examine the versatility by trial and error, just like any Scientific Research. I also see the potential for Leave a Nest to become the innovation center like 500 startups (Y combinator) like famous incubators in the US. Leave a Nest can be one of the centers of innovation and creation for new values and cultures.
Maru: That’s really an exciting thought. As our company name suggests, Leave a Nest aspire to provide intellectual platform for anyone or any ideas to grow and eventually fledge from the nest. For example, we have worked with primary school student to start up a company to promote chemistry atom bonding card game. We are always looking for new ideas and entrepreneurs around us for collaborations.
Andrew: When Leave a Nest started out 12 years ago, the question was “how to pique interest in Science for the young generation and the general public in Japan” Now, this need is not only realized in Japan but also an Asia-wide phenomenon.
Maru: Language or expertise knowledge is just a tool. One needs to have the right mindset. Of course it would be easier if the person can speak the language but that is not the main prerequisite.
Andrew: Nowadays, researchers in the Science fields are also exploring their study themes covering various disciplines. It may not be surprising to see a behavioral biologist to be working with a neurobiologist or even an engineer.
Takeda: Not only that. International collaborations are norms now. The lab I visited in US has graduate students from Singapore, India, China and more. On top of that, each of them has different field of expertise, yet working to solve the similar questions from different point of view. Besides, working with people from different expert and cultural backgrounds give better chances to come up with new ideas.
Maru: In the future, neither world borders, nor languages nor cultural nor specialized backgrounds will be barriers. The only barrier we should take down is the one inside our mind. By doing so we will become closer to discover a new value and eventually strike a breakthrough for innovations to bring new waves to the world.