News

Japanese entrepreneur returns to PSU to discuss AI and startups
Author: Cristina Rojas, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Posted: February 9, 2018

Mayuko Yamaura, a Portland State University alumna who is part of an emerging generation of Japanese entrepreneurs, is returning to campus this month to discuss trends in the artificial intelligence industry and the challenges of building a startup.

Yamaura is speaking at 6 p.m Feb. 15 in the Smith Memorial Student Union Room 327. Her talk is free and open to the public.

The lecture with Yamaura will be the second in a series, "Entrepreneurship in Contemporary Japan," hosted by Portland State's Center for Japanese Studies.

The first lecture took place in January, with Hajime Kuwayama, co-founder of Emotion Intelligence, Inc. and a Portland State exchange student. The final lecture will be given by Yamato Watanabe about reinventing the advertising agency business on March 8.

"A lot of Americans, when they think of Japan, the absolute last thing they think of is entrepreneurship, in no small part because there's been a lot of focus on big corporations and salarymen," said Ken Ruoff, a history professor and director of the Center for Japanese Studies."People forget that there's this incredible history of entrepreneurship in Japan and it's still very vibrant."

Yamaura first came to Portland State as an exchange student, but later transferred and graduated in 2012 with a bachelor's in marketing. She co-founded edison.ai, which uses AI to collect and read social media pictures and then sells the data to companies for marketing purposes.

"She's considered to be one of the more dynamic female entrepreneurs in Japan at this point," Ruoff said.

He said he hopes students walk away with an interest in starting their own companies after graduation and consider Japan as a market ripe with opportunity.

The lecture series is supported by a $15,000 grant from Tokyo-based Toshiba International Foundation.