2019 Japan-U.S. Innovation Program Selects WHILL as SunBridge Emerging Leader Award Winner


At WHILL, innovation is one of our main goals, which is why we are so honored to announce that our founder Satoshi Sugie has been named the Emerging LeaderJapan at the Japan-US Innovation Awards this year. Given his years of hard work, we are thrilled to see him receive such recognition.


Press release from the Japan-U.S. Innovation Awards Program below:


San Francisco, CA – The Japan – U.S. Innovation Awards Program proudly announces the winners of the 2019 SunBridge Emerging Leader Awards. These Awards, one to a U.S. firm and one to a Japanese firm, recognize later-stage dynamically growing companies that have begun to transform an industry or value chain. They will be presented at the ninth annual Japan-US Innovation Awards Symposium at Stanford University on July 26, 2019. The Awards Program is produced by the Japan Society of Northern California in cooperation with the Stanford University US-Asia Technology Management Center.


The SunBridge Emerging Leader – Japan award winner is WHILL. Since its founding in 2012, WHILL’s mission is to transform today’s antiquated power wheelchair and scooter experiences into a new kind of empowering devices, intelligent personal electric vehicles (EVs). WHILL is reinventing the personal mobility industry with personal EVs that focus on an approachable and aesthetically pleasing powered vehicles that boosts confidence and pushes the boundaries of personal transportation. Headquartered in Yokohama with offices in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taiwan and EU, WHILL is focused on enabling everyone to explore the world in comfort and style. (


The SunBridge Emerging Leader – U.S. award goes to Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (“Zoom”). Zoom helps businesses and organizations bring their teams together in a frictionless environment to get more done. Their easy, reliable cloud platform for video, voice, content sharing, and chat runs across mobile devices, desktops, telephones, and room systems. Founded in 2011, Zoom is publicly traded on Nasdaq (ticker: ZM) and is based in San Jose, California. (


Founders and senior executives from both companies will share the story of the company’s innovation and subsequent progress in a panel discussion at the July 26 program at Stanford University. The award is supported by the SunBridge Group, the premier partner for leading enterprise IT companies to enter the Japan market founded by Allen Miner.


Awards Program Steering Committee Chair Richard Dasher, Director of the US-Asia Technology Management Center at Stanford, expressed his delight at the selection of Zoom and WHILL, pointing out that “both winners have made their marks in highly competitive industries, using innovative technology and business models to set new standards of user experience that are changing the face of their respective sectors.”


Past recipients of the Emerging Leader Awards include Tesla Motors, LINE Corporation, Mercari, Dropbox, Preferred Networks, Euglena, and WeWork. Now in its ninth year, the 2019 Japan-U.S. Innovation Awards Symposium will be held Friday, July 26, 2019, at the Stanford University Arrillaga Alumni Center from 1:30 – 6:30 p.m. The Japan-US Innovation Awards Program is the longest running annual program in the Bay Area that highlights the links between Silicon Valley and Japan innovation.


Media Contact:
Wesley Yee