APU Center for NEXT Generation Business and Industrial Creation (APU-NEXT)

We focus on the future “that has already happened” in the business communities of the Asia Pacific. By clarifying the essence of these communities, we will shape the future of the next generation of business and industry -- this is the mission of APU-NEXT.

Message from the Director

We established APU-NEXT (APU Center for NEXT Generation Business and Industrial Creation) as an affiliated research center of the Ritsumeikan Center for Asia Pacific Studies (RCAPS) at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU) in 2014. As its name suggests, APU-NEXT aims to design the NEXT concept for the business communities in the Asia Pacific region.

Given that one of APU’s visions is to “shape the future of the Asia Pacific region,” we understand that one of our missions is to envision how next generation business and industry in the Asia Pacific region should be. We will focus on innovative movements in business communities in the region, including Japan, and envision the future while clarifying the future that “has already happened,” in Drucker’s words, and the keys to the development of next generation industries.

Now, while focusing on unique companies and organizations of locally based enterprises that produce value in overseas expansion with small but core strengths and creativities, we will make efforts to clarify what is needed for companies and organizations to survive in this increasingly globalized and competitive era. We have examined and accumulated a database of more than 100 domestic and overseas companies. By widely disseminating our research results and sharing them with those who have the same awareness of the issues, we would like to contribute to the sustainable development of the Asia Pacific region.

Takeshi Fujimoto, Director of APU-NEXT, April 2019


Door-to-door survey of companies

Our basic research activity will be to visit companies frequently to interview company presidents and see real business activities. Cases created through such visits will be utilised in textbooks and basic academic research materials.

Joint research and funded research

We will build platforms for industry-government-academia-regional collaborations with companies, universities/research institutions, etc., and promote joint research and funded research. We will also conduct joint research with Ritsumeikan’s business schools in Kyoto and Osaka.

Research meetings and workshops

We will regularly hold research meetings and workshops on business and business management. We will make these events (discussions) open to as many interested parties as possible.

Dissemination of research results

In addition to research meetings and workshops, we will disseminate our research results and contribute to society through publication of books, research reports, papers and working papers, and release of case studies.

Main Activities in AY2022

APU-NEXT is a research center that conducts international comparative research and analysis of small and medium-sized enterprises, such as Global Niche Top companies and family-owned European hidden champion companies, that operate internationally in specific fields, with the main focus on start-up ventures and SME business activities.

In AY2022, the center concluded a research agreement with Technische Hochschule Mittelhessen (THM) for international comparative research and started joint research on the digital transformation of SMEs. In addition, the center conducted a preliminary needs survey of companies in Oita Prefecture for their overseas expansion, commissioned by Oita Prefectural Medical Robot & Device Industry Council, in the name of "AY2022 Eastern-Kyushu Medical Valley Overseas Sales Channel Development Support Survey (Oita Medical Related Equipment Overseas Sales Channel Development Support Survey)".

The center invited Mr. Sumiyoshi, President of Asahi Kasei Medical, a world-class company in the medical and nursing care industry, and Dr. Sankai, President and CEO of CYBERDYNE Inc. to hold a session at Asia Pacific Conference 2022. As a report on the research, the center gave a presentation at the East Kyushu Medical Valley Framework Promotion Conference, hosted by Oita Prefecture and the Oita Prefectural Medical Robot & Device Industry Council.


Global Niche Top (GNT) Business Research Project

In March 2014, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) announced the Global Niche Top Companies Selection 100, a list of companies that secure high global market shares in niche sectors for their technologies and products. From a few years ago, we have been paying attention to the potential for such GNT companies to become new engines of growth for Japan, and have conducted research on their trends.

Family Business Research Project

While keeping in mind synergies with the GNT studies above, we are investigating the trends of family businesses both in Japan and abroad from the viewpoint of sustainability and innovation. Working together with partners such as the Ritsumeikan University Family Business Study Group, we will make efforts to build networks of small- and medium-sized family businesses in Japan and overseas.

Researchers Affiliation / Position Research Field
LEE Geunhee Professor, College of International Management Business Administration (Marketing)
ALCANTARA Lailani Laynesa Professor, College of International Management Business Administration (Marketing, Organisational Theory)
SATO Hiroto Associate Professor, College of International Management Accounting (Management Accounting, Medical Accounting)
FUJIMOTO Takeshi Professor, College of International Management Business Administration (Marketing)
OTAKE Toshitsugu Professor, College of International Management Commercial Science, Risk Management
SUDO Tomonori APS Professor Environmental and Resource Economics and Development Policy
SUZUKI Kanichiro Professor Emeritus Business Administration (Organisational Theory)
NAMBA Masanori Professor Emeritus Innovation Theory, Entrepreneurship
FUKUTANI Masanobu Professor Emeritus Human Resource Management, Management Organization Theory
(Visiting Researcher)
Representative Director,
OSTi Institute
(Visiting Researcher)
Research Associate, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry


Innovation Management - Comparative management analysis of family-owned businesses

By Masanori Namba, Masanobu Fukutani
SENBUNDO Co., LTD. Tokyo, Japan

ISBN978-4-7930-0373-8 C3034 ¥ 2,400 + tax

Analysis of the innovation processes of companies that are rooted in communities

The book takes up six different cases to compare the processes through which family-owned businesses rooted in communities establish their own businesses and expand nationwide. The book clarifies how the businesses employ their strengths to create innovation and what aspects were effective in creating innovation.

Management Strategies of Global Niche Top Companies

By Masanori Namba, Masanobu Fukutani, Kanichiro Suzuki
Toshindo Publising Co Ltd. Tokyo,Japan

ISBN978-4-7989-0162-6 C3034 ¥2,400 + tax

The whole picture of "hidden champions" in Japanese industry will be revealed

Amidst competition for the international market between both developed and developing countries, Global Niche Top (GNT) companies – mid-sized companies that occupy top-level global shares in niche markets focused on specific technologies and products - are now attracting attention. How did these companies establish their positions today? By analysing nine different companies through a theoretical framework addressing the three aspects of competitive strategy, leadership, and innovation, the book will provide a view of the future of Japan's manufacturing industries.

Business Strategy of Global Niche Top Companies

By Takeshi Fujimoto, Masahiro Makita (APU-NEXT)
Bunrikaku publisher

ISBN978-4-89259-761-9 ¥2,800 + tax

Clarifying the business development process of GNT research

This book thoroughly analyses the success factors of nine famous GNT companies. It focuses on the process of business development to break down GNT companies into different types. It also elucidates the common features in the strategies among GNT companies, such as the construction of a direct sales system that does not rely on thorough customer support or trading companies.

International Comparative Analysis on Global Niche Top Companies

By FUJIMOTO Takeshi, OTAKE Toshitsugu (APU-NEXT)
Published by Koyoshobo

ISBN: 978-4-7710-3145-6 ¥2,800 + tax

International Comparative Analysis on Global Niche Top Companies

The existence of small-scaled companies contributing globally in the niche field (GNT companies) is not well known. There are many GNT companies in Germany. What are the keys to success, and what can we learn from them? This book analyzes how to produce GNT companies that are indispensable to the local economy in employment and technological development.


Ritsumeikan Center for Asia Pacific Studies (RCAPS)

Tel: 0977-78-1134 (APU Research Office)
Fax: 0977-78-1135 (same as above)
e-mail: centers*apu.ac.jp(please change the letter from * to @ to protect from spam mail.)

Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU)

1-1 Jumonjibaru, Beppu, Oita 874-8577 JAPAN

Connect with us:

Back to TOP