And the furrow became valley

The great labors of Hercules sometimes inspire local development on the other side of the planet. This is the case with the Silicon Valley and Iizuka, a small city of 130 000 inhabitants located in the Kyushu region.

In 1997, during a trip to the USA, Mr. Hideki Shoda is seized by the dynamic that emerges from the Silicon Valley. He understands that even at a local level, much can be done despite initial handicaps. Back in Iizuka, he decides to make his small town the Silicon Valley of Japan and a top reference in Asia.

He establishes at low cost in a warehouse and found with some volunteers the “Heart at Work”. Cooperation takes place with Stanford University. Soon Iizuka attracts the attention of Sun Microsystems Japan which sees the small city as a development center for the developing Java programming language.

City Hall of Iizuka provides financial support for the project. Thus the “Try Valley Plan” is created in 2003 with the goal of making Iizuka city connected to the world, a place where it is easy to do business as well as a territory in which research, industry and higher education related to the IT sector work together.

The project takes some hard hits. Infrastructures supporting SMEs are affected by severe flooding; City Hall can no longer finance and SMEs are likely to be affected. Mr. Shoda doesn’t give up. It bounces by creating “e-ZUKA Tech Night” to encourage informal communication within a community of engineers, attracting attention of an international community usually caught by Tokyo.

Turning the local furrow into an international valley, it is possible if one is carried by a vision and a strong will.