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Case study - SVCS Process Innovation

Introduction

SVCS Process Innovation is a Czech SME that specializes in the designing and manufacturing of horizontal and vertical diffusion furnaces, tailored for the semiconductor and photovoltaic industries. Additionally, the company produces a variety of gas source systems, including gas cabinets, valve manifold boxes, and customized equipment gas manifolds.

SVCS builds on the legacy of the former Czechoslovakia's semiconductor industry expertise. Established in Brno in 2000, the company has successfully expanded its operations worldwide, including in Japan.

svcs logo

 

Why Japan

Around a decade ago, SVCS Process Innovation ventured into the Japanese market. As part of this strategic move, the Czech company began to regularly participate in nano tech Japan, a premier trade fair dedicated to nanotechnology.  This regular involvement paved the way for the company to be selected by the EU-Japan Centre for its Nanotech Business Mission in the years 2016, 2019, and 2020.

SVCS received comprehensive support from the Centre, which included provisions such as an exhibition booth at the fair, translation services to bridge communication barriers, and professional guidance to navigate the complexities of the Japanese market effectively.

Mr. Dolak, the Managing Director of SVCS and participant to the business missions, underscored the importance of pre-fair activities, which included visits to Nagoya and Sendai – key hubs for semiconductor research and manufacturing. These visits were useful for meeting with potential partners establishing new contacts and exchanging new contacts and insights. The Managing Director noted that beyond the direct support received at the fairs, the opportunity to interact with industry leaders played an important role in establishing SVCS’s footprint in Japan, allowing the company to show that “they exist and are active in the market.”

But the company’s history with the EU-Japan Centre goes as far back as 2015, when Mr. Dolak participated to the HRTP* (the Human Resource Training Programme) 4-week training program managed by the EU-Japan Centre, helping EU Executives navigate the Japanese business landscape.

Competition and challenges

While entering the Japanese market can seem challenging due to its perceived lack of openness and customers' preference for local companies, there remains a wealth of opportunities for European businesses.

Another frequently mentioned challenge for European companies aiming to operate in Japan is overcoming language and cultural barriers.

Advice to other European companies who want to break into the Japanese market

A crucial piece of advice for operating successfully in Japan is to partner with someone who is based in the country and is fluent in the language. Without such a partnership, navigating the market can be significantly more challenging, leaving you lost.

Another advice is to try to explore beyond Tokyo, as other parts of Japan also offer significant opportunities. For example, SVCS is planning to focus on Kyushu Island to capitalize on its burgeoning semiconductor sector. This southwestern island is rapidly developing into a hub for semiconductor investments and research.

 

Text based on an interview with Mr. Dolak, Managing Director of SVCS Process Innovation.

Published in April 2024.

*The HRTP (Human Resources Training Programme) has since been replaced by the Centre’s GRFJ (Get Ready For Japan).

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