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The New York Times profiles a growing ecosystem for entrepreneurs and startups in Japan. Though, all of these “where’s the next Silicon Valley” articles always make the inevitable comparison to the Valley:

The 20-somethings in jeans sipping espresso and tapping on laptops at this Tokyo business incubator would look more at home in Silicon Valley than in Japan, where for years the surest signs of success were the gray suits of its corporate salarymen.

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Five-year-old Spanish startup Optimitive has raised a $1.9 million Series A round from European venture capital fund GGM Venture Capital to boost sales of its artificial intelligence software. The company, which came out of the Surge Accelerator in Houston, can help refineries, manufacturers, power generators and industries that are heavy energy users, make their processes more efficient in real time.

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A startup that’s recently been spun off from MIT — SolidEnergy — is making materials for lithium ion batteries for electric cars that could make them cheaper, less flammable in the event of an accident, and capable of holding more energy, according to MIT Tech Review. The company, which has developed a lithium-metal electrode (instead of graphite) and combined that with a safer electrolyte, plans to sell its materials to battery makers. It has raised a round of venture funding and is working with battery maker A123 Systems.

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