Japanese ministry is on the hunt for the next Steve Jobs


I don’t need to tell the readers of a blog called Cult of Mac that Steve Jobs could be brilliant. Nor, if you’ve read much about Jobs’ life, do you likely need to be informed that he could sometimes be a little unhinged — whether that meant berating co-workers, or bursting into tears because the design for a forthcoming product didn’t totally live up to his expectations.

A good case can, in fact, be made for the fact that these two qualities went hand-in-hand: that treating the creation of a personal computer or a smartphone as if life depended on it was what made, and still makes, Apple products great.

Taking this idea into consideration, a new plan by Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications seeks to find the country’s next great technology mogul who is just a bit “hen” — the Japanese word for odd, weird, or crazy.

“Steve Jobs was a great entrepreneur, but he was a very unique person,” a spokeswoman for the ministry says of the late Apple co-founder (and noted Japanophile). “The ministry is willing to respect such people and provide support.”

Starting in June, the ministry will provide up to ¥3 million ($30,000) per year to back 10 projects that have the potential to cause “disruptive change” or “create new values throughout the globe.”

Taking a note from Apple’s “Think Different” campaign, the ministry says it is trying to promote innovation in a country that “sometimes frowns on round pegs in square holes.”

To be eligible for the opportunity, companies must be registered in Japan and have the personnel and facilities to carry out their proposed projects.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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