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Friday, September 22, 2023

Mitsui & Co. x 4 Startups] Co-Creation with Startups! What is the future that Mitsui & Co.

Starting from the trading of steel products, the Steel Products Division of Mitsui & Co., Ltd. is expanding into manufacturing, maintenance, and digital platform businesses that are not limited to steel. In December 2022, this division held the company's first accelerator program titled "Mitsui & Co. Startup Co-Creation Program 2023 Ver1". What results were achieved from this program, which aimed to co-create new businesses that anticipate industrial issues and potential customer needs? We interviewed Akihiko Hasegawa of the Strategic Planning Office, Iron & Steel Products Division, Mitsui & Co.

Recruitment of startups in a wide range of areas

Mitsui & Co. Startup Co-Creation Program 2023 Ver1" held in December 2022

--What is the background of Mitsui's Steel Products Division's involvement in the accelerator?

Mitsui's Steel Products Division, with its strength in trading steel products globally, has expanded its business category into various fields such as manufacturing, maintenance, and digital platform industries, which are not limited to steel.

However, because user needs are diverse, including mobility, infrastructure, energy, and digital,Tackling newer business challengesThe following is a list of the most important factors that need to be taken into account when making a purchase.

Of course, we have been trying new businesses internally for years, and there are several that are actually growing,The challenge that ideas and approaches are similar only within the companyThere was a So, this time we do not haveAccelerator for ideas and technologyI did.

--What specific issues did you aim to resolve?

There are four themes,One is the creation of businesses that contribute to solving social issues for a sustainable society.It is. As keywords, we sought ideas that would address emerging economic growth, fragile distribution networks, natural disasters, resource scarcity, the threat of cyber-attacks, and human resource shortages.

Second, reposition and develop existing businesses.and sought startups with ideas and technologies in areas such as digital supply chain management, IoT, smart factories, and mobility DX.

Third, business development support utilizing the network of Mitsui & Co.It is. Our goal was not only to collaborate independently with Mitsui, but also to develop start-up businesses together with domestic and overseas business partners with whom we had established relationships. The keywords we used to describe our collaboration partners were automobile manufacturers, construction and industrial machinery, electrical equipment, oil majors, construction and housing, and electric furnaces.

andFourth, business ideas for future trends.It is. We wanted to solicit ideas that have not been incorporated into a solution at this time and discuss them together.

--you asked for ideas in a fairly broad range of areas.

We wanted to develop new value and new businesses based on ideas that we did not have, so we recruited extensively to talk with startups in various phases of their development, even if the ideas were material-based.

Mitsui & Co. Startup Co-Creation Program 2023 Ver1|Creating the future through challenge and creation!

December 6, 2022

4 companies were selected from over 50 entries

--What were the results of this accelerator?

Entries exceeded 50 companies.We received interest from more startups than we had anticipated. From among them.Four companies were selected for the project, which is now in full swing for commercialization, including demonstration experiments and hypothesis testing.I will do so.

--Please tell us more about the four companies you have selected.

The first company is an AI tech companyIt is. We adopted this project because of the high affinity of the technology to the circular economy platform business proposal that we were originally going to do in the Steel Products Division. Specifically, Mitsui and the company are now working together on a business concept to build a new platform by using robots and AI to improve the efficiency of inefficient automobile dismantling operations.

The second company has unique technology in power generation and heat treatment.We adopted the project because we thought we could help them as they were aiming to expand their business overseas. We are aware of market trends related to power generation and heat treatment, and we see the potential to enter the market together with the company. We also have expertise in factory operations and supply chain construction in the manufacturing industry, so we thought we could provide the company with a lot of added value by working together with them.

The third company is a DX solution provider in construction and infrastructureThe company has been working on DX in the construction, public transportation, agriculture, and facilities management fields. The company has been working on DX in various fields such as construction, public transportation, agriculture, and facility management, and we have wanted to work in the field of "construction tech" for many years. And even though it is a start-up, the company has many relationships with major companies, has strengths in niche areas, and has a very attractive management team, so we adopted the company because we wanted to expand our business together.

LastThe fourth company is a university that has not yet incorporatedWe have adopted the following You have been researching technologies related to robotics and motor control, and we asked if we could commercialize these technologies. For many years, Mitsui has been seeking solutions to problems in industries such as manufacturing, where the workforce has been declining significantly. Of course, robotics and remote control are being used to compensate for labor shortages, but there is still human work to be done. In response to this, we began to consider a business plan that utilizes the university's technology.

Never give up the possibility of a start-up until the end.

--What were some of the important points and insights you gained when dealing with startups?

We have had many relationships with startups in the past, and some of our businesses have actually collaborated with them. This time, however, we received entries from more than 50 startups at one time, and we are very pleased to be able to reaffirm our commitment to the startup business.The adherence, slow decision-making, and mindset unique to large companiesI was made aware of this.

In dealing with startups, we were conscious of accepting differences. For example, in many cases, the sense of scale they were seeking and the time frame for reaching their goals were different, so we spent a lot of time carefully reconciling these differences.

--What points, if any, were you aware of during the selection process?

Not abandoning "possibilities" in all phases of the projectIt is. From the time of entry to the final selection, all the startups had discussions until the very end, never giving up on their potential. It took some time, but we were so serious about the project that we worked hard during the final presentation period, sparing no time for rest and relaxation.

So we are not looking forward to commercializing our business with the four companies selected this time. Together with the startups, we hope to nurture each of their businesses to become the next pillar of our business.

--do you plan to continue to hold the accelerator in the future?

Of course. We would like to increase the number of startups we co-create with, as we would like to change into an organization that always incorporates new things and continues to create new businesses,We hope to have a wider range of startups enter the second round!It is. From the time of entry, we would like to have knee-to-knee discussions and pursue more possibilities.

[Call for Applications] Mitsui & Co. Startup Co-Creation Program 2023 Ver2|Creating the Future through Challenge and Creation.

May 31, 2023
name of companyMitsui & Co., LTD.
EstablishmentJuly 25, 1947
representativeKenichi Hori, President and Representative Director
capital stock342,560,274,484 yen (As of March 31, 2023)
Location2-1, Otemachi 1-chome, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8631, Japan
Business OverviewIn the fields of mineral resources, energy, projects, mobility, chemicals, steel products, food, distribution, wellness, ICT, and corporate development, we leverage our global sales bases, networks, and information capabilities to sell a wide variety of products and support them. Diversified business operations, including logistics, financing, and international project development
uniform resouce locatorhttps://www.mitsui.com/jp/ja/index.html
Mr. Akihiko Hasegawa Strategic Planning Office, Iron & Steel Products Division, Mitsui & Co.
Joined Mitsui & Co. career in 2020. He joined Mitsui after 10 years of experience in sales, new business development, and consulting related to ICT, IoT, AI, and other digital technologies at his previous company, and after working in Germany. At Mitsui, he was in charge of new business and digital-related activities in the Iron & Steel Products Division.
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Tomomi Tamura
He joined Snow Brand Milk Industry in 2000. He then worked for an advertising agency and as a sole proprietor before joining BizReach in 2012. Engaged in content creation, he joined NewsPicks in 2016 as an editor on the BrandDesign team, and is now a freelance writer and editor.
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