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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Open innovation creates seeds for the future five to ten years down the road, not short-term results! |Fuji Furukawa E&C

Fuji Furukawa E&C Corporation is a general facilities company that supports social infrastructure with a wide range of technological capabilities in areas such as electrical and instrumentation, air conditioning, construction, power transmission, and information and telecommunications, under the brand statement "Trust each other, grow together, and create the future. In 2009, three companies with different strengths merged to form Fuji Furukawa E&C. This time, the company has decided to engage in the Accelerator Program on a company-wide basis. Fuji Furukawa E&C believes that in order to create new business pillars that can solve various issues surrounding the construction industry and social infrastructure, it is essential to collaborate with startup companies that have technological capabilities and ideas that Fuji Furukawa E&C does not have. We spoke with Atsunori Tao, Director, Executive Officer, General Manager of Construction Engineering Division, about the company's business, the issues it hopes to solve, and its thoughts on this initiative.

A "general equipment company" created in 2009 through the merger of three companies

-What is the nature of Fuji Furukawa E&C's business?

Fuji Furukawa E&C was formed in October 2009 through the merger of Fuji Electric E&C, Fuji Electric General Construction, and Furukawa General Equipment, three equipment construction companies of the parent Fuji Electric Group and Furukawa Electric Group. Under the brand statement "Trust each other, grow together, and create the future," we contribute to customers and society through various types of facility construction.

The five main business segments are "plant equipment construction," "air conditioning equipment construction," "internal line electrical construction/building and civil engineering construction," "power transmission and distribution construction/information and telecommunications construction," and "overseas construction.

Plant and Facility Construction" includes social infrastructure construction to support public facilities such as water supply and sewage systems, industrial system construction for industrial plants such as steel, paper, and petrochemical plants, and power equipment and machinery installation for thermal, hydroelectric, and nuclear power generation.

Air Conditioning Installation" provides design and construction of air conditioning and sanitary facilities for a wide range of facilities, from factories, data centers, and research facilities to office buildings, hospitals, schools, hotels, and more. In the "Internal Electrical Construction/Architectural and Civil Engineering" category, we design and construct electrical equipment and photovoltaic power generation equipment for government facilities, factories, office buildings, and condominiums, as well as new building construction and renewal work.

In the Power Transmission and Distribution/Information and Communication Construction segment, we design and construct overhead and underground power transmission systems using steel towers, as well as high-speed, high-capacity information infrastructure facilities and communications equipment for highways.

The three companies have merged to form a comprehensive equipment company with many strengths, including many technological capabilities and a proven track record.

Various social problems and issues that need to be solved want to collaborate with startups to find a foothold for new businesses.

-What issues and background led you to introduce the Accelerator Program this time?

As Fuji Furukawa E&C celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2023, we are targeting consolidated net sales of 100 billion yen in FY2023 in our medium-term management plan, which ends in FY2023. Since the integration of the three companies, Fuji Furukawa E&C has continuously achieved record performance and expanded the scale of its business, but given the uncertain future market environment, achieving this goal will not be easy.

Therefore, in FY2019, we have been working to establish a foundation for R&D promotion, rebuild a system that facilitates the proposal of new development themes, and aim for proactive proposals from business units, but we have not received positive feedback from within the company. This was because, although this could be said to be an issue for the construction industry as a whole, we were extremely busy due to the booming economy, including the Tokyo Olympics, and there were concerns about whether we would be able to take on new initiatives.

However, we have an aging population, including our outsourced construction business partners, and there is a shortage of human resources. Therefore, Fuji Furukawa E&C decided to lead the industry in creating new businesses through open innovation to solve numerous social issues.

-Did you encounter any opposition from within the company to starting a new initiative?

Although there are voices of concern, there is no opposition. This is because there are many issues that the construction industry needs to solve, such as energy problems, labor saving and efficiency, aging population, labor shortage, aging facilities, countermeasures against infectious diseases, and natural disasters, and these issues are commonly recognized.

Because we are a company that designs and constructs infrastructure essential to society, we would like to create new business pillars for the next 5 to 10 years by combining the ideas and technical capabilities of startups that we cannot come up with. Since internal resources alone are not enough to actively come up with development themes, we would like to receive various opinions and suggestions from startups to use them as a catalyst to change the company, the industry, and society.

Also, although open innovation itself is a new initiative for us, rest assured that everyone from management to new employees is looking in the same direction and promoting a change in awareness and culture toward innovation. We are also in the process of promoting internal visualization for this purpose.

We want to work together to create the future, not just immediate results, but five to ten years into the future.

-What are your expectations of startups? What kind of startups would you like to collaborate with?

What we expect is to find a foothold for new business utilizing existing technology that we could not come up with in-house alone. We also hope to evolve into a company that can create new businesses by collaborating with progressive start-ups and instilling new ways of thinking and values in our internal members, which will lead us into the future.

In addition, this time we would like to create a new business pillar from a long-term perspective, rather than short-term results, so we would like to collaborate with startups flexibly, with a variety of options available, including business alliances and investments.

As for startups we would like to work with, for example, if the theme is labor-saving construction or efficiency improvement, we can imagine collaborating with startups that have technological capabilities in robotics, AI, IoT, etc. We would also like to consider collaborations with people who have technologies and ideas that we have not yet imagined, so we would be interested in hearing from startups that are interested in working with us. We would be happy to receive a wide range of proposals from interested startups.

In any case,New initiatives in areas that existing businesses can handle, or startups with any strengths, as long as they can collaborate with existing technologies.We are looking forward to working with you. We invite you to create a business that contributes to society by combining our various assets with a startup's unique proposal. Together, we will achieve sustainable growth and leave a better future for future generations. We look forward to receiving your proposals.

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PORT by Creww is an open innovation media for startups, entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs in recovery, and companies seeking to create new businesses on the theme of social issues, operated by Creww Co.


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