Mitsubishi Research Institute, Inc.

Business Idea Competition to address societal problems on the theme of "Energy and Environment" "Water and Food"

Summary

Innovation Network for Co-Creating the Future Business Idea Competition

Societal problems have become heightened and more complex since the dawn of the 21st century, both in Japan and around the world, and the public sector is reaching the limits of its capabilities to address these problems on its own. We are preparing to launch the Innovation Network for Co-Creating the Future, a platform to facilitate collaboration among industry, government, academia, and citizens by gathering knowledge from around the world and promoting co-creation and implementation through optimal combinations in order to help resolve these growing issues with groundbreaking technologies and innovations and contribute to sustainable growth.
 
To jumpstart this endeavor, we are holding a Business Idea Competition to address societal problems on the theme of "food and water" and "energy and environment". We look forward to receiving applications from persons and startups who are passionate about addressing societal problems in the area of each fields, both in Japan and around the world.

Announcements

Program

Addressing societal problems on the theme

Energy and Environment

Aiming to realize a society where clean and sustainable energy can be used by all the people, by innovative technologies and business models.

Sub-themes

At the Innovation Network for Co-Creating the Future, we believe that the following 4 changes will have a significant impact in resolving societal problems in the area of energy and environment.

  • In energy supply it is necessary to sustainably realize the three Es (energy security, economic growth, and environmental conservation) and the one S (safety) (= 3E+S).
  • The target for reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030 in the private sector (business and domestic sectors) is about 40% (relative to 2013) (the maximum percentage reduction compared with the industrial and transport sectors).
  • In large scale works the introduction of heat use technologies is advanced, but there are cases of ineffective utilization.
  • There is insufficient recycling (= utilization of urban mining) of valuable metals including rare metals that are commonly used in products that are the foundation that support society now and in the future, such as next generation automobiles, ICT equipment, etc.

Innovation in diverse energy supply

Social problem

  • In energy supply it is necessary to sustainably realize the three Es (energy security, economic growth, and environmental conservation) and the one S (safety) (= 3E+S).
  • There are various issues in the domestic situation in Japan, such as low energy self-sufficiency, dependence on the Middle East for oil and gas, increasing emissions of greenhouse gases, etc.

Issues to be tackled

  • Realizing energy supply that contributes to "3E+S".

Key words

  • Development of innovative energy production and conversion technologies
    - High efficiency fossil-fired power generation, artificial photosynthesis, utilization of unused heat, utilization of new energy resources (algae, methane hydrate, etc.)
  • Development of innovative energy storage and transport technologies
    - Pumped storage, electricity storage, and energy storage technologies (storage batteries, pumped storage, hydrogen, etc.), superconductive electricity transmission
  • Advanced operation of energy infrastructure
    - Demand-side asset utilization (VPP, DR, etc.), advanced transmission and distribution of electricity (utilization of drones), imaging diagnosis, etc.
    - Realization of P2P electrical power transactions utilizing block chains
  • Reduction of the coal used in iron and steel and cement industries
    - Development of manufacturing process technologies using energy sources other than coal
    - Development of alternative materials with low lifetime emissions
    - Reduction in quantity of raw materials produced by recycling

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Innovation in energy efficiency

Social problem

  • The target for reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030 in the private sector (business and domestic sectors) is about 40% (relative to 2013) (the maximum percentage reduction compared with the industrial and transport sectors).
  • To achieve this target, it is necessary to create reduction measures with excellent cost effectiveness while maintaining comfort and efficiency.

Issues to be tackled

  • Creation of demand-side solutions contributing to realization of low CO2 private sector

Keywords

  • Technologies to reduce energy consumption while maintaining spatial comfort
    - Energy management services utilizing the IoT (inclusive and disaggregation technologies, HEMS / BEMS FEMS, etc.)
    - Reduction of air conditioning and lighting loads (individual air conditioners, lighting automatic control, clothing that does not require air conditioning, etc.)
  • ICT technologies and new technologies to realize transactions
    - Smartphones (construction of comfort systems utilizing the latest ICT technologies, voice technologies, etc.)
  • Proposals for work activities and lifestyles to reduce energy consumption
    - Change of social systems, such as summer time, site selection taking climate conditions into consideration (location of data centers in cold regions, etc.)
    - Passive solar / improvement in thermal insulation performance, work efficiency using ICT, such as teleworking, etc.

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Innovation for heat energy efficiency

Social problem

  • In large scale works the introduction of heat use technologies is advanced, but there are cases of ineffective utilization.

Issues to be tackled

  • Realization of new heat energy utilization technologies

Keywords

  • New heat energy utilization technologies
    - Tri-generation
    - Heat energy storage devices
    - Transport of heat media
    - Heat pumps

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Innovation in material life cycles

Issues to be tackled

  • There is insufficient recycling (= utilization of urban mining) of valuable metals including rare metals that are commonly used in products that are the foundation that support society now and in the future, such as next generation automobiles, ICT equipment, etc.
  • Methods of economic and stable utilization of forestry resources and organic biomass in which self-sufficiency is possible are undeveloped at present.

Issues to be tackled

  • Promotion of resource management and innovation taking into consideration the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, and recycle), and effective utilization of unused resources.

Keywords

  • Horizontal recycling, advanced recycling
    - Sensor sorting and robotic sorting, low cost recycling and refinement of non-ferrous metals and rare metals
  • Advanced utilization of biomass resources
    - Efficient forestry management technologies, cellulose nanofibers, high fire resistance and high strength composite materials, technologies for the utilization of sewage sludge, raw waste, livestock waste, etc.

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Water and Food

Aiming for society where safe and secure food is available for everyone.

Sub-theme

At the Innovation Network for Co-Creating the Future, we believe that the following 4 changes will have a significant impact in resolving societal problems in the area of water and food.

  • As globalization of food production and distribution progresses, problems of food safety increase, such as use of agricultural chemicals, post-harvest, etc., which negatively affect production and consumption (reduction in production and consumption due to reduced reliability, increased costs of ensuring safety, etc.)
  • With worldwide economic growth, the population is flowing from rural to urban areas, so there is insufficient labor for the agricultural industry.
  • With the explosive increase in population mainly in developing countries, it is becoming difficult to produce the food necessary to nourish the whole population. Also, as the rate of food self-sufficiency in Japan reduces, the demand for sources of protein is dramatically increasing due to economic growth mainly in the emerging nations, so there is a possibility that it will become difficult to procure a stable source of protein (meat and seafood) for Japan.
  • A shortage of water resources that can be used for drinking and agricultural production is occurring worldwide.

Innovation in the supply of safe and secure food

Social problem

  • As globalization of food production and distribution progresses, problems of food safety increase, such as use of agricultural chemicals, post-harvest, etc., which negatively affect production and consumption (reduction in production and consumption due to reduced reliability, increased costs of ensuring safety, etc.)

Issues to be tackled

  • Improvement of reliability in the supply chain as a whole (production, processing, distribution, consumption)

Keywords

  • Establishment of fully automated safe food production lines
  • Establishment of food traceability
    - Low cost substance verification methods, block chains, etc.
    - Higher added value of agricultural products, branding, etc.
  • Production methods to minimize the increase in cost and greatly reduce the quantity of agricultural chemicals used
  • Methods of communicating information regarding food safety to consumers accurately and in an easy to understand manner
    - Supply of accurate information regarding food additives, residual agricultural chemicals, and sanitation management, and effective ideas for reducing damage to reputation, etc.
  • Development of low cost safe distribution systems, etc.

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Innovation for efficient production and supply of food

Social problem

  • With worldwide economic growth, the population is flowing from rural to urban areas, so there is insufficient labor for the agricultural industry.
  • In Japan the problem of aging and insufficient labor force in the agricultural industry has become serious. Also the productivity of the agriculture industry is low compared with other industries, so this is not an attractive career choice for young people.
  • The annual arisings of food waste in Japan is 19 million tons. Of this the edible part of the food waste, in other words the food loss, is 6.32 million tons, which exceeds the worldwide food aid of 3.9 million tons.

Issues to be tackled

  • Realization of high efficiency food production, supply, and consumption, reduction in waste, and effective utilization.

Keywords

  • Vitalization of the agriculture industry by improvement in productivity and increasing the numbers engaged in agriculture (promotion of participation in the agriculture industry)
    - Production systems utilizing IoT, robots, etc.
  • Reduction of waste at the food production stage
    - Introduction of ultra water conserving agriculture (precision agriculture), production adjustment systems attuned to market demand, etc.
  • Waste reduction in the processing, distribution, and consumption stages
    - Sophistication of the food supply chain (safe and secure food distribution and storage, matching supply and demand to prevent food loss, common platforms for food bank projects, etc.), reuse as other than food (animal feed, fertilizer, energy from methane, etc.), etc.

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Innovation in the supply of protein

Social problem

  • With the explosive increase in population mainly in developing countries, it is becoming difficult to produce the food necessary to nourish the whole population. Also, as the rate of food self-sufficiency in Japan reduces, the demand for sources of protein is dramatically increasing due to economic growth mainly in the emerging nations, so there is a possibility that it will become difficult to procure a stable source of protein (meat and seafood) for Japan.

Issues to be tackled

  • Establishment of stable supply in response to changes in the global food demands.

Keywords

  • Efficient cultivation and production of aquatic resources
    - Low energy cultivation technologies, efficient feed supply systems, etc.
  • Development of new protein resources and food
    - Development of processed foods and feedstuffs, etc., using new protein resources, such as insects
  • Efficient beef production methods
    - Cultured meat, etc.

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Innovation in the development of efficient means of water utilization

社会問題

  • A shortage of water resources that can be used for drinking and agricultural production is occurring worldwide.
  • In Japan the aging of social infrastructure and increase in renewal costs are becoming problems. There is also aging in the water supply infrastructure for supplying safe water, so renewal is necessary. In particular efficient renewal methods and reconstruction methods are necessary in areas where there is significant population reduction.

取り組むべき課題

  • Development of dispersed or independent circulation type water use means.

キーワード

  • Efficient construction of water supply facilities in sparsely populated areas
    - Distributed water storage devices
    - Technologies for maintenance-free or low repair and renewal cost water supply infrastructure
  • Development of technologies for purification of wastewater and polluted water, and recovery of various water resources
    - Development of plumbing products and materials to enable water conservation and recycling (recycling toilets, etc.)

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Eligible stages of ideas

You may submit an idea in either of the following stages.

Ideas using open innovation

This refers to innovative ideas for solving problems, prior to any specific product or software, etc. Realization of such ideas would be based on open innovation. Mitsubishi Research Institute can provide support to connect these ideas with companies that have the necessary resources (technologies, products, networks, sales networks, etc.).

Ideas with prototype products, services, or software

This refers to ideas for solving problems using applicable products or software that a company already possesses. The idea does not need to consist only of the company's own products and software. If any additional resources are lacking, ideas with combinations of other resources can also be proposed after the need is clarified.

Benefits for Competition participants

Mentoring by MRI scientists with expert knowledge

Our team of mentors, consisting of experts in fields such as "food and water", "energy and environment" and business strategy, will provide support for enhancing business models, improving presentation skills, and starting up actual businesses.

Cash award and supplementary awards

Cash award:
1 million yen + (or optionally) supplementary awards
Examples of supplementary awards:
Support from Mitsubishi Research Institute for business development (applying for permits and licenses, conducting proving tests, etc.)
Participation in prominent venture support programs (under consideration)

Screening process

Competition procedures and criteria for participants

Primary screening(document review)

The business plans, participants' strong points, and other information in each application form will be comprehensively evaluated, including the extent to which it addresses societal problems, the level of impact, benefits to users, business potential, and feasibility.

Secondary screening(presentations)

In addition to perspectives from the primary screening, presentations will be comprehensively evaluated, including the passion demonstrated by participants for addressing societal problems and pursuing their business plan.

Mentoring(one month)

Mentoring sessions will be held by MRI scientists. Our team of mentors, consisting of experts in fields such as "food and water", "energy and environment" and business strategy, will provide support for enhancing business models and improving presentation skills.

Final screening(pitch Competition)

Participants who pass the secondary screening will give presentations in the form of a pitch Competition before a panel that will include experts and business development officers of companies.

Schedule

  • April 17

    The application guidelines are announced, and acceptance of applications for primary screening (document review) commences. (Note: Explanatory briefings will be held prior to the application deadline.)

  • June 30

    Deadline for applications for primary screening (document review).

  • Mid July

    Notification of the results of primary screening (document review).
    Participants who passed the primary screening (document review) will prepare their presentations for the secondary screening (presentations).

  • Late July

    Secondary screening (presentations).

  • Early August

    Notification of the results of secondary screening (presentations).

  • August-September

    Mentoring is provided (one month).

  • September 15

    Final screening (pitch Competition) is held.

Competition requirements

Eligible participants

Individuals and venture companies having less than 100 million yen or 1 million USD in capital, etc. (capital, capital reserves, and capital surplus), and having a goal of addressing societal problems within the scope defined by Mitsubishi Research Institute through business means.

Eligible ideas

Ideas and business models on the use of business to address societal problems within the scope of this program. Applications may be submitted in either of the following cases.

  • Ideas that promise innovative solutions, although the product or service has not yet been developed
  • Solutions using services that have already been launched or products in the prototype stage

Advisory Board

We welcome domestic and foreign experts and experts who have agreed to the activities of INCF as advisors.

Please check from here for details.

FAQ

Eligible areas of business for the program

Are nonprofit organizations included?

No, the program does not include nonprofit organizations.

Can we apply if our service has already been launched (open for business)?

Yes. You can also apply if you have an existing business and you want to use the technology on which your business is based to expand into the area of "food and water" or "energy and environment" for the first time.

Can we apply for multiple business plans?

Yes. However, only one business plan per company will be selected.

Intellectual property rights

Who will own the intellectual property rights?

Intellectual property rights for business plans and products developed during the business plan Competition period will belong to the participants.

Other

How many companies will be selected through the screenings?

We expect that five to seven companies will participate in the final screening (pitch Competition).

Will you pay any travel expenses or development costs, etc. during the Competition period?

Management will pay travel expenses for persons who travel from distant locations to participate in the final screening (pitch Competition).

Can individuals apply?

Yes.