Mitsubishi Research Institute, Inc.

Water & Food

The goal is to realize a society everyone is provided with clean water and safe, nourishing food.

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 Water and Food.

Innovation in the supply of safe and secure food

Social problem

  • Deterioration of credibility of food safety

    Illness caused by lifestyle habits account for about 30% of national medical expenses and about 60% of deaths among those afflicted are caused by such diseases. Moreover, the proportion will increase further as the aging problem worsens.

Issues to be tackled

  • To enhance the reliability of all parts of the supply chain(production/processing/distribution/consumption)

Examples of innovation

  • Establishment of safe, fully automated, solely machine operated food production lines
  • Establishment of food traceability
    Low-cost product identification and authentication methods, block chain etc.
  • Development of production methods that are cost efficient and dramatically reduces the use of chemical fertilizers
  • Development of a method to convey information on food safety to consumers in an accurate and consumer-friendly manner
    Effective ideas on how to provide consumers with accurate information on food additives, chemical fertilizer residuals and hygiene management so that we can avoid unwarranted rumors

Innovation for efficient production and supply of food

Social problem

  • Labor shortage in the agricultural sector

    Globalization and worldwide economic advancements have prompted massive rural-urban migrations towards the cities, and as a result we are experiencing labor shortages in the agricultural sector. In Japan, aging population and labor shortage in the agricultural sector are problems growing in severity. The productivity of the agricultural sector is lower than that of other industries, and young people are not attracted to employment opportunities in this sector. Furthermore, large amount of food waste is generated at the food production, distribution, and consumption stages.

Issues to be tackled

  • To streamline food supply chain at the production, supply, and consumption stages, to reduce food waste and to generate effective use of it.

Examples of innovation

  • Revitalize the agricultural sector by enhancing productivity and increasing the number of agricultural workers (by promoting entry into this sector)
    Develop production systems that utilize IoT, robot, etc.
  • Develop a production volume adjustment system that takes into account market demand
    Introduction of water-saving features (precision-based agriculture), production volume adjustment system that captures market demand
  • Reduce waste at the processing, distribution, and consumption stages respectively
    Enhance food supply chain through promoting safe and secure food distribution and preservation, prevent food loss by matching demand and supply, and create food banks as a platform for collaboration. Consumable food waste can be recycled at food banks while non-consumable food waste can be recycled as feed, non-chemical fertilizers, or methane for energy.

Innovation in the development of efficient means of water utilization

Social problem

  • Food procurement problem due to population increase

    Due to explosive population growth in developing countries, it has become more difficult to sustainably secure a sufficient level of food production. In addition to declining levels of food self-sufficiency in Japan, competition with emerging economies for sources of protein will inevitably rise. For this reason, Japan may face difficulty in securing stable protein sources such as meat and fishery products in the future.

Issues to be tackled

  • To establish a stable supply system to cope with increasing global demand for food

Examples of innovation

  • Effective farming of marine products
    Energy saving aquaculture technology, efficient bait supply system, etc.
  • Development of new protein resources and food ingredients
    Edible insects, processed food development using new protein resources, etc.
  • Efficient beef production methods
    Cultured meat etc.

Innovations to close gaps between supply and demand in medical and nursing care

Social problem

  • Shortage of water resources and deterioration of water supply facilities

    Water resources that can be used for drinking and agriculture is undergoing depletion worldwide. In Japan, aging social infrastructure and rising replacement costs have added to the problem. Old water supply infrastructure needs to be upgraded or replaced, especially in areas where there is rapid population decline, and thus there is a need to come up with an efficient renewal and reconstruction method.

Issues to be tackled

  • To develop decentralized or self-recyclable means of water use

Examples of innovation

  • Construction of efficient water facilities in depopulated areas
    Dispersed water storage device
    Develop maintenance-free infrastructure, or technology that reduces renewal, replacement and maintenance costs of water infrastructure
  • Development of technology to recycle waste water, polluted water and other water resources
    Develop products or materials that will contribute to maximum water saving or water recycling (circulation type toilet)

Past Finalists

  • 2017 Part1 “Water & Food” Grand Award
    Supporting sustainable & high-profit agricultural business

    Plant Life Systems Co., Ltd.

    Plant Life Systems has developed a biologic artificial-intelligence system that helps in the production of high quality tomatoes. Sugar-rich tomatoes can be grown efficiently and at low cost even under hot and humid conditions. Through the use of ICT and these production-support systems, farmers can be better incorporated in the agricultural value chain and operate profitable business. The business model was developed by an automobile engineer with experience in self-driving and navigation systems.
    More [In Japanese]

  • 2017 Part1 “Water & Food” MRI Award
    A new breeding method for innovation in livestock business

    Setsuro Tech Co., Ltd.

    Setsuro Tech aims to improve the efficiency and quality of livestock business with its new genome editing techniques. By employing electroporation* in animal genome editing, Setsuro Tech has contributed to the mass production of meat and its improved efficiency.
    *A method to introduce certain materials into cells by applying high electric voltage.
    More [In Japanese]

Application Details

  • Benefits for Competition participants

    About mentoring by MRI scientists with expert knowledge in the various fields, cash award and supplementary awards.
    More

  • Screening process

    About the competition procedure and criteria for participation.
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  • Schedule

    About the schedule from the period between the application deadline and the final screening.
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Other-themes

The following themes will also be considered for this program:

Business proposals may also be submitted for multifaceted social issues that involve several focus areas.

Note: business proposals focusing only on infrastructure technologies (e.g. AI and blockchains) will not be accepted.