Harnessing the Group’s Underlying Technologies to Create Eco-Friendly Sustainable Businesses
Bio-related business is under the spotlight now from the perspective of environmental consideration. The NAGASE Group is working to harness the biotechnology of Group companies to develop new sustainable materials that are in tune with the times. It established the NAGASE Biotech Office in April 2021 as an intra-Group organization to promote such initiatives.
The NAGASE Group has a wealth of underlying technologies related to R&D and production of microorganisms, fermentation products, enzymes, and products of enzyme reactions. The Nagase R&D Center (NAGASE & CO., LTD.), Nagase ChemteX Corporation, and Hayashibara Co., Ltd. previously worked individually to develop technologies. However, that held them back from making dramatic developments as they inevitability focused on their respective technologies.
NAGASE had the idea that it would be able to deliver new technological value not found elsewhere and powerfully embark on developing new materials meeting customers’ and business partners’ needs if it could mobilize such biotechnology as a Group. Based on that belief, it launched the NAGASE Biotech Office bringing together members from the Nagase R&D Center, Nagase ChemteX, and Hayashibara.
NAGASE Biotech Office
Combining Biotechnology with Unique Technological Value
The NAGASE Group’s biotechnology, including that pertaining to fermentation products, enzymes, and products of enzyme reactions, can be used to provide a wide array of solutions. That is a unique feature of its biotechnology not found at other companies. The NAGASE Biotech Office has been charged with two missions. One is to create themes for developing new materials that bring together the Group’s underlying technologies. Another is to devise business concepts across the Group to commercialize those themes
As for domains, the NAGASE Biotech Office will develop new materials with higher added value in health food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and medicine, along with food ingredients, which the three member entities have mainly targeted to date. It also aims to propose new sustainable materials with more added value in the chemicals and electronics fields going forward.
On the technology front, we will roll out the NAGASE Integration Technology (NIT) strategy. NIT classifies the three member entities’ biotechnology strengths into four categories: screening, improvement technology, fermentation and enzyme reaction technology, and evaluation and analysis technology. By selecting and integrating technologies based on that framework, NAGASE will develop new biotechnology that only it can. NAGASE will also work with the service utilizing the TABRASA™ new material search platform employing AI that it launched in November 2020 to offer the possibilities and value of new materials to the market since there are strong synergies between biotechnology and digital tools.
Concrete development themes and steps towards commercialization are already underway. NAGASE will speed up initiatives to use its biotechnology to generate value that is aligned with customer needs and helps to solve environmental and social issues.
Contributing to the Sustainable Development of Japan’s Materials and Chemical Industries by Supporting Companies’ MI
The NAGASE Group jointly developed the TABRASA™ platform for materials informatics (MI), which utilizes AI to revolutionize new material development, with International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), and started providing it to external parties as a SaaS service in November 2020.
The social environment is changing at a dizzying rate, and materials development is becoming tougher as its pace and functional requirements are also increasing each year. MI has advanced mainly in Europe and the United States, while Japanese companies have been slow to take initiatives on this front. Notably, medium-sized companies are finally just starting to invest in MI, and they must overcome major obstacles in terms of costs and specialist personnel to do so.
NAGASE has provided TABRASA™ as a service to other companies instead of only using it in-house because it has customer networks covering an expensive range of industries and wants to contribute to the sustainable development of Japan’s materials and chemical industries by supporting medium-sized companies’ MI initiatives. At the same time, NAGASE believes this is likely to raise its status as a solutions provider.
New Value Creation (NVC) Office
Aiming for a Platform to Support Value Creation in R&D
TABRASA™ features two different engines. One takes an analytics approach and the other a cognitive approach. MI generally entails using machine learning based on a certain volume of data to making projections about things like physical characteristics and molecular structure. That corresponds to TABRASA™’s analytics approach. Using that approach requires preparing a large volume of data and inputting it. In contrast, the cognitive approach can reduce the work entailed in preparing data by using AI to read data from documents such as theses, and structure that data to generate new knowledge. TABRASA™’s unique strength is that it has both an analytics and a cognitive engine.
Of course, customers can freely utilize the results of materials searches obtained using MI. We have currently received feedback from over 100 corporate customers, and plan to continue to gradually add new functions to the platform moving forward. Our target for the future is a MI platform for resolving various issues, including provision of a matching forum for trading data and resources that will become sources of value (diagram below).
Using TABRASA™ will dramatically change the way R&D is done in materials development. Naturally, it will make development more efficient. It should also enhance creativity and innovativeness, and speed up innovation overall. The NAGASE Group envisions a future where faster innovation wields great influence in solving social issues.
Integrated Report 2021
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Overview of Our Value Creation Story ｜ Our Social Significance ｜ History of Value Creation ｜ Our Business Model ｜ Important Management Resources ｜ Our Risks and Opportunities ｜ [Feature] New Business Looking to the Future ｜ Our Sustainability Management
CEO Message ｜ CFO Message ｜ Business Model Evolution Looking to the Future ｜ Shaping Value 1: Reform of Profit Structure ｜ Shaping Value 2: Reform of Corporate Culture ｜ Shaping Value 3: Corporate Functions Supporting Reform
List of Businesses ｜ Functional Materials Segment ｜ Advanced Materials & Processing Segment ｜ Electronics & Energy Segment ｜ Mobility Segment ｜ Life & Healthcare Segment ｜ Regional Strategy
Our Board ｜ Corporate Governance ｜ Interview with the Outside Directors ｜ Compliance ｜ Risk Management & Responsible Publicity and Marketing ｜ Human Resource Development to Drive Innovation ｜ Creating Environmental Value ｜ Human Rights and Labor Management, Vibrant Work Environments & Responsible Supply Chain ｜ Social Contribution Activities
11-Year Financial Highlights ｜ Financial Information ｜ Consolidated Subsidiaries, Affiliates and Offices ｜ Investor Information ｜ Corporate Information