Special Feature: Innovation
Helping Solve Social Challenges through the Pursuit of Innovation
The Mitsui Chemicals Group’s Technological Strengths and Social Contributions
Over the course of its 100-plus-year history since launching ammonium sulfate factory operations in 1912, the Mitsui Chemicals Group has supported the innovation of entire industries by applying its core technologies in the areas of materials sciences, process technology, and polymer sciences to provide a wide range of materials meeting the needs of the times.
Today, our automotive materials account for a large share of the global market, helping to make automobiles lighter and preserve the environment. Our ophthalmic lens materials and other health care products contribute to a healthy and aging society and a higher quality of life. At the same time, our Basic Materials product lineup serves a wide range of industries and has enabled a reduction in GHG emissions and energy-savings at our six plants in Japan and 42 manufacturing bases overseas. Furthermore, through our alliances with neighboring communities, we play a large role in social infrastructure.
Chemistry is central to the innovation needed to solve global issues, and Mitsui Chemicals will continue to contribute in a big way going forward.
Pursuing Technologies Geared toward Innovation
One of the basic strategies outlined in the 2025 Long-Term Business Plan is the pursuit of innovation, and technology plays an indispensable role in spurring that innovation. As stated above, the Mitsui Chemicals Group has built up its core technologies over a history spanning more than 100 years. We will continue to work to further strengthen these technologies while also preserving their traditions.
However, it is impossible to keep up with the rapid pace of innovation in modern times with only our proprietary technology.
We must actively introduce new technologies and work with companies across different industries beyond chemicals. We are currently moving ahead with technological alliances with a number of venture companies and research organizations, such as euglena Co., Ltd. and Microwave Chemical Co., Ltd. We are pursuing process innovation by cultivating unprecedented ideas that draw from biology and cutting-edge technologies.
Using AI and IoT
Using AI, IoT, and other advanced technologies can lead to innovation. The Group aims to construct next generation plants and is promoting adaption to various fields at each plant. We aim to make operations at chemical plants safer and more efficient through measures that include the use of AI in operations and quality inspections, the use of big data in predictive maintenance, and the use of IoT in passing on veterans’ technical knowledge.
We are also looking to use AI in areas other than plants. In R&D, we are taking measures to promote materials informatics* to create materials. In the dental materials business, we are integrating CAD and AI to make treatments for missing teeth more efficient and to make the design more detailed.
*A development method that applies informatics (the study of natural and engineered computation systems) to new materials design
Creating New Customer Value
Technology is one way to spur innovation, but technology by itself will not create new customer value. To transform from a materials supplier into a solutions provider, we need to broaden our view, understand customer views and needs from more inclusive scope, and enhance our ability to provide solutions as a partner.
We are currently promoting initiatives aimed at understanding various needs from new perspectives, such as MOLp café open laboratory events and our partnership with the venture rimOnO Corporation, which is developing ultra compact electric cars.
In addition, we are enhancing our ability to provide solutions, for example, by acquiring the molds manufacturer Kyowa Industrial Co., Ltd. and shares of ARRK CORPORATION, which provides development support services focusing on the automotive sector. In these and other ways we are incorporating open innovation concepts and will continue to provide new value to customers.
We are also beginning to see results in entirely new fields, in particular, our solar photovoltaic power generation diagnostics business is bolstering the solar energy market, our rapid testing system for the identification of bacteria is supporting the medical industry, and our new cultivation system iCAST™ is transforming the agricultural industry. Going forward, we will continue to contribute to society by establishing new businesses.
MOLp café: https://www.mitsuichem.com/en/molp/index.htm
Because a zeal for problem solving is indispensable to innovative thought, we need to encourage a shift in the mindsets of our researchers and engineers. The aforementioned initiatives will also help to motivate researchers and engineers. Furthermore, we will need talented persons that can work beyond the silos of manufacturing, sales and marketing and create relationships with various companies. People are what creates new value—not AI.
We will therefore continue to train personnel that believe in the possibility of chemistry, deftly deploy proprietary technology, keep an eye on the wider world, and cooperate with external organizations to create new value alongside customers.
Expect exciting developments from the Mitsui Chemicals Group to be coming soon.