Epson introduces new era of open innovation and commits to people and planet-focused R&D

Epson introduces new era of open innovation and commits to people and planet-focused R&D

  • Change driven by believe that innovation culture can’t be achieved through top-down mandate
  • Adding to product-based R&D, focus will be on the development of new materials and technologies that reduce environmental impact
  • Preview of new solutions given – naturally derived (non-plastic) materials and recycled powdered metals

Six months after announcing its ¥100 Billion investment into sustainable technology innovation, Epson is further committing that its focus for future R&D investment will be on the development of new materials and technologies to reduce environmental impact.

To achieve this, and to advance global competitiveness, Epson is rethinking the fundamental ways in which it generates ideas and brings them to market, supported by new innovation and venture capital funds.

Epson is shifting to become a more open working environment with a ‘bottom-up’ culture to encourage and empower its teams to identify and share new opportunities faster.

 

Guided by a strong principle that all innovation to be rooted in solving societal problems – from minimising resources to reducing waste – employees will be better supported to share and collaborate on new ideas, with an overriding focus on sustainable solutions.

Changes will also include employees being consulted on workplace environment and managerial styles to ensure an open culture.  

Externally

Epson has committed not to pursue excessive revenue growth in favour of generating fair profit, and to supporting a sustainable society through open partnerships and co-operations leveraging its proprietary technologies, products and services.

Epson will also further leverage Epson X, its dedicated venture capital innovation fund set up in 2020 to accelerate collaboration and open innovation, with an initial ¥5 billion ($72m) for venture investment.

“For innovation to be truly transformative, it requires cultural change and collaboration. These initiatives are about ensuring that all voices are heard, and all ideas are considered, as we do our part in acting for society and the environment,” says Yoshiro Nagafusa, European President, Epson.

“We see open innovation as a key driver for our future – increased collaboration, partnerships and shared knowledge enable development and innovation for the better. This is true whether we look inside our own business or outside to collaborate with others in order to solve complex problems.

“While we have long sought to operate within a healthy and open-minded corporate culture, it is important for us to keep evolving.” 

Alongside this commitment, Epson is previewing the advances it has already made in the form of ground-breaking biodegradable and recyclable materials and innovations including biomass plastics and recycled powdered metals.

Biomass plastics

Practically demonstrating the benefits of open innovation, Epson has contributed to the development of a new form of bioplastic (plastics derived from biological sources) as part of a collaborative consortium of organisations 1. ‘Pararesin’ is a promising new biomass plastic that uses paramylon, a stored polysaccharide in Euglena algae. The consortium aims to have the capacity to supply approximately 200,000 tonnes of the marine-degradable, biomass-derived plastic annually by 2030 as a viable alternative to conventional plastics.

 

 

1The Pararesin Japan Consortium, comprises: Euglena Co., Ltd. (representative managing company); Epson (leading research on the saccharification process for materials such as waste paper); NEC (leading the standardisation and beneficial use of pararesin); University of Tokyo, Professor Iwata (Special Advisor – providing advice regarding the activities of the consortium and coordinate advisors).

“The low rate of effective waste plastic use and the environmental pollution caused by marine plastics have become significant global problems,” continues Yoshiro Nagafusa.

 

“We believe in providing solutions to benefit both people and planet, replacing fossil-fuel-based resins and reducing carbon dioxide emissions and environmental impact.”

Powdered metals

Epson is working through its subsidiary company, Epson Atmix, to build a circular manufacturing infrastructure by creating products for 3D moulding using metal powders refined from waste metals that can be used to create components including car and electrical parts.

“We’re very proud of these developments and Epson’s R&D strategy which is rooted in a firm commitment to developing innovative technologies that help solve societal issues.”