BreakThrough Interview

Survive by knowing your strengths and customer needs as well as forming an ecosystemMitsufuji Corporation

Series 2 (Total 2 series)

2020.02.20

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Mitsufuji Corporation is gaining prominence in Japan and around the world for its solution service "hamon" that utilizes wearable devices with the unique silver-plated conductive fiber "AGposs." Company president Ayumi Mitera rebuilt the company during its bankruptcy crisis. We asked him about future developments in light of market trends and a message to SMEs.


Focused on market changes, and aiming to solve problems with cooperation

The wearable market has grown in recent years, with increasing interest in its potential. Mitsufuji has thrived off of "providing the one-stop solution "hamon" which combines thread material, clothing that acquires biometric information and is woven for comfort, a data transmitter for saving labor and miniaturization, and an application and cloud that visualizes the state of the wearer." The company is now heading in a new direction.

"In the 20th century, the selling point of machines was their capabilities, such as through miniaturization, and the quality of materials. However, the 21st century is challenging us to think about what problems can be solved using these machines and materials. Based on accurate biometric data obtained with the highly conductive "AGposs" and our own algorithm for visualizing conditions, we strive to be a platform company that solves social issues through cooperation with other organizations and companies.

Expanding the range of services by targeting medicine and health

Mitsufuji is now striving to be a company that solves social issues, with a particular focus on medicine and health, and is working on solutions to management challenges including feeling unwell, epilepsy prediction, and stress management.

"While aiming to obtain approval for medical devices, we also want to roll out medical-level healthcare and services that are more affordable and easy-to-use for the general public. In the field of sports science, we have started a service to acquire and analyze data necessary for the training and self-care of athletes."

Mitsufuji actively collaborates with other companies, and jointly developed bra-type wearables with Wacoal. In addition, in collaboration with Peach Aviation, which is actively engaged in health management, stress analysis* is performed under doctor supervision with biological information obtained from flight attendants wearing the clothing. The company also aims to reform work styles and improve work schedules.
*In the field of mental health, Mitsufuji has a business alliance with Medical B Connect Co., Ltd.

 

Bra-type wearable "iBRA"

 

Strengthening core data analysis through joint research with universities

Mitsufuji is also focusing on joint research with universities. The company collaborated with the University of Occupational and Environmental Health, Japan to develop an algorithm for countering heat. In addition, Mitsufuji is jointly developing a mechanism to predict epileptic seizures with Nagoya University, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, and Kumamoto University.

"When we contact a university's office for industry-academia collaboration, they are willing to consider joint research even if our financial commitment is small. I think SMEs could approach them without hesitation."

In 2018, a new factory was established in Kawamata-machi, Fukushima Prefecture, utilizing subsidies from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to promote further joint development. With a co-working room, a conference room, a proof-of-concept laboratory, and a research and development room with full security, this factory is used not only to produce clothing but also as a place of innovation that immediately makes ideas a reality through rapid prototyping.

"As the market grows, more companies will enter it, and there is no market where only one company can survive. Surviving is possible if you properly understand your strengths, face social issues head-on, and cooperate and jointly develop with diverse partners to form a business ecosystem. We want to manage the company flexibly to create new value."


Series Survive by knowing your strengths and customer needs as well as forming an ecosystem

Series 1 Rebuilding a business as a problem-solving business that combines unique silver-plated conductive textiles with IoT
Series 2 Survive by knowing your strengths and customer needs as well as forming an ecosystem


Company overview

Mitsufuji Corporation

Ayumu Mitera, President and CEO

With its roots in a Nishijin-ori obi sash factory established 1956 in Kyoto by Mr. Mitera's grandfather, MitsuFuji Textile Industry Co., Ltd. was founded in 1979. In 1995, the company concluded an exclusive sales contract with a silver plating manufacturing company in the United States, and in 2002 registered the trademark "AGposs," a comprehensive brand for silver-plated textiles. The company changed to its current name in 2015, and in 2016 the company's first solution service "hamon" was announced.

Coverage date November 28, 2019

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