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Nikkei BP Announces the Seventeenth Japan Innovators Award Winners

The Grand Prize goes to Masaaki Kanai, Chairman and Representative Director of Ryohin Keikaku, for his commitment to Design Management. The award-giving ceremony will take place at 4:30 p.m. on February 26 (Tue.) at Grand Prince Hotel Takanawa.

Tokyo - January 18, 2019 - Nikkei Business Publications (President & CEO: Suguru Niinomi; Tokyo) has announced the winners of 17th Japan Innovators Award 2019. (Hosted by Nikkei Business Publications, Inc., Sponsored by Nomura Holdings, Inc.)

Established in 2002 by Nikkei BP, the award aims to stimulate the country by shedding light on unique and innovative individuals. It is for the 17th time this year. In 2019, the 50th anniversary for Nikkei BP and Nikkei Business, we evaluated the achievements in the past as well as the potential now and in future with regards to Japan originated innovation.

The categories of award have been renewed. In addition to “Grand Prize”, “Nikkei Business Award” (business category), “Nikkei xTECH Award” (technology category), “Nikkei xTREND Award” (marketing category), and “Nikkei Business Raise Award” which targets startup entrepreneurs operating business for less than five years, have been newly created.

The winners were decided among the nominees who had been selected from individuals in a broad range of fields who created new industries and business models, new technologies for the future, and new universal values.

The awarding ceremony will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 26th at “The Prince Room (B1F)” of Grand Prince Hotel Takanawa in Minato-ward of Tokyo.

[ Winners ]

Grand Prize

Mr.Masaaki Kanai, Chairman and Representative Director, Ryohin Keikaku Co.,Ltd.

“For continuously implementing “Design Management” to offer life-style originated by Japan”

Nikkei Business Award

Mr.Kazuma Sekiya, Representative Director and President / CEO, DISCO Corporation

“For establishing innovative in-house management approach by using its own virtual currency”

Nikkei Business 50th Anniversary Special Award

Mr.Yasukane Matsumoto, CEO, Raksul Inc.

“For breaking the bounds of common practice by sharing business in printing and logistics”

Nikkei xTECH Award

Mr.Masahiro Shima, Chairman, Shima Seiki Mfg., Ltd.

“For facilitating “customization” by developing the technology to sterically knit a knitted product”

Nikkei xTREND Award

Kizuna AI, VTuber (Virtual YouTuber)

(Agent: Takeshi Osaka, CEO, Active8 Inc.)

“For taking a leading role in driving the boom as a pioneer of virtual YouTubers”

Nikkei Business Raise Award

Mr.Shinya Kobayashi, CEO, Farmnote Holdings Inc.

“For developing the central management system for cattle’s health by introducing IoT to livestock business”

[Comments ]

Grand Prize

Mr.Masaaki Kanai, Chairman and Representative Director, Ryohin Keikaku Co.,Ltd.

Ryohin Keikaku offers a plain and beautiful “simple, pleasant life” which is originated from Japan for people around the world since the establishment. By following this philosophy without chasing after fads, Mr.Kanai has been unalterably implementing “design management” which is essential to bring innovation. The company has developed the business to “sell” lifestyle and is expanding the business field to implement its vision, such as “MUJI HOTEL GINZA” scheduled to be open in 2019, electric self-driving bus project in Finland, and efforts for regional revitalization.

Nikkei Business Award

Mr.Kazuma Sekiya, Representative Director and President / CEO, DISCO Corporation

Mr.Sekiya invented a unique management approach using its own in-house currency “Will”. Every single employee has in-house currency and the balance of payments will be reflected in their bonus. Tasks to employees are not assigned by bosses but are decided via public subscription or auction by setting a price in in-house currency. That has resulted in a positive circle to increase self-motivated employees in the aim of earning Will. His thorough establishment of mechanism enabled to create an environment generating employees’ motivation.

Nikkei Business 50th Anniversary Special Award

Mr.Yasukane Matsumoto, CEO, Raksul Inc.

Mr.Matsumoto has introduced the idea of “Sharing Economy” in the printing industry to match users with printers having low operating rate machines. It enables users to reduce printing cost but also printers to improve their capacity utilization. Now the idea of sharing has been introduced in the logistics industry. The service enables companies who do not own trucks to ask delivery to other partner companies having excess capacity.

Nikkei xTECH Award

Mr.Masahiro Shima, Chairman, Shima Seiki Mfg. Ltd.

Mr.Shima invented “Wholegarment”, a knitting machine that enables sterical knitting of a knitted product such as sweaters and cardigans. It eliminates postprocess including cutting and sewing and allows to reduce fabric losses. Since its launch 20 years ago, it has been supported mainly by high-end apparels, and more recently its application has expanded to mass brands including Fast Retailing and ZOZO. It now boosts the realization of “mass customization” to make tailored products to fit users’ figure and preference.

Nikkei xTREND Award

Kizuna AI, VTuber (Virtual YouTuber)

(Agent: Takeshi Osaka, CEO, Active8 Inc.)

Kizuna AI is “VTuber (Virtual YouTuber)” acting in video site “YouTube”. She appeared in 2016, using the existing technology including VR (virtual reality) and motion capture and is understood to be a key player of VTuber boom in 2018. Despite of her appearance as a digital character, she has been expanding activities and expression and various companies and local governments are watching her for new business chances to use as a walking billboard or a star, and to develop new character business.

Nikkei Business Raise Award

Mr.Shinya Kobayashi, CEO, Farmnote Holdings Inc.

Mr.Kobayashi has introduced IoT (Internet of Things) to the livestock and dairy businesses where farmers used to rely on their experiences and intuitions. He developed the cloud-based control system that enables central management with smartphones to collect and analyze the health data by detecting with a sensor any changes of cattle’s physical condition such as a heat, etc. It helped to reduce risks and enhance productivity at the production sites of wagyu and milk cows which require substantial initial investment and careful health control.

[ Selection Criteria ]

* Excluding Nikkei Business Raise Award

A prospective winner must exhibit originality in his/her idea, ability to put the idea into action, and potential to significantly affect Japanese industries with the idea, as well as a certain level of results already made. Individuals of any genre, whether he/she is a corporate engineer, academic researcher, or corporate manager, are eligible. In 2019, the 50th anniversary for Nikkei BP and Nikkei Business, we evaluated the achievements in the recent decades and the potential now and in future to make an impact by globally developing Japan originated innovation.

<Points of Evaluation>
  1. Whether the idea has given rise to new and original value born in Japan.
  2. Whether the value has been regarded highly both in Japan and overseas.
  3. Whether it has spurred the country in some way, directly or indirectly. 
<Selection Procedure>

The editorial members of Nikkei Business, Nikkei xTECH, and Nikkei xTREND selected 21 candidates to be nominated for the final selection session held on December 3, 2018.

<Selection Committee >

Chairman:

Hiroshi Komiyama

Chairman, Mitsubishi Research Institute, 28th President, University of Tokyo

Members (the order of Japanese syllabary):

Akie Iriyama

Associate Professor, Waseda Business School (Graduate School of Business and Finance)

Hiroaki Kitano

President & CEO, Director of Research, Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc.

Seiichi Saito

Executive, Rhizomatiks Co., Ltd.

Ken Sakamura

Dean, Information Networking for Innovation and Design, Toyo University

Kinya Tagawa

Director, takram design engineering / Visiting Professor at the Royal College of Art

Chiaki Hayashi

Co-founder and Representative Director, Loftwork Inc.

Mari Matsunaga

Representative, Mari Matsunaga Office

Yoshihiko Miyauchi

Senior Chairman, Orix Corporation

Akira Morikawa

CEO, C Channel Corporation

Eriko Yamaguchi

Representative, Motherhouse Co., Ltd.

Seiichiro Yonekura

Professor of Hosei University Graduate School and Specially-Appointed Professor of Hitotsubashi University

* A winner for each award was selected based on the selection criteria as above, except for Nikkei Business Raise Award. For the detail on Nikkei Business Raise Award, please refer to the news release dated January 18, 2019 (https://www.nikkeibp.co.jp/atcl/newsrelease/corp/20190118_2/).

* The profiles of the award winners are featured serially in the electronic version of Nikkei Business started on January 15, 2019 (https://business.nikkei.com/special/innovators/).

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