Interview07

  • Aomori Prefectural Industrial Technology Research Center
    Industrial Research Institute, Electronic Information Technology Department
    General Research Supervisor (Department Manager)

The Aomori Prefectural Industrial Technology Research Center,
Industrial Research Institute: Outline

The IoT Development Support Laboratory was completed on the site of the Industrial Research Institute, Aomori Prefectural Industrial Technology Research Center in October 2018. The laboratory is responsible for the design and creation of prototypes for IoT devices, research and development into state-of-the-art technologies, such as robots, etc. and human resource development in the same field and is proactively involved in assisting companies integrate IoT technologies with existing technologies and support activities for the creation of new industries not only in Aomori, but all over Japan. See below for our interview with Hiroyuki Ono, Electronic Information Technology Department Manager.

Responding to demand from IoT firms

Inaugurated in April 2009 as a local incorporated administrative agency, the Aomori Prefectural Industrial Technology Research Center is a testing and research facility that brings together testing and research institutes within Aomori prefecture in the area of agriculture and forestry, fisheries, food production and industry. The Industrial Research Institute located here in Aomori city has been involved in research into information technology, automatic control systems, measurement and evaluation technologies and system control technologies, etc.

Over the course of this research, we were approached by businesses in Aomori and in 2014, set up the Aomori IoT Working Group. Manufacturers, IT businesses and universities, etc. from Aomori participate in this group, holding study sessions and training programs that examine new manufacturing technologies and services utilizing IoT. To date, a lot of these ended as simple study sessions and training programs. However, based on demand from participants for an environment that enabled startups looking to utilize IoT and manufacturers to work together, we established the IoT Development Support Laboratory with funding from the FY2016 Regional Revitalization Grant offered by the Cabinet Office of Japan in order to establish the necessary framework to provide on-going technical support.

  • Aomori Prefectural Industrial Technology Research Center

  • Entrance to the IoT Development Support Laboratory

Establishing an integrated and on-going support framework

While construction of the laboratory was completed in March 2018, due to budget restraints, equipment in the laboratory at the time was limited to design equipment. However, as a result of the Startup Factory, we have been able to incorporate high-resolution 3D printers and 3D scanners, adding simulation, prototype production and evaluation functions to our design capabilities, enabling us to provide an environment for integrated and ongoing testing from the product concept phase right through to the production of product prototypes.

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  • High-resolution 3D printer

  • Samples created using high-resolution 3D printer

Since the opening of the IoT Development Support Laboratory in October, it has already been used by approximately 10 startups from both in and outside the prefecture in two months and this has re-established the strong demand for such facilities and support. The Startup Factory has resulted in increased communication between the four participants (Startup Factory Tohoku) from the Tohoku Region, which have started a liaison group, providing feedback on the needs of startups. Through discussions among this group, we are looking at measures to revitalize manufacturing among startups in the Tohoku region and to attract more venture firms. The IoT Development Support Laboratory allows us to provide more support to startups in the form of testing, trial production and lending them the necessary equipment. We can also introduce them not only to firms within the prefecture, but also other startups in the Tohoku region to assist them to make it to the mass production stage.

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Actively promoting initiatives with startups in the Tohoku region

The IoT Development Support Laboratory offers advice to companies and startups with an interest in IoT and companies and startups that have an interest, but don’t know how to get started. The laboratory is also helping to promote the introduction of IoT into smart factories and smart agriculture in Aomori and is in need of new information from startups to help accelerate discussions. With the recent introduction of a range of new equipment and facilities to the laboratory, we hope to further promote activities of the Aomori IoT Working Group to assist such initiatives. In the years to come, we hope to invite more external lecturers to our training programs and meetings, etc. to further promote activities to assist startups both in Aomori and all over Japan. While the firms that have come to us to date have primarily been located within Aomori, through the recent subsidized project, we believe we have enhanced our appeal to firms and startups outside the prefecture and hope that will encourage more of them to make use of our facilities.

Send an inquiry to the Aomori Prefectural Industrial Technology Research Center