Sojitz Corporation


Business Alliance with The NanoBusiness Alliance in the US

Mar. 7, 2003

TOKYO(March 7, 2003)--Nissho Iwai subsidiary Nissho Iwai Research Institute, Ltd. (NIRI; Head Office: 2-3-1 Daiba Minato-Ku, Tokyo; President: Makoto Sunagawa) has formed an alliance with the NanoBusiness Alliance (NbA), the largest association in the US in which nano-related companies/research institutes participate, and aims to establish a 12-billion-yen nanotechnology business in the future with a focus mainly on Japanese companies.

[NanoBusiness Alliance (NbA)]
The NanoBusiness Alliance, a research and development nonprofit organization, founded in 2001 and headquartered in New York City, is dedicated to the commercialization of nanotechnology. The NbA membership comprises about 1,000 US-centric enterprises, venture companies, venture capitalists, and universities/research institutes. The organization's major activities are provision of the latest nano-business information, the conducting of market surveys, attracting quality companies, holding of nano events, provision of support for venture start-ups, the matching of large-sized businesses and venture companies, and lobbying activities (offering of recommendations for national strategies for nanotechnology in the US). In addition, NanoBusiness Alliance Consulting (NBAC), the NbA affiliated consulting firm, undertakes consulting services in response to requests from and in relation to individual administrative organs and companies. As the premier consultant in the US nanotechnology industry, NBAC has a number of clients such as government offices, leading companies and venture companies, etc.

In the field of nanotechnology, technological development is often technology- rather than market-propelled, which results in a situation where it is difficult to see the real business picture in a concrete manner. Thereon, those who are involved in nano-business (entrepreneurs, researchers, politicians, intellectual-property-administrators, lawyers, etc.) have established an extensive 'information hub' and 'network'. The alliances formed by means of this information hub and network become compelling engines to evolve nano-science into nano-business. In the US, the government takes this approach hand-in-hand with the private sector, with the NbA playing the central role.

[Nissho Iwai Research Institute, Ltd. (NIRI)] 
Nissho Iwai Research Institute, Ltd. was founded in April 2002, as a Nissho Iwai Group subsidiary, from its predecessor the Nissho Iwai Business Strategy Center, which was the research unit of the Nissho Iwai Corporation. NIRI performs both think-tank and consulting services.

Focusing on Nissho Iwai Group client companies, NIRI cites as its consulting business the commercialization of unique technologies owned by small and medium enterprises and universities/research institutes across Japan, the establishment of collaborative projects involving industry, government and academia for application development for such technologies, and the provision of support services such as intellectual property management. Moreover, the company assesses the types of technology for which society and industry require application development, mainly from the viewpoint of product and technology logistics, and meets the internal and external needs of the Nissho Iwai Group by gathering the technology, funds and partners required for respective application development. In addition to providing consulting services to private enterprises as a matter of course, NIRI has also participated in technology development business for the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan, NEDO, and various industry support organizations.

[Collaboration between NbA and NIRI] 
Many of the unique technologies owned by small and medium size domestic enterprises and universities/research institutes appear to be those from the field of nanotechnology. NIRI has formed a business alliance with the NbA, with an eye to undertaking cross-border application development for such technologies. The NbA sees advantages in a tie-up with NIRI, which undertakes the characteristic domestic consulting activities previously mentioned, in order to expand their network with Japanese technical seed holders, Japanese companies as application developers of European and American technologies, administrative organs/industry support organizations, etc. The NbA believes that Japan, together with the US, will play a key role in the nanotechnology industry, and aims to enter into the Japanese market through this business alliance. Nissho Iwai American Corporation serves as the go-between for this business alliance, which will be pursued with NIRI under Japan-US cooperation. NIRI already has a record of applying seed technologies belonging to Japanese companies, mainly in the field of micro-technology to fuel batteries and bio-analytical instruments. The company has judged that expanding its network to US-based companies/research institutes, which go a step beyond similar Japanese organizations in the area of nanotechnology seed application development, is indispensable to extending such techniques to the field of nanotechnology. Through the business alliance with the NbA, NIRI will first aim to incorporate small and medium domestic enterprise nanotechnology for processing and materials into application development processes that are used by enterprises/research institutes both at home and abroad. The company believes that this will support small and medium Japanese enterprises in moving from manufacturing-driven operations, and shifting over to become companies oriented to R & D. The techniques required for such support, for such things as intellectual property rights strategy, will also be introduced by the NbA/NBAC.  

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