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Fifteenth Japan Innovators Award: Grand Prize Goes to Project Manager of Seiko Epson

Tokyo – October 25, 2016 - Nikkei Business Publications (President & CEO: Suguru Niinomi; Tokyo) has announced the winners of 15th Japan Innovators Award 2016. Established in 2002, the award aims to stimulate the country by shedding light on unique and innovative individuals. 

The nomination was made from individuals in a broad range of fields, who had breathed new life into Japanese industries by creating new industries and business models, new technologies for the future, and new universal values. The final selection committee was held the other day, and the winners of the Grand Prize, Excellence Award, and Special Award were decided.

The awarding ceremony will take place at 5 p.m. on November 16 (Wed.) at the Prince Room of Grand Prince Hotel Takanawa in Minato-ward of Tokyo.


Grand Prize

Mr. Kazuhiro Ichikawa
PaperLab Business Promotion Project Manager, Seiko Epson Corporation
Mr. Ichikawa has developed an office papermaking system capable of producing new paper from shredded waste paper without the use of water. Financial enterprises and local governments has had to hire contractors to handle disposal of confidential documents, but with PaperLab they will be able to safely dispose documents onsite also leading to saving cost. It can also be expected to be introduced at companies with high environmental awareness. While the system reduces environmental load, it can also make advantage of the goodness of paper in a sustainable way. Currently the size is of a refrigerator for professionals, but in the future there is a possibility that it will become smaller to be incorporated into photocopiers and printers.

Excellence Award

Mr. Shin Sakane
President & CEO, seven dreamers laboratories inc.
Seven dreamers lab claims themselves as “technologists, creating what the world has never seen”. They have developed the world’s first automatic laundry-folding machine “Laundroid” in collaboration with Panasonic and Daiwa House Industry. The company is scheduled to begin taking orders from March 2017, and aim to integrate into a washing machine in the future. With its originally developed image recognition technology and robot arm, it can fold 40 items at one time. Seven dreamers lab has been creating unique innovation products such as a tube-shaped medical device that aids breathing by preventing the obstruction of the airway for sleep apnea syndrome (SAS) patients.

Mr. Jun Nakagawa
President, Nakagawa Masashichi Shoten Co., Ltd.
Mr. Nakagawa is the 13th President of a “Sarashi (hemp fabric)” manufacturer, celebrating its 300 year anniversary this year. He has revitalized traditional Japanese crafts as one independent SPA business. In addition to his directly managed shop "Nakagawa Masashichi Shoten" matching modern life, he has created many hit products with monozukuri (craftsmanship) in cooperation with various companies. Mr. Nakagawa uses their knowledge of consultation in specialized market style as well as ability in brand management to the fullest to revitalize traditional Japanese crafts.

Special Award

Hiroaki Suga Ph.D.
Outside Director Board Member, PeptiDeam Inc.
Professor, Department of Chemistry, Graduate School of Science, The University of Tokyo
Professor Suga have established a technology, which enables the production of highly diverse (trillions) non-standard peptide libraries with high efficiency, for the identification of highly potent and selective hit candidates. There is a potential that the technology and know-how based on an artificial RNA enzyme "Flexizyme" developed through years of basic research, can greatly change the development of new drugs. PeptiDream, which was established to commercialize Professor Suga’s technology has been highly appreciated, and winning the world's leading pharmaceutical companies as their client in succession in the past few years.

Soft Power Award (co-winner)

Mr. Tsunekazu Ishihara, President and Representative Director, The Pokémon Company
Mr. John Hanke, CEO, Niantic
Mr. Ishihara and Mr. Hanke jointly developed the smart phone game app "Pokémon GO". The technology developed by Niantic based on the location-based service and AR (augmented reality), has emerged with the worldview of the Japanese content “Pokémon”. It has marked a smash hit as a social phenomenon all over the world. It is expected to be utilized in business outside gaming, such as attracting consumers to shops and tie-in with tourism industry.

[Selection Criteria]

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.

[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]

Candidates were sought through the Nikkei Business magazine, Nikkei Business Online, and other key medium of Nikkei BP. Of these candidates, 30 people were nominated for final selection.

[Selection Committee] (Honorifics omitted)

Hiroshi Komiyama Chairman, Mitsubishi Research Institute
28th President, the University of Tokyo
Ken Sakamura Professor, the University of Tokyo, Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies
Mari Matsunaga Representative, Mari Matsunaga Office
Yoshihiko Miyauchi Senior Chairman, Orix
Ryo Morikawa Representative Director, C Channel
Seiichiro Yonekura Professor, Institute of Innovation Research, Hitotsubashi University

(Note: Since Ms. Matsunaga is the outside director of Seiko Epson, she has not been a part of the determination of the Grand Prize for Mr. Ichikawa)

Organized by: Nikkei Business Publications
Sponsored by: Daiichi Sankyo

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