Seven years after the founding of Hitachi in 1910 by Namihei Odaira, Hitachi established its first research laboratory in 1917. This was the foundation of Hitachi’s Central Research Laboratory which has kept Hitachi in the forefront of technical innovation for the past 100 years. In that same year Hitachi published the first edition of the Hitachi Hyoron technical journal in which technicians published their research results. This publication continues today providing valuable insights into Hitachi’s future technology direction. Today, Hitachi research publications can be found at this website http://www.hitachi.com/rd/
In the past, research has been measured by the number of patents that have been filed and Hitachi has consistently ranked among the companies with the highest number of patents. Innovation strategies for the most part concentrated on processes and products with the objectives of producing quality products at a low price, and building products with novel performance and functions. In the Hitachi Review published in July of 2015, Hitachi reveled a new direction for research which is measured less on the number of patents and more on business outcomes that support our Social Innovation strategy. The goal is now to build the future by working with customers to deal with the challenges facing society on a global basis. Hitachi believes there is a need to consider research and development from the perspectives of customers and business in this new age of digital transformation.
In response to the need for digital transformation and the focus on business outcomes, Hitachi’s R&D group was reorganized along three strategic axes.
The Center for Exploratory Research CER, is focused 10 to 20 years into the future and is pure research. The Center for Technology Innovation CTI is focused on technologies that drive business outcomes, and the Global Center for Social Innovation CSI is focused on co-creation of services and solutions with customers and collaborating partners.
In addition to the CSI lab in Tokyo, four CSI labs were established around the world to facilitate regional collaboration with customers. CSI labs are located in APAC, China, Europe, and the Americas. CSI Americas has locations in Santa Clara, Detroit, and Brazil, with the biggest facility in Santa Clara, in the heart of Silicon Valley.
While the number of patents has declined in the past year the quality and focus of Hitachi’s patents has increased and has resulted in market leadership.
More importantly this approach has accelerated social innovations in healthcare, transportation, energy, and public safety. Many of the new innovations today have their roots in the vision-driven exploratory basic research of the past. For instance, Hitachi filed a blockchain patent in 2003 under the title “Hysteresis signature research” five years before the introduction of Bitcoin. While the customer facing part of Hitachi research is now the Centers for Social innovation, Hitachi still maintains its centers for exploratory research CER, and technology innovation CTI which feed into CSI.
To learn more about Hitachi Social Innovation, Hitachi Research and see demonstrations of some IoT projects, signup to join us at the NEXT 2017 event in Las Vegas, September 18 – 20. The theme of this event is “Lead What’s Next”. Better outcomes. Better business. Better society.
We will have a number of researchers speaking, like Dr Yano, Hitachi Chief Scientist, speaking on Artificial Intelligence and David Pinski, Chief Strategist for Financial Innovation and Head of the Financial Innovation Laboratory in CSI Americas speaking on Blockchain. We will also have developers and business leaders who have translated Hitachi research projects like Finger Vein biometric authentication into business outcomes.