Accelerating the creation of new value
Capturing the Ever-Changing Needs of Society to Accelerate Innovation
Modern society is changing at an unbelievable pace due to a variety of factors.
To ensure that we can quickly discover the problems and needs that arise and offer solutions,
Kubota is promoting open innovation with partners including companies
in other industries, universities, and research institutes.
By combining the expertise and technologies
Kubota has cultivated over the years with cutting-edge technologies
from different fields and industries, chemical reactions can occur, and we can generate new value
in the form of products and businesses that anticipate future changes.
Through open innovation, we will proactively collaborate with partners outside the company and accelerate innovation
that can quickly respond to global changes.
Envisioning Kubota’s Open Innovation
With the growing global population and the increasing severity of global warming, the issues the world faces are expected to become more diverse and more complex. Solving these globally expanding issues will require creation of new value unlike any before, and with faster speed than ever. To make this possible, Kubota is promoting open innovation, which will bolster collaboration with partners outside the company, from startup firms to universities and research institutions. There are many partners throughout the world with advanced technologies that will have a tremendous impact on society in the future. We will combine our expertise and technology with their leading technologies to pioneer the development of solutions and businesses that address issues that are likely to arise.
Kubota’s Vision for Open Innovation
From here onward, Kubota will proactively utilize the latest technologies, including ICT and AI, to create new value in the fields of food, water, and the environment. In the food sector, we aim to go beyond our existing business domains focused on crop production to provide total solutions that support the food value chain, which encompasses the entire scope of agricultural production from purchasing to processing, sales, and consumption.
What is important for pursuing these goals is collaboration with partners outside the company, including startups, universities, and research institutes. Through open innovation, Kubota intends to accelerate smart technologies in crop production and expand operations upstream and downstream in the food value chain, along with realization of an agri-platform as a company responsible for connecting all partners across the chain. In doing so, we contribute to the entire food production system.
About the Agri-Platform
This is a new concept in which all partners in the food value chain, including farmers, will exchange information, products, and services on a single platform, thereby contributing to improvement in agricultural productivity. In addition to strengthening the our existing business related to the production of agricultural products, Kubota will expand its business in the area of production to sales, and processing to sales, aiming to provide total solutions to support the whole food value chain.
Open Innovation Initiatives
Kubota's initiatives for open innovation in agriculture have already begun. In areas such as fruit growing, where mechanization is still behind, we are collaborating with start-up firms that have advanced technologies to provide a sharing service that anticipates the issues farmers will face in the near future due to the higher performance of agricultural machinery. This is one of the ways we have begun our steady progress toward realizing the future of farming.
Working with an American start-up to build a platform for “farm management” to support fruit growers
The need for efficient farm management is especially rising among fruit, vegetable, grape, and nut growers. Focusing on innovation in these areas, Kubota is working with FarmX, Inc., a U.S.-based start-up that provides crop management services using cutting-edge technology, to build a farm management platform. This platform provides data, analysis, and predictions, and uses AI, machine learning and IoT sensors to centrally manage operations from procurement of materials and seeds to harvesting and pruning. The solution contributes to farmers' profitability by increasing yields while reducing labor costs, water, and electricity consumption. By leveraging FarmX’s technology and solutions, Kubota aims to support the farm management efficiency and profitability in the U.S.
Demonstration of technology for autonomous orchard farming systems using drones and IoT
Fruit growing is one area of farming that offers enormous growth potential as it has yet to be fully mechanized. By combining its mechanical technologies with advanced fruit-growing technologies, Kubota is working with Dutch start-up Aurea Imaging on demonstrations of automation solutions for fruit growing systems.
Aurea combines data from drones and IoT sensors with AI to provide services such as yield prediction and soil mapping for fruit growers. By combining this advanced sensing technology with Kubota's agricultural machinery for orchards, we will verify the feasibility of providing comprehensive fruit growing solutions.
Trial operations for an agricultural machinery sharing service
In recent years, cutting-edge technologies have made agricultural machinery more functional. At the same time, the purchase of such equipment has become a barrier for new farmers and those expanding their operations. With the conviction that solving this issue will help increase the number of farmers, Kubota has begun a trial for a machinery sharing service in some parts of Japan. In order to provide this sharing system that allows several farmers to share agricultural machinery, through this trial, we will identify and verify issues ranging from moving agricultural machinery to the maintenance services before and after use, and proceed with preparations for full-fledged service.
Our Activities to Support Open Innovation
Pushing forward with open innovation requires bolstering our network of partners outside of our own company. Kubota is moving to be among the first in embracing cutting-edge technologies through participation in programs that further partnerships with startups in Europe and the U.S., as well as through our work with international agricultural organizations.
Participation in a U.S. accelerator program
To accelerate open innovation in the agricultural sector, it is vital for us to engage in partnerships with startups in the AgTech field. We therefore decided in 2019 to join the THRIVE Accelerator Program run by the American firm SVG Ventures. Through our participation in the program, which has wide and deep linkages with players in this field, we intend to further strengthen our coordination with numerous players, including start-ups, research institutes, and universities, and accelerate open Innovation.
Leading the development of a platform for electrification and electronic control of agricultural machinery as a core member of the Agriculture Industry Electronics Foundation
In February 2020, Kubota was elected as a core member of the Agricultural Industry Electronics Foundation (AEF), an international organization dedicated to technological innovation and standardization of the electronic transformation process for agricultural equipment. The AEF currently has 11 core members and about 200 general members, and Kubota is the first Japanese agricultural manufacturer to be elected as a core member. The organization aims to build a platform for electrification and electronic control of agricultural machinery that transcends manufacturer boundaries. As a core member, Kubota will play a leading role in AEF activities and contribute to the development of the global agricultural machinery industry.
Establishment of a satellite office at Wageningen University & Research (The Netherlands), a global authority on agricultural research
In 2020, a satellite office for Kubota Innovation Center Europe, Kubota’s open innovation promotion arm in Europe, was established on the campus of Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands. In collaboration with the Wageningen University Research Center, a global authority on agricultural research, this satellite office will engage in projects to study the acquisition of cutting-edge technologies related to smart agriculture in the EU, automation of agricultural machinery, and use of agricultural data to further promote smart agriculture research.
Partnership Signed with Dutch Agrifoodtech Accelerator
In April 2021, Kubota Innovation Center Europe signed a partnership agreement with StartLife, a Dutch accelerator that supports the development and growth of Foodtech and Agtech startups. The alliance with StartLife, which has supported over 400 startups and contributed to the agrifoodtech industry since its establishment more than 10 years ago, will allow Kubota Innovation Center Europe to collaborate with various corporate partners, such as on identifying challenges farmers face, generating new ideas, or implementing demonstration projects, and to accelerate open innovation.