NEC is looking to promote research and development through a new initiative launched in collaboration with a group of tech providers and financial and academic institutions. The new company has been dubbed the BIRD INITIATIVE, and it represents the joint efforts of NEC, the OBAYASHI CORPORATION, Japan Industrial Partners, the Japan Investment Adviser Co., ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation, and AOI Fund 1, which is run by the UTokyo Innovation Platform.
BIRD stands for Business Innovation powered by R&D, and it will advocate for a “Co-creative R&D” framework that will bring government, industrial, and academic interests together to address some of the more pressing issues facing society in a digital era.
To do so, BIRD will first try to identify a problem that needs to be solved. In some cases, the company will use AI simulation to isolate common technology pain points for end users. In other cases, BIRD will act as a consultant, and take on a project on behalf of a client. The simulation process will leverage AI tech from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research, and NEC.
After that, BIRD will assemble a research team to tackle the project and develop a new product that solves the initial problem. That process will also lead to the creation of new start-up companies that will sustain ongoing development and commercialization efforts. BIRD will officially start doing business in October, and hopes to launch six new companies by 2025.
According to NEC, the use of AI simulation will allow BIRD to make better research decisions, and make it easier to coordinate the efforts of organizations with different objectives.
“I’m pleased that we have established a mechanism to translate our research of the NEC-AIST AI Cooperative Laboratory into societal impact,” said AI Research Center Director Tsujii Jun-ichi.
“Simulation, machine learning, and automatic negotiation are areas where collaboration between industry, government, and academia can be very effective, and I expect that the process from development to implementation can be greatly accelerated,” added RIKEN Center for Advanced Intelligence Project Director Sugiyama Masashi.
The news comes shortly after NEC formed a separate R&D partnership with the NTT Corporation that will focus on communications infrastructure. In the meantime, NEC has been working to develop contactless technologies for a post-COVID environment, and recently released a new biometric check-in service for hotels.