Mitsui is investing about ¥500 million to subscribe to a third-party allotment of new shares by AI technology provider Preferred Networks, Inc.
Japanese companies, including financial giants, have been among the leaders in adopting and supporting artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. One more example of this trend was provided today, as Mitsui & Co Ltd (TYO:8031) announces an investment into Preferred Networks, Inc (PFN), a company that specializes in AI technology development and provision, with the focus being on deep learning.
Mitsui says it has invested approximately ¥500 million to subscribe to a third-party allotment of new shares by Preferred Networks, Inc.
Mitsui recognizes that with the advent of the IoT/big data society, industrial structures are being transformed on a global scale by AI and other digital technologies. In its new Medium-term Management Plan, “Driving Value Creation”, which was announced in May 2017, Mitsui presented the “The Sustained Creation of New Value” as its vision for the future. As stipulated in the plan, Mitsui positions advancing digital transformation (DT) initiatives, utilizing AI and the IoT, as a key measure for reinforcing its innovation capabilities.
Also, in May 2017, Mitsui established a new executive position – that of Chief Digital Officer (CDO). Mitsui notes that it is working to raise its consolidated earning performance through company-wide implementation of cross-organizational DT activities, as it seeks to optimize the operating efficiency, maximize the added value of its global business assets, and create new business.
To drive these initiatives effectively, Mitsui considers securing world-class AI engineers as a priority matter and partnering with a company with highly advanced AI technology as an integral part of its digitalization strategy. Accordingly, Mitsui has invested in PFN.
While supporting the growth of PFN, Mitsui will use PFN’s deep learning technology to solve issues affecting its business partners, customers, and Mitsui group’s global business assets in a wide range of industries. Mitsui also aims to create business under a recurring business model with the use of next-generation AI.
Thanks to its partnership with PFN, Mitsui aims to gain practical knowledge about cutting-edge AI technologies, and also to undertake human resource development initiatives to train people to utilize AI and formulate business.
This project is the 16th under the Business Innovation Project framework launched by Mitsui in October 2012. The Business Innovation Project framework aims to support, from a long-term perspective, new business endeavors, such as the acquisition of R&D capabilities and participation in new business fields.
In April this year, Mitsui announced the acquisition of an equity stake in GRID Inc., a developer and provider of AI technology. The company noted back then the growth of the Internet of Things had resulted in the gathering and storage of operational data in a variety of industrial sectors, and there was a growing need to analyze this data. Mitsui has been quick to identify this need, and is seeking to further develop its initiatives to provide IoT solutions to industry by entering into a capital alliance with GRID, which possesses AI core technology.