Last year, NGK Spark Plug’s technical specialists in the field of automotive parts and advanced technical ceramics passed under the sign of meetings with potential business partners. Three platforms were involved in the discussion of technological achievements — venture laboratories located in Tokyo (Japan), in the Silicon Valley (in the vicinity of San Jose, USA) and in Paris (France).
Venture laboratories NGK Spar Plug are built according to the latest architecture. They are designed for creative search, joint creative work of specialists in the field of technical developments and demonstration of achievements in the field of innovative products. The laboratory includes exhibition space, cafes and places to discuss ideas and opinions. Also here on the demonstration tables are the main technological developments and the latest innovative products — from spark plugs, sensors and semiconductors to solid-state batteries, solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC), artificial bones and technical exhibition in the format of augmented reality (AR) for iPad (tablet). Futuristic concepts and ideas are presented in the form of huge large-scale projections on the walls.
According to Damien Jerma, the President of the EMEA Region, President and Director General of NGK Spark Plug Europe, Venture Laboratories are a global initiative to become one of the key sources of future development and expansion of the enterprise. «Currently, the automotive industry is experiencing a new stage. These changes are due to globalization, electrification, digitalization, competition and environmental standards. In this regard, we want to contribute to the development of a sustainable society by creating new enterprises in sectors with growth potential. This is the production of new vehicles, and medicine, and ecoenergetics. Our venture laboratories help us in achieving this goal, «says Jerma. The key element of the concept is to attract the discussion and research of already existing companies, as well as startups and other interested parties.
Craig Tibbets, Vice-President of the Venture Laboratory NGK Spark Plug Inc., applies it in practice in a silicon valley. «A venture laboratory is much more than just physical objects,» he confirms. — In addition, this is an organization under NGK Spark Plug, whose mission is to develop new business pillars through cooperation and partnership. Our group is engaged in this, acting as a channel interaction of startups with our company. «
There are no cases when the companies already consisted of companies lose the flexibility of thinking and refuse new ideas. In the search for the best original solutions, it is necessary to bring something new from different geographic regions.
The company has been searching for places with a well-developed business ecosystem, well-known mechanisms for supporting venture startups — «accelerators» (for scaling existing enterprises) and «incubators» (nourish innovation for their growth).
«That’s why we chose a silicon valley, Paris and Tokyo,» says Damien Jerma. — In all these places — a huge number of innovative enterprises and advanced universities attracting talents and creative abilities from around the world. «
The concept of Venture Lab gives another advantage: it brings fruit due to speed. «Often innovations are perceived as a slow process, but the ideas offered in our venture laboratories can work quickly. Since we complement our own technology and skills by external resources, we can create new investment enterprises very quickly. If the project will seem interesting to us, we can make a decision on the same day! » — says Jerma.
NGK Spark Plug has gained serious experience in applying innovative solutions in new areas. The company is engaged in the development of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) — promising and sustainable alternative electricity generation system, and in 2019 it announced the creation of an innovative joint venture with other specialists in order to successfully commercialize SOFC (SOFC). «Each selected initiative,» summarizes Damien Jerma, «must comply with some general criteria. In all these initiatives, our technical nookhau should be used. Obviously, our venture laboratories already play an invaluable role in this process. «