How to Create Innovation Through Collaboration

Ton de Weijer, Teijin Group Corporate Officer and General Manager at Material Technology Center, discusses innovation through collaboration and the impact this will have on boosting sustainability.

Teijin is leading the way with #collaboration with plenty of partnerships enriching various industries and markets with new and exciting developments in their respective fields.

An example of this essential cross-working in the real world is opening locations such as European Sustainable Technology Innovation Center (ESTIC). Teijin is eager to learn from the open #innovation culture in place there to boost the further development of collaboration with innovation to make society more #sustainable.

A core objective of ESTIC is to facilitate collaboration between European researchers and Teijin to develop initiatives and push for innovation. Becoming a leading research and development facility in developing technologies for a more sustainable world has driven progress in many areas.

Teijin, as is the case with other companies in the industry, had traditionally been focused on doing all research in-house with independent thinking being commonplace – this in turn limiting the knowledge and skills available to us. But with the collaboration now possible in this technology center, Teijin took the opportunity to lead innovation in a new direction.

Becoming part of the sustainability study in Europe has been on Teijin’s radar since the centenary anniversary in 2018. A big part of the next 100 years of Teijin focuses on the THINK HUMAN PROJECT, where nine research programs are looking beyond the traditional boundaries of chemistry to create the solutions of the future.

Ton de Weijer led “Clean 2 Antarctica (C2A)”, one of these projects – with a focus on #sustainability. In this project we partnered with Edwin A. ter Velde, a Dutch adventurist. His mission was to make a 2,400 km journey in a 3D printed no-waste, no emission solar-powered vehicle to the geographical south pole. We took responsibility for designing and developing the tires of the solar vehicle. It is one of the most crucial challenges since it had deliver a low rolling resistance and traction but at the same time has to withstand the harsh conditions of the Antarctica climate. It is an experiment with clean technology and a model for collaboration.

Ton says, “I was curious about the ‘process to get there’ and my team got involved in Edwin’s journey. I had to promise Edwin I would not give up or quit before he does. We had success and we also failed many times. The perseverance of Edwin kept us going and giving up was no option…. Only later I realized that most important success factor was the mindset for innovation; Edwin summarized it as Embrace Discomfort, Dare to Jump, Be Actionable and Playful, Dare to Fail”.

This learning stimulated Ton to set-up new ways to collaborate in the new European Innovation Center.

Sharing knowledge and developing solutions together with European minds has allowed the creation of sustainable technology on site. Teijin is keen to show their working methods and share the power of the ever-trusted Japanese knowledge in this field. Ton de Weijer is leading the conversations despite the way that people work together in Europe being different from Japan. Teijin is so keen to continue to develop operations to truly experience how it works for the greater good of a sustainable society.

Previously, it has taken typically ten to fifteen years to develop a new material fully using an in-house working method. Without the access to external knowledge, skills and collaboration it is nowadays impossible to respond to the urgent demand for technological advancement.

With such pressure on manufacturers to create a more sustainable world and achieve such vast technological advancements, collaboration is allowing for visions to become a reality. Teijin is proud to be leading the way to an innovative future through collaboration across the globe. By using Japan’s position as a leader in these developments and combining research with the European Sustainable Technology Innovation Center, Teijin has created the ultimate synergy and is paving the way for sustainable developments.

Ton de Weijer, Teijin Group Corporate Officer and General Manager at Material Technology Center,


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