Innovation Exchange is an event to create new businesses through open innovation, making technical proposals, collaboration proposals and so on to match the needs by global companies.
For the fourth Innovation Exchange, Tsutomu Takatsuka, director of Health Science Research Institute, Sunstar Inc. explained the technical needs of their company.
Sunstar Inc. now has four business units such as Mouth & Body Care, Health & Beauty Care, Environment & Amenity and Safety Support & High Technology.
Sunstar is best remembered for its oral care products, but in fact, their origin is rubber glue for bicycles. They used to sell the glue in the metal tubes when they started a business. Using the techniques to make tubes by punching out steel sheets for mass production, they worked on the development of bicycle gears, sprockets and brake discs for motorcycle, by which 70 percent of sprockets of a major U.S. motorbike manufacturer is now produced by Sunstar. In addition, using the techniques of rubber glue, they developed and sell adhesives for bicycles and houses. Tsukamoto kindly shared a secret story why they thought of making toothpaste tube – they made it because of an excess amount of steel tubes. Sunstar has been developing products combining technologies in this way. They have a base in Takatsuki city of Osaka but they are a global company headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
Why do they go for the open innovation?
At Sunstar, they have been addressing technology development. Many companies have opportunities of open innovations for developing electronic components and manufacturing but few companies actually tried one for oral care products. By getting ahead of others in this type of collaboration, they want to share the joy of consumers. That is how the open innovation was realized this time. It is thought that oral care has room for utilizing technologies of other fields. The technical needs were explained focusing on ideas about oral care and point leading to innovation for this time. 21 items of technologies were explained such as antiseptic materials for periodontal disease, tooth cavity remineralization, and bad breath prevention, hyperesthesia assessment, teeth-whitening technology, and sialagogic material. About 90 participants were seen taking notes eagerly on those technical needs explanations at the site.