OMRON VENTURES Co. to Launch Its First-ever Investment Deal in Agriculture Control Venture Company

May 15, 2015

OMRON VENTURES Co., Ltd. (Chief Executive Officer: Naoshi Ozawa) announced today its decision to invest in Plant Life Systems Inc., a venture company specializing in plant cultivation control systems for horticulture (Headquarters: Yokohama; President: Takayuki Matsuoka) (hereinafter referred to as "PLS"). This is the first investment deal for OMRON VENTURES since its establishment in July 2014. Through funding for PLS, OMRON will promote technology development and verification of commercial feasibility as it strives to make a foray into the field of agriculture control systems.

As the demand for food expands due to increasing global population, there is a growing need for a stable supply of agricultural workers and the means to improve their productivity. In Japan, various regulatory reforms and initiatives to ease regulations are being planned and implemented as the country aims to make its agricultural sector stronger. The objective is to boost the agricultural sector's competitive strength through the consolidation and aggregation of small plots of farmland and the implementation of large-scale farming. Nevertheless, a majority of farms in Japan are still small in scale, and they face difficulties implementing large-scale and intensive farming, as well as facing the issue of aging workers. Farmers are also required to produce high value-added crops by reducing environmental impact as well as securing earnings through the implementation of appropriate distribution and marketing systems. As such, there are increasing expectations for highly industrialized processes and labor-saving measures in all stages of farming, from production to marketing and distribution, promoted through increasing entry in this field by companies from other industries.

Conventionally, PLS has been committed to the development of automobiles and control technology for medical care by drawing on its development technology for numerical analysis software. Through its control technology, the company also offers productivity improvement systems mainly to small-to-medium scale farmers. These include systems designed to assist in the optimization of cultivation as well as to manage plant growth. PLS's sensor system helps improve productivity through optimized production management while also enabling stable production of high value-added agricultural products. Moreover, its control technology has a high compatibility with OMRON's automation solutions, which are based on OMRON's proprietary sensing and control technologies. This promises a high synergetic effect through the combination of technologies possessed by the two companies. PLS also has its own farm, which will streamline feasibility verification while also considerably cutting the time needed for commercialization.

Through funding and business support for PLS, OMRON and PLS will work together on the development of a plant growth prediction and control system, while verifying its commercial feasibility. At the same time, OMRON will share its accumulated business knowledge and technological expertise to assist in PLS's development of a growth control algorithm.

As part of this project, OMRON VENTURES has also opened a pilot farm in Wuxi, China in collaboration with a local firm. The plan is to set up 400 greenhouses on an approximately 200,000 square meter plot of land. Two of these greenhouses have already started operations. The greenhouses will be installed with a total of 30 sensors of six different types, which will be used to detect the growth status of vegetables and fruit as well as the farm's environmental conditions to enable watering and fertilizing at appropriate times. This setup is expected to produce 1.5 to 2 times greater output than conventional styles of farming.

By drawing on OMRON's technological strengths in the area of sensing and control, and through funding for startup ventures, OMRON VENTURES is devoted to nurturing venture firms intended to create new added value. Moreover, OMRON VENTURES will proactively work in partnerships with promising companies, as the company strives to help resolve social challenges around the world.

About OMRON VENTURES Co., Ltd.

  • Name: OMRON VENTURES Co., Ltd.
  • Address: OMRON Corporation headquarters, Shiokoji Horikawa, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8530 Japan
  • Established: July 1, 2014
  • Capital ownership: 100% owned by OMRON Corporation
  • Business lines: Investing in venture companies, business development, and business incubation
  • Target segments: Sensing technologies for security & safety purposes, life sciences, healthcare, biotechnology, IoT, environmental energy, education, agriculture
  • Website: https://www.omron.com/ventures/

About OMRON Corporation

OMRON Corporation is a global leader in the field of automation based on its core technology of sensing and control. OMRON's business fields cover a broad spectrum, ranging from industrial automation and electronic components to automotive electronic components, social infrastructure systems, healthcare, and environmental solutions. Established in 1933, OMRON has about 39,000 employees worldwide, working to provide products and services in more than 110 countries and regions. In the field of industrial automation, OMRON supports manufacturing innovation by providing advanced automation technologies and products, as well as through extensive customer support, in order to help create a better society. For more information, visit OMRON's website at: https://www.omron.com/

Plant Life Systems Inc. Corporate Data

  • Company Name: Plant Life Systems Inc.
  • Representative: Takayuki Matsuoka, President
  • Location: Shin-Yokohama, Kohoku-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan
  • Capital: 38.5 million yen
  • Start of Operations: October 2014
  • Business Lines: Development of new-generation cultivation support systems and cultivation optimization support systems, and plant growth management
Press inquiries
Ayumi Chishiro
Corporate Communications Department
OMRON Corporation
E-mail: ayumi_chishiro@omron.co.jp

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