株式会社 RIDGE-I リッジアイ

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[Press release] Ridge-i, Inc. Receives 750 million JPY Capital Injection for Development of AI Solutions in Manufacturing. Partnership with Ebara Corp. and Ricoh Company, Ltd.

2019.4.4

AI and Deep Learning consulting and development venture Ridge-i, Inc. has been granted a capital injection from public-private fund INCJ, Ltd. In combination with investors, such Ricoh Company, Ltd., for a total investment of 750 million JPY.

 

Business development across three domains accelerated by third-party investments

Ridge-i's mission is to harness the top-tiers of technological development, in partnership with the peak of potential in business and society. This mission is realized mainly through implementation of AI and deep learning solutions in high-impact business situations.

 

In following this mission, we have been able to deliver high-impact results for our clients and society.

  • In collaborative development with Ebara Environmental Plant Co., Ltd (Ota-ku, Tokyo) we have implemented an AI-based, automated garbage sorting crane system.
  • With NHK ART, Inc, we have developed an AI solution that colorizes black-and-white images for broadcasting.
  • Through such projects we realize AI as more than just ideas and experiments. We develop AI solutions based on constant evaluation of actual business and societal needs, and of the latest state of technological limitations in AI.
  • At Ridge-i, we not only tackle challenges brought to us by our clients. We also initiate our own development projects, leveraging cutting-edge technology to contribute to business and industrial needs.
  • One example is our collaboration with public-private space industry initiatives. We have propose and develop deep-learning based solutions for the analysis of geo-spatial satellite data, through participation in the Tellus*1 satellite data platform.

 

*1: Tellus: A platform enabling analysis and understanding of satellite data, formed by SAKURA internet Inc., through commission by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), and in according with the METI initiative promoting the free and open use of satellite data for provision of environmental services.

 

The present round of funding will be invested in a way to accelerate business development, and develop technological solutions on behalf of society and a growing number of clients. In detail, we were focus on the following 3 domains:

 

1.Accelerating provision of business solutions

  • Expanding existing business

- Deep learning applications specialized for the manufacturing industry

- Hardware and robotics technology for societal impact

- Development of product-solution packages and platforms for deployment

  • AI-oriented business domain development

- Satellite data analysis in alliance with space industry 

 

2.Expanding R&D Projects and Environment

  • Developing techniques for analyzing time series data, and signals from multi-modal data streams, etc.
  • Experimenting with various cutting-edge sensing devices and algorithms
  • Expanding computational resources

 

3.Recruiting and developing excellent human resources

  • Strengthening recruiting potential and selection strategy
  • Fostering a high-performance workforce and working environment

 

 

- Business tie-ups -

As part of this investment, we are embarking on several business co-endeavors with partner companies.

 

  • Ebara Corporation

In collaboration with the Ebara Environmental Plant Co. Ltd, a subsidiary of the Ebara Group, we are developing an AI-based, garbage sorting solution. This technology is intended to fulfill the role currently served by human operators. The primary component is an automated garbage sorting crane system, which has already been successfully tested, and on-site operations have begun.

 

We plan to continue this collaboration, developing solutions not only for Ebara environmental operations, but for the entire Ebara Group. We are planning collaborative development oriented around AI and IoT techniques. These include:

  1. Product quality assurance
  2. Improving operational safety and optimizing efficiency
  3. Optimizing operation scheduling

Through these 3 R&D goals, we are committed to adding significant value to Ebara products and services.

 

  • Ricoh Company, Ltd.

With Ricoh Company, Ltd., we have begun an R&D endeavor leveraging their strengths in optics, image processing techniques, and hardware. We are pair those with our own strengths in AI-based image processing solution development. We are planning a collaborative development of automated digital solutions for product quality assurance. Through such development we are mutually committed to improving our clients' productivity, sales, and streamlining their on-site operations.

 

For the most part, quality assurance, defect detection, operation control depends heavily on human expertise. However, there is a general shortage of such talent in recent years, creating a critical need for automated systems to support limited human resources. We are determined to work together with Ricoh Company, Ltd. to improve this situation.

 

- Comments from partner companies -

 

  • INCJ, Ltd. Chairman and CEO Member of the Board, Toshiyuki Shiga

Japan faces a drastic loss of manufacturing capability due to a shortage of highly skilled workers. To avoid this, a digital revolution driven by IoT, big data, and AI is crucial. Even knowing this however, infrastructure and heavy industry are not making significant advances, for various reasons. We are moving to assist even these field to take advantage of AI-based solutions to meet a variety of business needs. This is not only for the companies themselves but is an essential task if we hope to develop our country's industry.

Even in Ridge-i's short 3-year history, they have already delivered excellent AI solutions for manufacturing and heavy industry. We at INCJ are extremely impressed by their output. For our mutual success and growth, and the realization of Industry 4.0, we have great expectations.

 

  • Ebara, Executive Officer, Division Executive, Corporate Strategic Planning Division, Shu Nagata

The automated garbage sorting crane system, developed in collaboration with Ridge-i, represents an extremely challenging R&D problem. Succeeding took an incredible effort. Ridge-i's CEO Mr. Yanagihara is the heart of the company, but all of the staff surrounding him too share an insatiable curiosity for the task at hand. I realized that they are all aligned in their determination to solve their client's problems while maintaining an honest and sincere stance. With their "Challenge Spirit" Ridge-i confronts cutting edge technical problems in underdeveloped fields, overlapping with Ebara's operation reform goals. This is why I have decided to continue collaboration with Ridge-i as a business partner for our mid and long-term goals. We hope to deliver superior value to our customers, across all of Ebara Group's products and services, utilizing Ridge-i's superior expertise and outstanding solutions.

 

  • Ricoh Company, Ltd., Digital Business Group, General Manager, Masaki Honda

Ridge-i has assembled a team showing rich knowledge in the fields of computer vision and AI system, and deep implementation capability. Above all else is their strong commitment to producing AI solutions that drive real business results for the clients. We share a common vision of bringing-about the next generation of commerce and industry. We at Ricoh are honored to be working with Ridge-i again, through this business and capital alliance, and believe we will again be impressed. Through combination Ridge-i's expertise and experience in AI solution implementation, and our ow company's strengths in optics, image processing, and IoT hardware, we will be able to deliver excellent digital solutions tailored to our mutual clients, streamlining their on-site working style. We are looking forward to working alongside everyone at Ridge-i, to help them grow and expand their horizons, and transform the marketplace together.

 

※Translation of the [original press release] in Japanese

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