The Story of Hitachi: Scaling Success in Social Innovation

Recognizing the "Social Innovation Business" as a catalyst for growth, Hitachi, Ltd. has emerged as a prominent corporate partner of Plug and Play in Tokyo and Silicon Valley.

During our insightful discussions with Hitachi, a company renowned for its unwavering commitment to innovation over an impressive 110-year history, we delved into their strategic approach to investment and collaboration with startups.

  • Multiple
  • 2018
    Year they joined the platform
  • Tokyo & Silicon Valley
  • 4

Scaling Success in Social Innovation

Traditional industrial methods have proven inefficient in tackling the challenges of contemporary society, leaving Hitachi in search of alternative solutions. Recognizing the imperative of a multifaceted approach that embraces startups, they embarked on the path of open innovation to address the diverse and intricate social issues at hand.

Hitachi Circles.001

Hitachi Team

Hitachi’s Innovation Structure

Hitachi employs two divisions to drive open innovation:

  • the Corporate Venturing Office and Hitachi Ventures, serving as the corporate venture capital arm.
  • the Strategy Planning Division, primarily responsible for connecting startups with business units.

The Corporate Venturing Office consists of 10 members in Japan, three overseas. Approximately 20 individuals globally within Hitachi Ventures, a dedicated team in charge of investment.

On the other hand, the Strategy Planning Division is responsible for business development in the Digital Systems & Services Sector. Its mission is to bring the seeds of new businesses, including technologies and business models, into the company through collaboration with startups that are the starting points of innovation. The members are five from Japan and two from Silicon Valley.

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The Corporate Venturing Office focuses on long-term collaborations with startups to address enduring social issues, while the Strategy Planning Division takes charge of shorter-term business challenges.

Hitachi Office

“After the reverse pitch, the startups made proposals for collaboration in response to what the division had proposed. This was a very good new learning experience. We feel that this was the best part of the reverse pitch supported by Plug and Play.”

Kiyoshi Kumagai
Senior Manager, Innovation Marketing Department, Corporate Venturing Office, Innovation Growth Strategy Division,
Hitachi, Ltd.

Hitachi's Collaboration with EverImpact

Hitachi is collaborating with EverImpact, a startup based in France. Their group company Hitachi Systems asked Plug and Play to find a startup that meets their innovation theme of "Green x Digital."

EverImpact utilizes satellite and ground sensor data to visualize greenhouse gas emissions and provides a platform for carbon credit certification and trading. Hitachi and EverImpact conducted a PoC to calculate the amount of carbon credits generated by combining the visualization of CO2 absorption in forests and the formulation of forest plans.

Based on the results of the PoC, they plan to launch a new business that provides comprehensive support to municipalities, forest cooperatives, and forest holding companies, from the creation of carbon credits to their trading.

Hitachi Circle.001


  • 2018: Joined Plug and Play Japan’s program
  • 2019: Started Special Interest Group Initiative
  • 2022: Introduced EverImpact through Plug and Play’s platform
  • 2023: Started PoC with EverImpact
  • 2025: Expected to launch a new service utilizing the result of PoC with EverImpact

Diving into Hitachi's Open Innovation Strategy

Hitachi’s Objectives

  • Join a comprehensive innovation platform that allows them to reach out to diverse industries as The Hitachi Group has a wide range of business areas, from digital solutions to infrastructure to industrial manufacturing.
  • Utilize Plug and Play’s accumulated knowledge and experience in working with startups and driving open innovation.
  • Access to the cross-industry innovation platform to gain insights from other corporate partners to cultivate ideas and exchange best practices.

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Partnership Outcomes

  • Hitachi hosted an in-house open innovation initiative called Special Interest Group (SIG), which involved more than 220 people from 28 divisions. The members will work for about six months to find new business opportunities through dialogue with startups that Plug and Play introduced.
  • SIG hosted a reverse pitching and networking event with 15 startups from 7 countries.
  • Hitachi won the Corporate Innovation Award at Plug and Play Japan’s Summit in 2020 and 2021.
  • Hitachi started a PoC with EverImpact to launch a new service to monitor forests to optimize their health, impact, and carbon value in Japan.

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