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Mitsui to Invest in AI Company Preferred Networks, Inc.

Dec. 11, 2017


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Mitsui & Co., Ltd. ("Mitsui", Head Office: Tokyo, President and CEO: Tatsuo Yasunaga) has invested approximately ¥500 million to subscribe to a third-party allotment of new shares by Preferred Networks, Inc. ("PFN", Head Office: Tokyo, President and CEO: Toru Nishikawa). PFN develops and supplies artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, including deep learning technology.

With the advent of the IoT/big data society, industrial structures are being transformed on a global scale by AI and other digital technologies. In its new Medium-term Management Plan, "Driving Value Creation", which was announced in May 2017, Mitsui presented the "The Sustained Creation of New Value" as its vision for the future. As stated in the plan, Mitsui positions advancing digital transformation (DT) initiatives, utilizing AI and the IoT, as a vital measure for reinforcing its innovation capabilities.

Also, in May 2017, Mitsui created the new executive position of Chief Digital Officer (CDO) and newly established the DT Team (*) within its Corporate Planning & Strategy Div. Mitsui is working to raise its consolidated earning performance through the company-wide implementation of cross-organizational DT activities, with the aim of optimizing the operating efficiency, maximizing added value of its global business assets, and creating new business.

To drive these initiatives effectively, Mitsui regards securing world-class AI engineers as a priority matter and partnering with a company with highly advanced AI technology as an integral part of its digitalization strategy. Accordingly, Mitsui has invested in PFN, which is a leading company in this field. While supporting the growth of PFN, Mitsui will use PFN's deep learning technology to solve issues affecting its business partners, customers, and Mitsui group's global business assets in a wide range of industries. Mitsui also aims to create business under a recurring business model with the use of next-generation AI. Through its partnership with PFN, Mitsui will gain practical knowledge about cutting-edge AI technologies, and also undertake human resource development initiatives to train people to utilize AI and formulate business.

This project is the 16th under the Business Innovation Project framework established by Mitsui in October 2012. The Business Innovation Project framework, exempt from some of the investment and withdrawal criteria set within the company, is designed to support, from a long-term perspective, new business endeavors, such as the acquisition of R&D capabilities and participation in new business fields.

(*) The DT Team gathers and accumulates operation know-how and technology from Mitsui's business frontline units as data, and analyzes and controls this data by AI and other digital technologies. In this capacity, it acts as a control tower for enhancing the operating efficiency of and adding value to business assets, as well as to lead the company in creating new business. The DT Team consists of some 25 team members (some holding concurrent posts), mainly from the Business Innovation Department of the Corporate Planning & Strategy Division, as well as from the Information Technology Promotion Div., the IT & Communication Business Unit, and Mitsui Knowledge Industry Co., Ltd.

About Preferred Networks, Inc.

Founded in March 2014 with the aim of promoting business utilization of deep learning technology focused on IoT, PFN advocates Edge Heavy Computing as a way to handle the enormous amounts of data generated by devices in a distributed and collaborative manner at the edge of the network, driving innovation in various fields, with a focus on three business areas: transportation, manufacturing, and bio/healthcare. PFN develops and provides Chainer®, an open source deep learning framework. PFN promotes advanced initiatives by collaborating with world leading organizations, such as Toyota Motor Corporation, FANUC CORPORATION, and the National Cancer Center. (https://www.preferred-networks.jp/en/)

Preferred Networks, Inc. website

Notice:
This announcement contains forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based on Mitsui's current assumptions, expectations and beliefs in light of the information currently possessed by it and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors. Such risks, uncertainties and other factors may cause Mitsui's actual results, financial position or cash flows to be materially different from any future results, financial position or cash flows expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. These risks, uncertainties and other factors referred to above include, but are not limited to, those contained in Mitsui's latest Annual Securities Report and Quarterly Securities Report, and Mitsui undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements.
This announcement is published in order to publicly announce specific facts stated above, and does not constitute a solicitation of investments or any similar act inside or outside of Japan, regarding the shares, bonds or other securities issued by us.

Information

For inquiries on this matter, please contact

Mitsui & Co., Ltd.
Corporate Communications Division
Hiroyuki Sakanaka
Telephone: +81-3-3285-7618
Facsimile: +81-3-3285-9819