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The Moon Platform - Realizing the Shift from "Connecting" to "Creating"

Mitsui & Co. has formulated a long-term business vision that outlines where Mitsui envisions being in the future. This positions Mitsui’s future path as changing from “connecting” to “creating.” In the past, Mitsui’s main function as a trading company was to generate value by connecting enterprises together across a wide range of industries and sectors; however, Mitsui is now evolving to become a company that proactively creates its own businesses. Moon Creative Lab Inc. (Moon) performs the R&D function for Mitsui as a whole, and constitutes a platform that embodies the change from “connecting” to “creating.” Moon was established as an independent company in August 2018, consolidating the operations of Karugamo Works, which had previously been created by Mitsui as part of its strategy to generate new businesses, and Mitsui’s intrapreneurship system. Moon has offices in Silicon Valley, in the US, and in Tokyo.

Moon welcomes business ideas that have the potential to help solve social problems and give Mitsui a major presence in future markets gathered from the Mitsui Group’s 44,000 employees, who have an in-depth understanding of a wide range of industries and products. Working together with the idea owners, Moon sets about creating unique, brand-new products and services. By building up experience through numerous projects of this kind, Moon is developing extraordinary capable business development teams.

Reducing the amount of unhappiness in the world through a new business that makes effective use of AI

Reducing the amount of unhappiness in the world through a new business that makes effective use of AI

Moon is an innovation lab that goes beyond the scope of a conventional trading company by generating completely new businesses. Moon has made it possible for me to be an entrepreneurin-residence (intrapreneur) and start getting a business off the ground while continuing to be a Mitsui employee. Since there are just two of us in the team—the project leader and myself—there are a lot of things that I can do, and also a lot of responsibilities. Day by day, I am learning what it is like to start a business from scratch.

At the moment, we are working on the development of a platform for disease diagnosis services that make effective use of artificial intelligence (AI). Through this project, I believe that we can help to save many lives around the world, by providing faster, less painful, more precise diagnosis.

The AI technology side is being handled by a Mitsui-invested firm that has cutting-edge knowhow in this field; Mitsui is handling the market development and business design, with the aim of rolling out the platform on a global scale, and Moon is playing the role of designing and enhancing the user experience. In starting this business from scratch, we are also receiving support from world-leading design consulting firm IDEO, and through their approach called Design Thinking, I have been able to undertake research interviews with doctors, patients and others, brainstorming sessions to come up with various service concepts reflecting such interviews, and prototyping through active materialization of ideas followed by improvements based on user tests.

Through my research, I heard from a patient’s family about how hard it was to recover from the pain of losing someone who they loved, and I couldn’t help but feel the tears welling up in my eyes. The most vital aspect of user experience design is trust; being involved in this project has really brought home to me just how important it is for services to be empathetic.

Healthcare services are a type of service that is directly linked to people’s emotions. I believe that, by using this project to provide empathetic services, we can make at least a small contribution towards reducing the amount of pain and misery in the world.

Even for someone who has only been with the company for two years, it is possible to create a business from nothing

Even for someone who has only been with the company for two years, it is possible to create a business from nothing

I was assigned to Moon two years after joining Mitsui, because of my background in biology and cancer research experience. At Moon, being young and having limited work experience is not a drawback; at the same time, you can’t use these factors as an excuse, either. The biggest difference compared to working as part of a large team is that your commitment and judgement are challenged to an even greater extent. You are constantly having to formulate proposals in terms of “What to focus on, what do we want users to experience, what problems are we trying to solve, and how should we go about doing this?”, and then implement them. I am constantly aware of the fact that, without strong willpower, the project you are working on will not make any forward progress, and you will then be unable to successfully create a business that can generate new value for the world. As I see it, that is what building a new business from scratch involves.

By continuing to realize my dream, I hope to inspire other employees

I have three dreams that I want to make come true. The first is to succeed in my current project of building a business that uses AI effectively for disease diagnosis. I hope that this will provide stimulus for other young employees at Mitsui, who will think “If she can do it, then I should be able to do it too,” so that other people will continue to take on the same kind of challenge. Secondly, I want to support Mitsui to develop, to an even greater extent than at present, a corporate culture and environment that enables individual employees to exercise their creativity. Finally, I want to develop, within Moon, more new businesses in the fields of education and healthcare that I have developed the idea for, starting from scratch.

At Moon, and within Mitsui as a whole, there are many people with diverse backgrounds, creating a network that gives you access to different viewpoints and different kinds of support. I feel that if I continue to grow and develop entrepreneurship at Moon, there are no dreams that I cannot make come true.