On Tuesday 25th August, Energy Tech Meetup, with the support of Business France & the French Embassy in Japan, organized a conference around French-Japanese partnerships working towards energy transition. For both countries, climate action is a priority. A more diverse energy mix is needed and key targets regarding greenhouse gas reductions must be achieved (-40% in 2030 vs. 1990 for France and -18% for Japan, according to the Ministry of Ecological Transition).
Energy transition is indeed the perfect ground for innovation and cooperation. Let’s learn the challenges and opportunities of such a partnership with Vincent Sciandra, CEO of METRON and Kentaro Ono, General Manager of NTT Facilities and Head of their European office.
An Upgrade to Industry 4.0
These developments began when NTT Facilities decided to streamline and diversify its business model with an advanced energy management software... but could not find one in Japan. The firm was looking for a meaningful solution on different levels: the whole system, technology and business model, had to create value.
“After travelling to many countries, and assisting many events, I found METRON in 2017 at the European Utility Week 2017, in Amsterdam.,” said Kentaro ONO, General Manager of NTT Facilities and Head of their European office.
METRON is a French CleanTech specialized in improving energy efficiency, operating performance, reducing energy costs and carbon footprint through a platform solution for Energy Management 4.0.
If back then, in industry, changing machines was a way to be more efficient, it is now possible to do it without additional investment, thanks to digitalization. METRON’s solution can connect to any system, gather all the data and create a digital twin of a factory to understand how all machines are being used and how to optimize them. The aim is to be sustainable in the long run. It can even help in a pandemic situation as it allows operators to manage factories remotely.
This technology with several layers convinced NTT Facilities. After several meetings with METRON’s board members and engineers to understand the technology and the strategic fit, NTT Facilities was convinced by METRON's vision, value proposition, technology and corporate culture.
“In Japan, decentralization and distribution is a challenge maybe more important than in any other country. METRON is willing to optimize the full supply chain of energy with its AI platform.”, explained Vincent Sciandra, CEO of METRON.
A New Ecosystem for Future Value Creation
In 2019, NTT DOCOMO Ventures, NTT’s corporate venture capital, assessed the finance and strategy created by this triangle cooperation. A 2-year discussion, a strong relationship building, as well as an investment from NTT DOCOMO Ventures led to the signature of the contract in April 2020.
This partnership is an opportunity for both sides to share experience and have a complementary know-how. The challenge was to adapt the solution to the Japanese market and not copy pasting what was successfully done in France. The mindset was to go deep into Japanese culture and METRON was able to succeed with the support of NTT Facilities. We have now built up a successful relationship and are currently deploying in the field.
A successful French-Japanese story
The need for a new energy system strongly supported by the Japanese government created opportunities for the private sector to develop innovative partnerships. Not one company has the solution. Cooperation and collaboration are needed, even when facing cross cultural challenges. A successful partnership such as the NTT Facilities <> METRON one, was built up over time with trust, human contact, mutual understanding and a shared commitment in order to create value. Combining experience from a big Japanese company and innovation from a younger French start-up shows openness and serves a meaningful cause, climate action.