Hitachi - Innovation challenge for circular economy


Tech & IT

Location (s):

  • Online


Following Hitachi’s mission of social innovation, the Water & Environment Business Unit (WEBU) and Corporate Venturing Office within Hitachi have come together to launch the Innovation Challenge for Circular Economy to ensure that the planet we pass on to the next generation will be a better place than the one we found! If your company has a business solution to help tackle one or several of the problems below, we would like to hear from you! No matter where you are from, join this contest for the chance to develop a business partnership with Hitachi, a global group from Japan!


Themes to Tackle

  • Ensuring the sustainability of water resources
  • Creating a zero waste society
  • Reducing food waste in Southeast Asia

Ensuring the sustainability of water resources

> REQUIREMENTS This problem statement should be tackled from the perspectives of the North American, Japanese and Southeast Asian market.

> BACKGROUND Water pollution and the shortage in consumable water resources are big issues for our planet. We are looking for ideas and solutions which would (1) enable industrial wastewater to be properly treated, recycled and reused in a circular way and (2) create and share domestic water efficiently. Please propose your idea, solution or technology which would contribute to efficiently using our valuable water resources.

> IDEA EXAMPLES Some issues which could be tackled under this category include, but are not restricted to, the following:

  • Effective Desalination of Seawater in islands
  • Predicting water supply and demand
  • Recycling of industrial wastewater, regional accommodation, certification of proper treatment
  • Wastewater treatment in industrial parks and interchange between factories


  • Producing safe drinking water in the densely populated Maldives
  • How Cities in Japan are Realizing Sustainable Water Supply through Co-Creation

Creating a zero waste society

> REQUIREMENTS This problem statement should be tackled from the perspectives of the European, Japanese and Southeast Asian market.

> BACKGROUND Our mass production and mass disposal model is linear, meaning that waste is mainly lost and not reused. This is an environmental issue as it increases pollution but also an economic loss as waste materials are not reused. We would like to develop the circular economy and find a solution to ensure our production models are in a closed loop based on Reuse, Upcycle, Recycle, Repair and the Reduction of Resources rather than their disposal. Please submit your idea, digital or technological solution to help in creating our vision of a zero waste society.

> IDEA EXAMPLES Some issues which could be tackled under this category include, but are not restricted to, the following:

  • Waste reduction and proof of proper treatment of the Upcycling Process
  • Conversion of waste materials into valuable resources (e.g. upcycling of Waste Plastics etc)
  • Ensuring the longevity of equipment (repair and reuse)

Reducing food waste in Southeast Asia

> REQUIREMENTS This problem statement should be tackled from the perspective of the Southeast Asian market.

NOTE: If you have any ideas specifically related to food waste in Southeast Asia, please enter Category 3 instead of Category 2.

> BACKGROUND In Southeast Asia, food waste is discharged daily from factories, restaurants, supermarkets, etc. This waste has potential to be reused as an organic resource providing it can be transformed with the correct technology. We are looking for (1) ideas to reuse food waste as a consumable organic resource or (2) ideas in Digital management or Effective Use of Waste Material for the Food and Beverage Industry(e.g. Factory, Restaurant, Supermarket, Warehouse, Building and so on) and its supply chain.

> IDEA EXAMPLES Some issues which could be tackled under this category include, but are not restricted to, the following:

  • Biogas power generation
  • Compost
  • Transforming food waste into animal feed

The projects will be assessed following the criteria below:

  • Value of the addressed issues: Is there a real need in the market to address this issue? How many people are impacted by it?
  • Potential to create a strong customer base: How big is the market you are targeting? Who (companies/individuals) make up the target segment?
  • Innovativeness of the technology and business model: How innovative is the technology used and the business model? How are they different from others?
  • Feasibility: How feasible is the solution to put into practice? Does the solution make sense financially? Will the solution be sustainable over the long term?
  • Impact: What is the scale of potential social impact? How broad is the impact? How many people will your solution reach? How significant is the impact?
  • Synergy with Hitachi (Mentoring phase only): To what extent is your solution in line with Hitachi’s values of social innovation?


About us

Hitachi, Ltd was founded in 1910 in Japan and originally manufactured and sold a five horsepower electric motor. The company has been growing for over 100 years to become what we know today. Hitachi’s goal is to create innovations that will help solve societal challenges with the help of its global partners (Called “Social Innovation Business” ; Link to Movie). Hitachi drives digital innovation across five sectors – Mobility, Smart Life, Industry, Energy and IT – through Lumada, Hitachi's advanced digital solutions, services, and technologies for turning data into insights to drive digital innovation. Its purpose is to deliver solutions that increase social, environmental and economic value for its customers. The Innovation Challenge for Circular Economy is organized by the following business units from Hitachi:

  • The Water and Environment Business Unit (WEBU) in Hitachi has been operating Water plants and equipment, as well as supplying clean water to people in Japan and other countries (such as the Maldives) (Link to Website).
  • Corporate Venturing Office (CVO): The department promotes global Corporate Venture activity with partners and Hitachi Ventures GmbH. (Link to Website)

Opportunity is About:


Candidates should be from:

Description of Ideal Candidate:

This Challenge is open and offered solely to: 

  • Startup. A business entity, regardless of its business area. Startups may be required, in Sponsor’s sole discretion, to provide proof of (i) company registration by submitting a registration certificate issued within the last three (3) months, or ongoing company registration, or any trade registry and proof ensuring the registration of the entity in the relevant country, and (ii) a valid professional insurance policy subscription. 

All the documents that may confirm the Participant’s eligibility will be required prior to awarding any prizes (e.g. identity document, student card, etc.). This Challenge is not open to: employees and representatives of the Sponsor, Agorize employees and members of their families. This Challenge is void in countries where it is prohibited or restricted by law.


Deadline: January 08, 2021

Program Starts: January 25, 2021

Program Ends: March 22, 2021

Cost/funding for participants:

The following opportunities await the startups which make it to the Final:

  • Pitch to Hitachi execs
  • Collaboration with Hitachi
  • Connect to Hitachi CVO
  • PoC discussion
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