On July 11, 2014, a presentation was given on the results of the Ideathon, a co-creation project between students from a seminar conducted by Professor Hiroshi Sasaki at the College of Business at Rikkyo University and members from the Community Lab of Tomorrow , a website run by Fujitsu, at Fujitsu Solution Square (Ota-ku, Tokyo). Ideathon is a term coined by combining the words “idea” and “marathon.” It refers to participation in an event in which people exchange and deliberate various ideas based on specified themes to generate exciting new concepts.
Path to the presentation of results
The joint project between students of the seminar and members from the Community Lab of Tomorrow started in March 2014 with the aim of generating innovative ideas for products and services from the viewpoint of a “digital native generation.” This is simultaneously a venture in bi-directional university education among students, faculty, and businesspeople.
Thus far, we have held discussions, visited the Fujitsu Forum 2014, performed idea prototyping, and carried out other activities while extending invitations to Fujitsu group employees. To conclude these activities, we held a meeting to present our activity results.
Seven teams consisting of the seminar students participated in the presentation, where at first each team delivered a “Preview Pitch” (90 seconds per team) using slides or a short skit. After viewing these pitches, reviewers (all meeting participants) watched the presentations conducted at each booth in the exhibition area.
In addition to the Participants’ Choice award, for which the winner was chosen from among votes by all presentation attendees, there were four prizes. As a guest reviewer from outside Fujitsu, Mitsuru Takamatsu of TBWA-HAKUHODO-QUANTUM participated in the meeting as a representative of a new organization recently established to realize innovation. Seminar students and visitors were excited to see which teams would win awards.
“Fa-St Pass” to say “I like his/her clothes”
The idea which won both the QUANTUM award from Takamatsu and the Ashita-no-Community Lab award chosen by Tatsuhiko Shibasaki (Head of the Strategic Planning Department of the Business Promotion Division at Fujitsu), Representative of Ashita-lab, was Team Kaburanai’s “Fa-St Pass,” an abbreviation of “Fashion Street Pass.”
This service enables the exchange of fashion-related information using r communication technology which activates as people pass each other and positional information service technology.
Takamatsu, one of the reviewers, highly evaluated the idea for implementation as a business model involving apparel brands: “This is an innovative idea. If realized, it could significantly change trends in the fashion industry.” Shibasaki presented the team with the right to participate in the Ashita-lab editors’ meeting (lunch meeting) as a supplementary prize, which greatly pleased the team members.
“Lovix,” a next-generation penlight to transform the staging of events
”Lovix” presented by Team Surfing Pikachu received both the Participants’ Choice an award voted on by visitors and the IoT (Internet of Things) award. Lovix is an audience participation technique that can be used to stage music and other similar events.
The team presented an innovative, unprecedented concert expression technique that makes full use of accelerometers and communication functionality.
This system, which adds a bi-directional feature for staging artists’ events, was highly evaluated by Takaaki Suga, a reviewer for the IoT award (Head of the IoT Business Promotion Division at Fujitsu).
“Text-less for Zero-stress!” to dramatically change college life
Another award-winning work was Team Sea Dog’s “Text-less for Zero-stress!” This project received the Design award, which was chosen by Kunio Tsutaya (Senior Expert, General Design Center, Global Marketing Division, Fujitsu).
This well thought-out idea could reform college education by focusing on the communication between faculty members and students, as well as communication between students and college facilities under a concept of “realization of a comfortable college life in which learning is easy.”
Although the other four teams narrowly missed winning prizes, the ideas they presented were all interesting.
Other teams and their ideas
Team Big Eaters: “Revolutionizing Campus Life with Clairvoyance”
An idea of surveying students’ movements, including empty classrooms and congestion at the student cafeteria, using sensors installed on campus. Under this idea, students’ whereabouts and movements can be instantly recognized. The areas and times in which students move around can also be analyzed.
Team Boiled Tomato: “PIECE of 2020 DREAM”
A system with a tourism theme in light of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Routes to sites, ticket purchasing, Japanese translation, flash reports on games and distribution of videos of games, understanding of the extent of congestion, and other services offered from the view of foreign tourists.
Team Eyebrow: “Development of Smart and Comfortable Cities”
Collection and analysis of information, including users’ positional information at locations where people gather together, purposes of going out, and other data needed by users. Under this idea, optimal plans are provided to each individual, reducing congestion throughout the entire area.
Team Eldest Sons and Daughters: “Good Coordination Isn’t Like That”
After registering your own clothing with the system, it suggests fashion coordination based on weather forecasts and your schedule; you can also try on the suggestions using the application. Features include advice from coordinators and creation of rankings.
Professor Sasaki: “Repeatedly successfully diverging and converging ideas”
At the end of the meeting, Professor Sasaki of the College of Business at Rikkyo University gave everyone the following general assessment.
General assessment by Professor Sasaki
Fujitsu Group personnel visited our seminar almost every week to help us, and we learned a lot from the start. In the beginning I was concerned about whether my students would be able to keep up with professionals (laugh), but they did a great job and it showed in the presentations.
Today’s students do a lot of group work on a regular basis and have a great deal of opportunities for brainstorming to consider ideas or use the KJ method to converge ideas. However, these activities can become one-off events.
The Ideathon is truly a run for ideas. While expanding ideas and refining them from different perspectives, we repeatedly diverged and converged our ideas together with Fujitsu Group personnel. I think this was the students’ first experience to be trained through this process.
Furthermore, this may be the first time in Japan that an industry-academia collaboration initiative has made it this far. I hope this initiative will not end here; I hope we can continue to hold many more Ideathon events.
The presentation took two hours to complete, and while only some teams could win prizes, all students expressed some terrific ideas. We Fujitsu employees were also inspired by the attitudes of students, with their eyes sparkling as they eagerly learned.
Making the most of this project, Fujitsu will further deepen collaboration between universities and businesses and attempt to co-create new forms of industry-academia collaboration and social innovation.
Professor, Business Leadership Program in the College of Business at Rikkyo University. Specializing in management information theory, Professor Sasaki’s research covers a wide range of phenomena related to business strategy, management systems, cross-organizational relationships, social structure, and other topics related to information, including e-marketing, marketing research, IT management, e-business, IT innovation, information service industry, and the Web society.