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"Cross-Border and Co-Creation: A New Business Born from Transcendence"

OKANO focuses on new businesses that address social challenges. One of these is the X-BORDER (Cross-Border) project, which aims to create an environment fostering cross-border collaboration and co-creation. Despite maintaining world-class quality and mindset, the manufacturing industry in Japan has been facing a downturn. To regain recognition globally, what is needed? Amidst the manufacturing industry, contemplating its future and the environment surrounding it, OKANO's answer was "cross-border and co-creation." In this article, X-BORDER Division Chief Sato reflects on the development process and introduces the concept of the new business. Sato emphasizes, "The X-BORDER project itself is a new business born from cross-border collaboration."


X-BORDER Division Chief

Joined Okano Valve in 2006. Having worked across manufacturing fields such as machine turning and programming since joining, Sato transitioned to the New Business Development Department in 2021, leveraging his experience of crossing boundaries in the manufacturing industry.

Next Phase of the Order and Delivery Platform

The X-BORDER project originated from the IoM (Industry of Manufacturing) business, which supports order and delivery for small and medium-sized enterprises.

While Japanese craftsmanship boasts top-tier quality globally, the manufacturing industry has been in a prolonged slump due to increased focus on cost competitiveness at the expense of efficiency. Over the past fifteen years since the Lehman Shock, many manufacturing companies, especially small-scale enterprises, have disappeared.


"The IoM business began with the idea of helping manufacturing companies. Small-scale companies downstream in the supply chain, when orders from large upstream companies cease, face difficulties sustaining themselves. This situation is not unique to OKANO's supply chain; discussions on how to assist manufacturing companies have been ongoing internally for a while."

Therefore, OKANO established the IoM Division in 2017 to provide new order and delivery channels for small-scale enterprises. While achieving certain results as a platform for order and delivery for local factories, it did not address the higher-level problem of maximizing the competitiveness of manufacturing companies. Hence, the IoM Division began exploring the next phase of the order and delivery platform.

Environmental Influence Surpasses Information

In 2021, Sato, now IoM Division Chief, began considering how to strengthen manufacturing companies. The initial concept that arose was an information-providing platform.

Until then, manufacturing companies had been reluctant to disclose know-how. For example, even finding open information on how to visualize factory facilities was challenging. In today's business environment, where the speed of business development is accelerating, and open source is prevalent, this lack of open information is a disadvantage for the industry. Therefore, OKANO envisioned providing information to update manufacturing.


"Initially, we were considering media expansion. However, doubts arose about whether providing information alone could change manufacturing. To solve higher-level challenges such as maximizing the competitiveness of manufacturing companies, I felt a broader perspective was necessary."

Sato first analyzed Japan's competitiveness globally. According to the "IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook," Japan was ranked first out of 64 countries until 1992, gradually dropping to 31st place by 2021. Looking at the global manufacturing industry, emerging countries surpassed advanced nations in production in 2014.


In response to this situation, various countries, especially in Europe and the United States, started national initiatives to rebuild their entire industries around manufacturing.


"For example, Australia's Modern Manufacturing Strategy includes conditions such as the creation of value, collaboration with research institutions, involvement in manufacturing, and more, in addition to providing subsidies. They are starting to focus not only on costs but also on values, services, and the impact on people."

These initiatives emphasize the need for manufacturing to provide value not only in terms of production but also in terms of added value for the market. However, domestic manufacturing in Japan continues to compete primarily in terms of production technology and operational efficiency. Sato felt the need for the manufacturing industry to change its perspective and undergo self-transformation. How could manufacturing achieve self-transformation? Surprisingly, the answer was close at hand.


 "Looking again at startups around me, I noticed a kind of enthusiasm there. People need temperature and tension to get moving, and an environment to foster that tension seems necessary. "

Creating an environment has much more power than providing information. So, what kind of environment is needed? By reviewing examples that are creating new trends in the world, I found the answer."


"Looking at practical initiatives abroad, an environment for manufacturing to participate is provided. What I learned is that trends are not created solely by companies or industries; they are generated by transcending boundaries, being influenced externally, and co-creating to produce added value."

The answer Sato arrived at was transcending boundaries and co-creation. The environment to provide was not just information but an environment where experiences of transcending boundaries and co-creation could be gained. The concept of the X-BORDER project took shape.

Demonstrating Personal Transcendence


"I have been with OKANO for 15 years. Until I got involved in new business development, I was entirely a person from the production field, involved in lathe operation, machine programming, and more."

Although Sato is now in charge of a new business, he is also a transcendent and has experienced co-creation. While he had not previously had opportunities to engage with industries outside manufacturing, since taking on the responsibility for new businesses, he has interacted with various industries.


 "OKANO's Okinawa-Koza Office, the base for new business development, is a shared office with designers, engineers, entrepreneurs, and various people. When I became responsible for new business development and began conceptualizing projects in Koza, natural interactions occurred. People provided valuable information, introduced skilled individuals, and the speed and energy level were impressive."

Despite being small organizations, startup companies continuously create added value by connecting with external talent. Sato witnessed this and, by immersing himself in it, felt a change in himself.


 "By placing myself outside the manufacturing industry, my thinking changed completely within a year. However, I believe it's not something only I can do; anyone can update themselves in an environment where transcendence and co-creation occur."


This spring, the X-BORDER project finally launched. The vision is to "create a positive trend in Japan that confronts game-changing." They envision a society that encourages self-transformation and self-evolution. The mission is to "transcend boundaries and co-create, providing an environment for those experiences."

People are most influenced by their environment. The quickest way to promote self-transformation is to create an environment. The process of transcending boundaries, co-creating, and engaging becomes an experience that changes oneself more than anything else. However, such environments are still scarce in this country. X-BORDER aims to be a pioneer in this regard.


"While the business concept started targeting manufacturing, I gradually realized that the target is not limited to that. There are people in various industries and places who don't realize their potential, who don't know how to polish their gems, or who have the means to polish but haven't found the gems. We are exploring mechanisms that will make such people shine and revitalize regions or even the entire country."

Although X-BORDER has just started, the concept is progressing, and the day when the full picture can be revealed is approaching. With a gentle smile, Sato expresses his enthusiasm.


"Originally, when I was in the manufacturing field, I loved improvement, and I believed there was nothing I couldn't do. This time, it's X-BORDER. It was the most interesting thing when I first got involved in new business development, and that hasn't changed. I continue to maintain the mindset of a challenger."

X-BORDER, a new business born from cross-border and co-creation

X-BORDER, a new business born from cross-border and co-creation

#Okinawa #Koza #interview #X-BORDER

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