R&D activities at Yokogawa are classified into two types. Firstly, product development and applied research activities are geared to meeting customer needs and target a relatively foreseeable future. Secondly, innovation activities are conducted from a longer-term perspective, involve greater uncertainty, and are directed toward the generation of new business opportunities. Whereas business headquarters are mainly responsible for the former, the latter is primarily the task of the Innovation Center.
By engaging in innovation activities, Yokogawa not only provides systems but also creates technologies and solutions together with customers that prompt them to change their perspectives and approaches. The innovation process consists of three concentric layers as show in the figure below. The outermost layer, consisting of information from the field and signs of change obtained by scanning the "external environment," such as markets and customers, is reflected in "standardization, intellectual property and open innovation," which constitute the second layer that supports "innovation activities," the innermost layer. In innovation activities, we generated ideas, refine the technologies to realize the ideas through R&D, and incubate them. A cycle of these three stages is executed repeatedly to achieve commercialization.
The Innovation Center is an R&D department in Yokogawa mainly responsible for innovation activities that target an uncertain, unpredictable future for which new business opportunities are sought.
The Innovation Center’s process for the future-oriented R&D activities is described below.