Successful visit of Innovation Mission Greenhouse Robotics to Japan

From 10 to 15 July RVO, in cooperation with the agricultural and innovation sections of the Netherlands Embassy in Tokyo, organized an innovation mission to Japan on greenhouse robotics. The Top Sector’s seed money project JaNeth Onshitsu Robotto formed part of the mission’s program as it shared the mission’s objective. By engaging with various Japanese growers, researchers and government officials, the mission explored possibilities for joint research and development between the Netherlands and Japan.
The mission succeeded in harvesting interesting leads for potential joint collaborative projects, if possible in the framework of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) program that could give follow up to the seed money project.

The innovation mission consisted of some of the Netherlands’ leading horti-tech companies (Bom Group, Certhon, Hoogendoorn Growth Management, Van der Hoeven Horticultural Projects), research institutes (WUR, WecR, TNO, One Planet Research Center) and representatives from Oost NL and LNV. Over the course of 5 days, which took the mission from Tokyo to Kyushu, the mission members met with representatives from some of Japan’s leading high-tech companies (NTT Agri Technology, Panasonic, Kubota, Yaskawa), interesting agri-related start-ups (AGRIST, GINZAFARM, i-eat, inaho), innovative growers and greenhouse facilities (Asai Nursery, AgriD, Aeon Agri Create, Yume Farm JA Zen-Noh) and research organizations (NARO, Ehime University, R&D Center for the Plant Factory of Osaka Metropolitan University). At the occasion of the mission a subcommittee meeting of the bilateral Agricultural Policy Dialogue was held at MAFF with a focus on the topics of open innovation and international research collaboration. The mission concluded with a visit to one of Japan’s largest retailers, Aeon, to get an impression how fresh produce is offered to the consumer.

The mission contributed to a better understanding of Japan’s greenhouse horticulture which is mainly characterized by small-scale, low to mid-tech cultivation. The mission also provided insights into the state of digitalization in horticulture, i.e. the use of data and the role of robotization in agriculture as well as in Japanese society at large. The overall impression of the mission members was that Japan’s robotics expertise provides interesting leads for collaboration. As a first step by way of follow-up to the Seed Money Project, some joint projects could be set up, potentially under a larger PPP program, with various use cases.

Photos by LAN-Japan

IM SMP dinner
Seed Money Project “JaNeth Onshitsu Robotto” dinner

During the Seed Money Project “JaNeth Onshitsu Robotto” dinner, NL and JP partners exchanged views about potential collaboration. Read more at SMP-2206 | JaNeth Onshitsu Robotto - Topsector Agri & Food (topsectoragrifood.nl)

IM Network Reception
Network reception at the Ambassador’s Residence
IM NTT Agri_AEON
The mission visited two tomato greenhouses from AEON (right) and NTT Agri Technology (left).
IM Visit to Asai Nursery
The mission visited the greenhouse of Asai Nursery where the real-time photosynthesis and transpiration monitoring system developed by Prof. Kotaro Takayama of Ehime University and Toyohashi University of Technology is applied.
IM AgriD
The mission visited the greenhouse of AgriD, a joint venture established by Asai Nursery and DENSO.
IM Panasonic combined
The mission visited the Robotics hub at Panasonic where robots were on display to show the mission their technology to handle picking and sorting tomatoes and strawberries.
IM Yaskawa’s robot village and Yume Farm Zen-Noh
The mission went to Yaskawa’s robot village and to the greenhouse of Zen-Noh, a collaboration with Yaskawa on greenhouse robotics.
IM AEON Saga Yamato
The last stop of the mission was at one of AEON’s supermarkets to see how fresh produce is put on display.