JETRO Global Connection -Accelerate Innovation with Japan-

MARUICHI AERIAL ENGINEER of Special Logging Technology Collaborates with a Colombian Startup

(Japan, Republic of Colombia)
November 26, 2020

MaruichiExternal site: a new window will open Co., Ltd. , a startup from Murakami City, Niigata Prefecture, which operates a special tree logging business, and MARUICHI AERIAL ENGINEER Co., Ltd. (maec)External site: a new window will open , a wholly-owned subsidiary of Maruichi, have been developing products in partnership with a Colombian startup. We asked Yoriko Sakai, CEO at maec, about the events leading up to a collaboration and the development of future business. (Interview date: November 9, 2020) Maruichi has been working hard for a long time to acquire rights to technologies such as special logging products. The number of patent applications over the last five years is the highest in the construction industry, even in comparison to major general contractors. The company has also welcomed foreign talents and people who have a background in working for major companies and other startups and has been actively engaged in collaboration and cooperation with other industries. On September 29, 2020, maec was founded to promote product development using the technology Maruichi has cultivated and boost the license business for intellectual property.

Currently, maec is working on developing chainsaw protection pants, climbing equipment and three-dimensional construction devices under the categories of protection wear, climbing devices, and work systems, respectively. The climbing devices and work systems are developed in cooperation with Carlos Escalante, Chief Executive Officer of a Colombian startup Human Bionics SAS (Human Bionics). Maruichi got acquainted with Mr. Escalante at the CEATEC (See Note) show held in the autumn of 2019. At that time, Maruichi was looking for an engineer in software development and artificial intelligence (AI) robotics. Mr. Escalante, who was exhibiting at the JETRO booth, suggested that he could collaborate in the areas of AI and CAD design, and Maruichi has gotten in touch since then. Although that was the only encounter in person, and even amid the new coronavirus pandemic, Maruichi has developed a relationship of trust through frequent online communication.

Mr. Escalante was appointed to the post of director at the recently established maec. He also serves as a project manager for the development of the working system. The project has team members in Japan and Colombia, as well as in Thailand. Although, the time difference makes online meetings challenging to be coordinated, he does not feel that online communication itself is a barrier to moving forward with the project.

As for the form of collaboration with Human Bionics led by Mr. Escalante, Mr. Escalante had previously participated in each project Maruichi was working on. On November 5, maec and Human Bionics entered a partnership agreement (See the press release of maecExternal site: a new window will open ). In doing so, Human Bionics will become more deeply involved in all aspects of maec's development projects, while maec will support Human Bionics' expansion in Japan. Both companies intend to strengthen collaborative relationships further.

A view of special logging, in which a rope is used to climb tall trees to prune and log them.
A Colombian startup is involved in the development of the climbing device used in this process.
(Photo by maec)

(Note) The Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies (CEATEC) is one of the largest cyber-physical system/IoT-related trade fairs in Japan . At CEATEC 2019, which was held in Makuhari Messe in 2019, JETRO set up the JETRO Global Connection, which had displays by 34 start-up firms from a total of 15 different countries and regions. JETRO also made arrangements for “meet-up” business talks with Japanese companies.

Reported by
SATO Terumi, Americas Division of Overseas Research Department, JETRO

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