Special Feature 2

Encouraging Curiosity-Driven Research to Create Groundbreaking Innovation

Programs and a research climate that stimulate researchers’ inquiring minds

Active interaction of professionals creates new value

Hitoshi NobumasaHitoshi Nobumasa
Director, New Projects Development Division, New Frontiers Research Laboratories, Toray Industries, Inc.

The Toray Group has long fostered a research climate that encourages individual employees to pursue scientific inquiry. The Group believes that this liberal climate helps to cultivate innovative ideas. Employees enjoy the freedom to perform curiosity-driven research at the initial stage (“fuzzy front end”) of new product development, with their own motive and discretion. Researchers do not have to be supervised by their managers regarding schemes and results of such preliminary experiments.

There are three factors that led me to start researching our DNA microarray. Firstly, I believed that bioscience would open up possibilities for new research fields, which was aligned with our corporate strategy to combine nanotechnology and biotechnology. Secondly, the completion of the mapping of the human genome in 2003 has significantly changed the scientific landscape. Lastly, as a scientist, I wanted to create something of value which would change the world through material science.

At the Toray Group, curiosity-driven research initially involves only a few people. Researchers from different disciplines discuss the fuzzy front end, continue to debate over and over again, and extract an unexpected, intriguing idea. Then the idea is presented at a project proposal meeting, which helps identify significant social value. This is the start of the new project. The Toray Group embraces diversity, and in that way provides many opportunities to create new value.

Program for project start-ups

Generation of new research projects



Yuko Sudo

Since joining Toray, I have learned to think about where my work will lead in 10 years, beyond the current work at hand. By understanding the personal qualities expected of me along with the direction Toray is progressing as a corporate group, I find the research themes to pursue and design projects which can be expected to create new value for society. As a researcher, I would like to look for inspiration by maintaining a lot of interests in many things and listening to many people.

Yuko Sudo
Senior Research Associate, Nanobio Group, New Frontiers Research Laboratories, Toray Industries, Inc.