Going beyond boundaries is the Osaka Gas way.

To become a company that continues to be chosen by customers through successive generations

—— Osaka Gas launched its new website under the theme of “creating a bright new future with an enterprising spirit.” How important is this spirit for Osaka Gas?

Setoguchi : The enterprising spirit we uphold represents our company’s policy of actively taking on challenging missions. Maintaining such spirit is part of the DNA our company has inherited since its inception. This spirit is exhibited in our Long-Term Management Vision 2030. By going beyond three “boundaries”—customer expectations, business borders, and corporate borders—we aim to become an innovative energy service provider that continues to be chosen by customers through successive generations. The most important boundary we aim to go beyond is exceeding customers’ expectations—a task considered extremely difficult.

At a time when all kinds of services are available, our customers’ expectations have become very high. Under these circumstances, we need to give priority to adding new technological value to our products and services—to ensure that customers choose us as their energy service provider, which can be achieved by mainstream technological development for our business. By improving the technological expertise and wisdom our company has accumulated in the energy sector over the years, we will strive to “create more advanced services” in response to our customers’ needs.

Another key is to create new technological value in the non-energy sector, which is made possible by technological development that goes beyond business borders, utilizing expertise and know-how acquired as by-products of the technological development for our mainstay energy business.

Accumulation of technologies in various fields seen as a strength of Osaka Gas

—— In terms of going beyond business borders in the non-energy sector, what are some specific activities your company has engaged in?

Setoguchi : Focusing on the theme of creating new innovation, we are developing technologies in various non-energy fields—more than the public could imagine. We are one of the energy service providers that aggressively transcend business borders. And throughout the company’s history, we have been promoting such a policy. Among the technologies we have developed under this policy are several that have just begun generating remarkable results.

For example, we produce fluorene cellulose, which we have developed using our unique material (fluorene) technologies that we have possessed since the era in which gas was produced by refining coal. Fluorene cellulose is a new material produced through a chemical reaction between cellulose fibers—biomass material—and fluorene. Fluorene cellulose is considered an excellent material because it is lightweight but strong. In addition, it was processed so that it can be easily mixed with resins, enabling the chemical substance to be used in a wide range of fields. We are also working on developing healthcare products by applying our technological expertise to the biotechnology field. These are some of our efforts in the non-energy sector, where we try to find wide application of the technologies we have accumulated in the mainstay energy business.

Open innovation & global operations

—— The third and last boundary you aim to go beyond is corporate borders. What are specific actions your company is taking to transcend these boundaries?

Setoguchi : First, we are promoting open innovation. What I have discussed so far is how we can advance our own technologies to higher stages. While we can create new things through application of our own technologies, I believe that the approach will meet its limitation at some point, and it is important for us to go beyond corporate borders if we want to continue to be innovative. Open innovation is an idea aimed at creating something new by exposing our technologies to different sector technologies developed by those who have different values and backgrounds, including universities, research institutes, venture firms and overseas companies.

For example, if we are to create new services by utilizing IoT or ICT, the key is to explore new technologies and new ideas not only on the hardware front but also on the software front. As part of such efforts, this fiscal year we started gathering technological information in Silicon Valley.

As another effort to go beyond corporate borders, we will apply the engineering and environmental conservation technologies we have developed in Japan to overseas operations. Specifically, we will launch a consultation business to support the construction of LNG terminals overseas while expanding gas sales and energy services businesses in industrial sector.

Omoroi and itemae spirit

—— What do you think are necessary in the corporate culture of Osaka Gas that help each member of the company to go beyond the boundaries?

Setoguchi : If I am allowed to use the local dialect of Osaka, I would say that we should embrace a spirit that is embodied in two local words—omoroi and itemae. Omoroi is a word meaning "curious to know about the unknown." Itemae means "willing to overcome hardship," not "conquer enemies" as interpreted literally. As these two words show, Osaka Gas as a company holds characteristics of being wild, curious, and willing to take on challenges, which are all preserved in the DNA of Osaka Gas since the company’s history began. And this spirit serves as a driver for the company to go beyond various boundaries. As long as we maintain such spirit, we can make any failure a steppingstone to success as we have with failure of products and services launched in the past. "Let’s go all out. Don't be afraid of failure." This is the kind of spirit that I believe is required for innovation.

Another important thought that I expect Osaka Gas members to bear in mind as I always say is remembering the corporate principles of Osaka Gas, which is our corporate motto, “service first (customer first),” and who we strive to be, “a company which powers continuous advancement in consumer life and business.” When we embark on projects that go beyond the boundaries, we must always remember why we are undertaking those projects. Failing to do so could end up mistaking the means for the end. We must always keep our customers and their needs clearly in sight as we take on challenging tasks to surpass our old selves, thinking outside the box. Meanwhile, we must be continually asking ourselves if our activities are contributing to a better future for our customers, society, and country.

Please look forward to the future that Osaka Gas opens up.

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