Fujitsu Canada Success Story
Opening a New Door to Green ICT Innovation and Collaboration in Québec
Open innovation… “a paradigm that assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas”… “innovating with partners by sharing risk and sharing reward”…“finding the right solution, the best ideas and the brightest minds, wherever they may be, and bringing them together to take on business challenges whether they’re unique to you or faced by everyone in your business sector.”
There are many ways to define open innovation and even more ways to put it into practice to gain a competitive edge in the market. Fujitsu knows this well. The company is an open innovation leader and global powerhouse in the ICT world. Offering a full range of technology products and services, it serves clients in more than 100 countries and generated consolidated revenues of $4.5 trillion yen (equivalent to US$54 billion) in 2011. As Fujitsu continues to blaze a trail of success, it remains focused on a powerful vision: to create a more prosperous, intelligent and sustainable society. The firm specializes in ICT solutions that help customers to reduce their carbon emissions and overall burden on the environment. When the company aimed to introduce the first open innovation centre of its kind in North America, there was only one place to do it: Québec.
Leveraging funding from the Government of Québec through Equation, Fujitsu Canada has expanded its presence in Québec City and established the Fujitsu Innovation Centre – a nexus of ideas, expertise and technologies. This novel multimillion dollar centre is a collaborative space where Québec-based business partners and customers are invited to work with Fujitsu specialists to put new ideas into practice and build innovative business solutions.
Harnessing the expertise of more than 1,500 local Fujitsu employees
and more than 170,000 other employees around the world, the centre is translating research concepts into working prototypes, demonstrations and early-stage products.
Driven to create value for all collaborators and society more broadly, the Fujitsu Innovation Centre promotes the development of green technologies and solutions that benefit our environment. It is founded on four areas of focus: cloud computing; mobile computing; intelligent information management; and desktop virtualization.
Drawing on the rich industry base in Québec City, this facility is providing local entrepreneurs and SMEs with new R&D capabilities and channels to market. This includes access to high quality technology development environments and laboratories. Downstream, the innovations that emerge from this centre promise to generate economic, social and environmental benefits for the citizens of Québec.
“The Fujitsu Innovation Centre is expected to create at least 50 high quality jobs in Québec City over the next few years,” said Rémi Jean, Director of the Fujitsu Innovation Centre. “We expect to develop a minimum of 20 collaborative initiatives by March 2015. We have already initiated several cloud computing and virtual desktop projects that engage a dozen in-house experts and 50 Québec innovators. These initiatives are already beginning to pay significant dividends.”
For example, an elementary school teacher walked into the Fujitsu Innovation Centre with a promising idea. As a teacher at École Jouvence and École des Hauts-Clochers in Québec City, Vincent Morissette found it challenging to effectively track and monitor the overall progress of each student. With many sources of information, it is difficult to acquire a comprehensive snapshot of a student’s academic performance and personal development. It is time consuming to search for student evaluations, curricula details, extracurricular activities and feedback from fellow teachers. Moreover, it is equally challenging for parents and students to gauge progress in real time.
To address this issue, Mr. Morissette and six colleagues developed a mobile application for student evaluation. This easy-to-use online tool puts a wealth of information at the fingertips of teachers, parents and students, while helping to reduce teacher workload and supporting Québec Education Reform. With a first prototype in hand, this teacher-turned-entrepreneur approached the Fujitsu Innovation Centre. He aimed to enhance the application and develop a global go-to-market strategy.
Given the alignment with corporate objectives, the Fujitsu Innovation Centre initiated a project with Edusis, the company founded by Mr. Morissette, and negotiated an acquisition of the intellectual property. “Working with seasoned veterans and technology from Fujitsu, we designed a mobile solution that addresses the needs of teachers, parents and students,” said Mr. Morissette. “This tool allows a user to access student information from any tablet, laptop or handheld device in real time. It rapidly consolidates a variety of data and provides a complete picture of a student’s academic progress.”
In 2012, more than 30 teachers tested the application at 14 elementary and secondary schools across Québec. The resulting feedback led to further enhancements that strengthened the capability of this online tool. The team is now preparing to launch a market-ready product in spring 2013.
“This application will provide children with academic challenges that are well suited to their capabilities. This will help them to focus on their strengths and academic progress as opposed to their performance. The tool also supports collaborative teaching and cooperation within the school,” said Mr. Morissette. “The team at the Fujitsu Innovation Centre accelerated our product development and commercialization, enabling us to achieve these results.”
According to Rémi Jean, Equation played a critical role in the establishment of this novel facility. “Equation and other Prompt-led green ICT initiatives supported by the Government of Québec directly influenced Fujitsu’s decision to establish the centre in Québec City. Fujitsu applauds Québec’s commitment to develop smart technologies and put them to work to create an intelligent society and sustain our environment.”
The Fujitsu Innovation Centre is currently finalizing new ICT-based projects with applications in a host of sectors that will help create jobs, strengthen the local economy and preserve our environment. “Equation provided our Québec-based team with a strategic mandate in cloud computing and related technologies, enabling us to grow our team and make an even greater impact on the province,” said Rémi Jean. “Going forward, we aim to work with Prompt and other Equation Project Leaders to engage university researchers and other SMEs in collaborative projects at the centre. This will extend our reach and help us to create an even greater critical mass of green ICT expertise and applications in Québec.”