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Meet mercari R4D’s New Advisory Board

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October 25, 2019

Mercari, Inc.’s Research and Development Organization, mercari R4D(hereafter “R4D”) is proud to announce the formation of its R4D advisory board, along with the appointment of three board members: Jun Murai, Yoshihiro Kawahara, and Woo-Keun Yoon.

The Background Behind the Advisory Board’s Formation

At R4D, we aim to innovate the Mercari Group’s business and services, as well as conduct research and development on areas of advanced technology that we plan to get involved with. We established the “R4D Advisory Board” in order to have external experts give us their third-person perspectives on strengthening our research, development, consulting, and decision-making processes. Jun Murai, chairperson of the advisory board, gave the following comment. “The first new innovations of 20th century computer science were created from IT companies’ research groups, which are separate from the business departments. I’m very grateful that Mercari, a startup representing Japan, has began conducting extensive research and development in the 21st century. As the first research and development advisory board, we will have opportunities to deeply discuss the future of technology and research plans in various fields, and we are excited to see R4D’s continued growth.”

About the Advisory Board Members

Jun Murai

Professor and Chairman of the Keio University Graduate School of Media and Governance, and Doctor of Engineering (Keio University, acquired in 1987). Established Japan’s first network connection JUNET in 1984. Launched the Internet Research Consortium WIDE Project in 1988, as part of efforts to develop and spread internet networks. Paved the way for multilingual support in the early days of the internet, starting with Japanese. Is a leading expert and member of the Strategic Headquarters for the Advanced Information and Telecommunications Network Society (IT Strategic Headquarters), member of the Japanese Cabinet’s Cyber Security Center’s Cyber Security Strategy Division, Chairman of the IoT Promotion Consortium, has worked for various Ministry Committees as member and chief investigator, and is actively involved in international conferences. Was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame (Pioneer Division) in 2013. Received the French Legion of Honor and appointment of Chevalier in 2019. Is known as the “father of the Japanese internet.”

Yoshihiro Kawahara

Professor at The University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Engineering. Completed his doctoral course at The University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Information Science and Technology in 2005. Professor of information science and engineering. Received the 15th Award from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science in 2018. Conducts a wide range of unique research on topics related to telecommunications, manufacturing technology, and wireless power supply technology, to support the use of the Internet of Things (IoT) in various social settings. Recently, various fruits of his research are making their way into society through collaboration with companies and university-based startups.

Woo-Keun Yoon

Robot researcher, entrepreneur, and investor. Born in Hyogo Prefecture. Graduated from Kyushu University’s School of Engineering, and acquired his master’s degree at Kyushu University’s Graduate School of Engineering. Obtained his engineering Ph.D from Tohoku University’s Graduate School of Engineering. With a focus on manipulation technology, he has researched topics such as implementing remote operation and human skill analysis into robots, along with elbow-less robot arms. After working as an assistant at Tohoku University and senior researcher at AIST, he founded the industrial research startup Life Robotics in 2007. At that company, he raised 1.5 billion yen to develop and sell CORO, the world’s only elbow-less collaborative robot. In 2018, he sold the company to FANUC, making it a wholly owned subsidiary. Returned to industrial research in 2018.

R4D’s Major Fields of Research

R4D takes the concept of “using technology to change the way value is exchanged” to focus on fields like blockchain, quantum computers, internet infrastructure, and mobility. The following are the main research fields.

Blockchain

We are researching aspects related to both technology and social systems, in order to establish a society where blockchain can be used safely and securely. In addition to the topics of trust, security, and scalability, we are also covering topics like governance over decentralized financial systems that use blockchain technology, etc. We will also work with Keio University to conduct collaborative research on blockchain.

Quantum Computers

In order to make the Quantum Era a reality, we are researching quantum computers, quantum annealing, and quantum internet. The Quantum Internet Task Force, Japan’s first research organization pushing for quantum internet research, was established in May 2019 in collaboration with Keio University and Osaka University. We are currently preparing strategies to accelerate research and expand our members. Website: https://qitf.org/

Internet Infrastructure

We are researching the automation of basic technology and operations of the next generation of the internet, in order to support the connectivity and comfort of our services.

Mobility

Through soft robotics technology and wireless power, we are researching and developing safe and portable mobility devices. The short-distance personal mobility device “poimo” was developed in collaboration with The University of Tokyo’s Kawahara and Niiyama Laboratories. It was adopted by Tokyo Robot Collection, a business showcasing Tokyo’s cutting-edge technology as part of an experiment aiming to put robots to use throughout the city.

Mercari will invest in cutting-edge, advanced technological areas in order to change the way we use technology to exchange value.

■ R4D was established in December 2017 as a research and development organization aiming to implement its findings into society. R4D stands for Research and 4 D’s: Design, Development, Deployment, and Disruption. Our goals are high-speed research and implementation in society. Website: https://r4d.mercari.com/

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