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Hitachi to focus R&D spending on 'internet of things'

TOKYO -- Hitachi will concentrate research and development spending on the broad "internet of things" and move faster to open R&D bases outside Japan, the Tokyo-based company said Tuesday.

The Japanese conglomerate has turned to a business model that melds products and services and has begun to promote itself as a collaborator for business innovation in the internet of things era. The company fashioned the new R&D policy, which covers the years to fiscal 2018, to help it reach the goals of its midterm business plan.

Last fiscal year, internet of things-related research accounted for 24% of the money Hitachi invested in new business creation and basic R&D.

Now the company intends to raise that percentage to 64% and to bolster research that makes use of artificial intelligence (AI), big-data analytics and other advanced information technologies.

By fiscal 2018, the company intends to have a global staff of 2,900 researchers, or 300 more than in fiscal 2015.

The company will station the majority of those new hires at bases in the West and in China. They will fortify Hitachi's research personnel in the fields of AI and analytics.

In April, Hitachi opened a research base in Guangzhou, China, with a focus on internet of things applications for the manufacturing sector. That marked its 13th internet of things base worldwide and the third in China, following facilities in Beijing and Shanghai.

Hitachi is also stepping up its opening of global collaborative innovation centers, where the company works with customers to devise business models. It opened the Global Center for Social Innovation -- North America in California's Silicon Valley in January, and by fiscal 2018 it plans to open similar centers in Beijing and London.

In related news, Hitachi also announced Tuesday that it will build a facility for collaborative innovation on the grounds of its Central Research Laboratory in Tokyo. The new building will serve as a place where Hitachi can work with customers to develop new services.

(Nikkei)

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