OSAKA -- Sharp is launching a matchmaking business to pair "internet of things" startups with manufacturers willing to share underutilized manufacturing equipment.
The Japan-based electronics company, now majority-owned by Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry, is moving to develop new lines of business under ongoing structural reforms. It recently began recruiting startups around Mie Prefecture, east of Osaka.
These companies chiefly develop sensors and other IoT devices. Sharp will find them factories suited to their product and mass production needs.
The plants will be mainly at small and midsize producers of electronic circuits, semiconductor substrates and cast molds. Sharp will tap business contacts toward this end, while the prefecture will bring in manufacturers outside Sharp's network.
Sharp has been supporting startups since last fall by teaching engineers the secrets behind design and product quality.
The company seeks to leverage technologies developed at the startups to develop new in-house products. Sharp also plans to draft promising talent at the fledgling enterprises into the group's fold.
Sharp is slowly restoring production of liquid crystal panels after a temporary production cut. But in the meantime, many suppliers are left to deal with lower plant utilization rates and poor profitability.
The startup-matching program aims to bring them a steady supply of orders and improve their operating rates.