ITOCHU Announces Investment in the Start-up Couger, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Developer

January 20, 2020

ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Yoshihisa Suzuki, President & COO; hereinafter “ITOCHU”) announced today that a basic agreement of capital and business alliance has been concluded with Couger Inc. (headquartered in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; Atsushi Ishii, CEO; hereinafter “Couger”).

Couger has a track record of rich game development, including one of the top-selling online games in Japan, and of developing a large-scale search engine, as well as possesses expertise on game AIs with human-like emotions, technologies for AI reliability in blockchain, and world-leading technologies for image recognizing AIs that read and analyze human expressions and gestures. The human-like AI agent Connectome, independently developed by Couger by mobilizing those technologies, can attempt communication with people by also using expressions and movements. Compared to general voice AI agents, it has demonstrated positive results of a high response rate, including replies to questions. It therefore enables more active communication and transmission of information.

It is expected that the utilization of human-like AI agents with advanced recognition technologies has the potential of solving problems and developing services in a wide range of areas, such as dealing with the chronic manpower shortage in retail, healthcare, and education as well as developing services for sales promotion in and using data from advertisement, entertainment, tourism, and so forth.

ITOCHU will not only invest in Couger, but also support their expansion in Japan and abroad by using the ITOCHU Group’s network. Moreover, we will engage in problem-solving and service development with market-oriented ideas emphasizing market and consumer needs in a wide range of fields including nursing care, education, and entertainment as well as with companies in the lifestyle consumption fields that are ITOCHU’s forte.

ITOCHU’s medium-term management plan Brand New Deal 2020 aims for the evolution of business models that use new technologies, and this initiative agrees with that. Through this initiative, the aim is not simply to reduce manpower and automate work using AI technologies, but also to create new services.