ITOCHU Announces Strengthening of its Femtech Initiatives with Virtual Office

July 27, 2023

ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Keita Ishii, President & COO; hereinafter “ITOCHU”) announced today that it will strengthen its Femtech initiatives through the Virtual Office*1 platform for cross-organizational collaboration (internal spare-time occupation program).

In October 2022 Virtual Office was launched on a trial basis. It is an online platform that enables employees to effectively use their time to be involved in projects of their high interest and enthusiasm apart from their main work. Approximately 40 employees from different workplaces, age, gender, duties and other attributes participated in the five projects selected for the trial. One of the projects was in the area of Femtech. After the formal introduction of the Virtual Office in April 2023, a wide range of projects were suggested internally, and a total of 16 projects will be implemented in FYE 2024. This time, approximately 80 employees, twice the number of employees in the trial, will spend about six months engaged in a discussion to create new businesses on a project-by-project basis beginning in August 2023.

The Virtual Office Femtech project was selected and will continue on from the trial for FYE 2024. The verification of business creation in the area of Femtech will continue to be assessed with a high degree of freedom. During the Virtual Office Femtech project trial, it came to notice that the health issues faced by individual female employees are growing to be complex, reflecting the active participation of women and changes in their workstyles. On the other hand, it was recognized that there are still challenges for the society to be fully informed of the technologies and services that hold the key to solving these issues.

Corresponding to the above, ITOCHU has decided to take the following new initiatives, with the leading role played by the Virtual Office Femtech project members in collaboration with fermata Inc. (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Amina Sugimoto, CEO; hereinafter “fermata”) which entered a capital and business alliance with ITOCHU last fiscal year.*2 Through these initiatives, ITOCHU will increase the popularity of Femtech both internally and externally and identify market needs, with the goal of business development in the future.

New initiatives

1. Internal Femtech exhibition for ITOCHU Group employees hosted by Virtual Office (August 23, 2023)

Approximately 40 of the latest Femtech products will be showcased with the cooperation of fermata, with the goal of acquiring user insights (the psychology and subconscious thinking behind users’ behaviors). After the exhibition, ITOCHU will work together with fermata to discover ideas for new business development based on the acquired employee opinions. In acquiring user insights, ITOCHU will collaborate with Flora Corporation, which has strengths in research and data analytics in the femtech industry.
In addition, the exhibition will welcome as a special guest Ms. Sputniko!, President and Representative Director of Cradle Inc. who promotes diversity and inclusion.

2. Promoting Femtech Fes! 2023 as the lead sponsor (February 2024)

One of the largest Femtech events will be held by fermata at Roppongi Academyhills on the three days from February 9th (Fri) to February 11th (Sun) 2024. This event will be sponsored by countries’ ministries, agencies and embassies. ITOCHU has decided to support this event as its lead sponsor, believing that this initiative will help aid the active participation of women in society and that it is linked to its “Sampo-yoshi” mission.

In accordance with a basic policy item in the current Medium-term Management Plan, “Enhancing our contribution to and engagement with the SDGs through business activities,” ITOCHU will continue to support people’s lives and accelerate the expansion of products and services which help eliminate worries and solve issues related to women’s physical health, which is a social issue, aiming to establish a society that is comfortable for all people to live in.

Outline of Virtual Office

Femtech Fes! 2022 (It attracted a total of approx. 2,900 visitors over three days.) *Photos: fermata Inc.