Intellectual Capital

  • The Sumitomo Rubber Group

Intellectual Capital (R&D activities, Intellectual Property Strategies and Other Endeavors Related to Intellectual Capital)

R&D expenses: ¥27.3 Billion
Number of Japanese and foreign patents: 10,290

Guided by our unique belief in the material possibilities of rubber, we have taken on the challenge of developing industry-leading rubber technology and thus created “world firsts” on multiple fronts. Building on this track record, the Sumitomo Rubber Group promotes a wide range of research and development in fields related to Tire, Sports and Industrial Products businesses, thereby securing the driving force that generates products with competitive advantages as well as new growth. In fiscal 2022, R&D spending on such activities and innovation totaled ¥27.3 billion, which accounts for 2.5% of consolidated sales revenue.

We are also nurturing partnerships with and engaged in joint development involving external corporations, universities and research institutions. In 2022, we developed an AI- based program that reproduces judgments exercised by veteran design engineers in the course of tire development through a joint project with NEC Corporation. Moreover, acting in collaboration with Professor Yoshitaka Ishii of Tokyo Institute of Technology and Mr. Muneki Ouchi, a visiting researcher at RIKEN, we have shed new light on the mysteries surrounding the curing process of rubber, which involves chemical reactions between raw rubber and sulfur under intense heat and pressure. As such, our research initiatives have yielded robust outcomes. In addition, Sumitomo Rubber Industries is ranked in the first place in terms of the size of patent assets in the rubber product industry according to a survey undertaken by Patent Result Co., Ltd. in November 2022 to comprehensively assess patent assets held by businesses from both qualitative and quantitative aspects.

Status of Intellectual Capital

  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
R&D expenses (millions of yen) 24,257 25,720 25,780 26,198 24,215 25,447 27,259
Ratio of R&D Expenses to Sales Revenue (%) 3.2 3.8 2.9 2.9 3.1 2.7 2.5
Number of Japanese and Foreign Patents (Number of patents held) 8,761 9,183 9,199 9,156 10,063 9,983 10,290

Intellectual Property Strategies

The Group proactively carries out intellectual property activities that support its businesses.

Specifically, the Group undertakes intellectual property activities focusing on three pillars, namely: 1) “securing intellectual property rights” with regard to such industrial properties as patents, utility models, designs and trademarks; 2) “exercising such rights” to guard against the infringement of Sumitomo Rubber Industries’ intellectual property rights; and 3) “eliminating risk” by developing a structure to defend against attacks by third parties.

In step with the rapid expansion of its overseas operations, the scope of the Group’s intellectual property activities is growing worldwide, encompassing not only Japan but also the U.S.A., Europe and such Asian countries as China, as well as Russia and countries in South America, the Middle East and Africa.

Efforts are now under way to nurture human resources and reinforce our structure to conduct intellectual property activities commensurate with such globalization.

In particular, the Group is providing training sessions for not only Intellectual Property Department members but also employees at every operational base with the aim of raising awareness of intellectual property and upgrading the competencies of the entire workforce.

Such action is facilitating the development of a structure that ensures that intellectual property activities are carried out smoothly and seamlessly on a Group-wide basis. In particular, we are focusing on acquiring more effective rights by assigning IP representatives to Europe.

Focusing on the above-mentioned three pillars, the Group will promote the more efficient implementation of intellectual property activities at a global level.

R&D Activities

With the Sumitomo Rubber Industries’ R&D organization and facilities at the core of our efforts, we promote R&D activities in a wide range of fields related to the Tire, Sports, and Industrial and Other Products businesses in close cooperation with subsidiaries and affiliates around the world. With regard to Tire Business’s tire technology R&D, the Tire Technical Center, located near the Kobe Head Office, serves as the core facility, collaborates with the Europe and USA Technical Centers, and is committed to developing environmentally friendly products on the themes of “raw materials,” “fuel efficiency” and “resource saving,” guided by the underlying concept of “What tire technology can do for the global environment.”

In line with our particular focus on “developing tires boasting superior safety performance as well as capabilities that help reduce environmental burden,” we began incorporating simulations produced using the “K” supercomputer” from 2012 and then its successor “Fugaku” from 2021 into our research and efforts to take on the challenge of developing innovative rubber materials.

In the Sports Business, having established R&D sections at both the Sports Business HQ and Roger Cleveland Golf Company, Inc. in the United States, we are employing computer simulations and other technologies to develop, evaluate and test new technologies and products.

In the Industrial and Other Products Business, we are actively developing new products aimed at accommodating consumer needs in such fields as vibration control, offering high-damping rubber parts, rubber parts for medical applications and rubber parts for office equipment.



Sumitomo Rubber Begins Utilizing the “Fugaku” Supercomputer

In fiscal 2021, our company was among those whose proposals were selected for HPCI (High Performance Computing Infrastructure) system Industrial Use Project research using “Fugaku.” Since we first unveiled our proprietary “ADVANCED 4D NANO DESIGN Tire Materials Development Technology” in 2015, the Sumitomo Rubber Group has used this groundbreaking technology to push ahead with the development of new rubber materials with the aim of achieving simultaneous improvements in three key tire performance traits: fuel efficiency, wet grip and wear resistance. With the powerful “Fugaku” supercomputer now at our disposal, we will bring further advances in ADVANCED 4D NANO DESIGN in order to better respond to the needs of CASE, MaaS and other new automotive innovations so that we can make an even greater contribution to the “Mobility Society of the Future.”

Joint research involving industry-academia collaboration

The Sumitomo Rubber Groups is engaged in the development of new technologies via participation in industry-academia collaboration involving universities boasting cutting-edge technologies.

Contact Major Themes of Recent Initiatives
Tohoku University Rubber Failure Captured with X-Ray CT Scan at 1,000x Acceleration, Successful 4D Observation
Kansai University Developing New Technology to Estimate Tire Wear Utilizing Tire Internal Power Generation Technology
Tohoku University
Kanazawa University
Elucidating the Structure of Tomato Enzymes (Similar to Natural Rubber Synthases)