Asahi Kasei Corp. (Asahi Kasei) and NEC Corporation (NEC) have established an analysis platform that allows secure collaboration with data kept confidential during joint development among companies by utilising secure computation technology. With this platform, Asahi Kasei will be able to securely share data among companies such as raw material suppliers, processors, and parts manufacturers in product development in the field of materials, where confidential information is often handled.
Asahi Kasei has started using this analysis platform for R&D in the energy storage field while advancing collaboration with customers. Asahi Kasei will further accelerate the development of materials by leveraging its accumulated expertise of materials informatics (MI) technology through data collaboration with other companies.
Asahi Kasei has promoted MI, an initiative to improve the efficiency of material development by applying machine learning and other artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, since fiscal 2017. Many results have been achieved, leading to the development of new materials in short periods of time through data collaboration and utilisation within the company by utilising MI.
Regarding cooperation with other companies, however, data collaboration among companies in the same industry and among upstream/downstream companies has not progressed, as material development contains highly confidential information. Due to the difficulty of sharing data among companies, it takes time to find the optimal raw material properties and compositions, which makes development periods longer.
With the cooperation of the in-house R&D team in the area of energy storage, Asahi Kasei developed an analysis platform that can perform MI based on data provided by collaborating companies without sharing individual data, utilising NEC's secure computation technology which enables calculation while keeping the data confidential. By working on material development using the data accumulated by multiple companies, it is expected that development periods will be significantly shortened, and that innovative products which could not be created by an individual company will be developed and proposed to society.
The analysis platform was established using a hardware-based trusted execution environment (TEE) method, which is a secure computation technology from NEC. The TEE method requires relatively shorter analysis periods, and enables existing analysis applications written in the widely used programming language Python to operate essentially while concealed, so no complicated secure computation programming is required.
By utilising this technology, it is possible to execute simulations of material development applying Asahi Kasei's MI technology by integrating important data such as raw material information, processing conditions, and evaluation information while they are encrypted.
In addition to advancing collaboration with actual customers, Asahi Kasei will consider utilising this technology not only for material development but also in a wider range of fields, such as optimisation of production plans and cooperation with other companies in the same industry in non-competing fields.
The Asahi Kasei Group is accelerating the co-creation of value provided to society through the borderless connections enhanced by digital innovation while further strengthening DX promotion.
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