CFK Valley Japan was founded in 2014 as a branch office of CFK Valley e.V. to bundle the activities of the association in Japan and to open up this interesting market for the members of the association. Even after the merger with Carbon Composites e. V. to form Composites United e. V., the cooperation remains in place, is renamed CU Japan and the association is represented by Hiroji Nishikawa as contact person in Japan.
The main objective of CFK Valley Japan is to promote cooperation in joint R&D projects that aim to realize innovations in the field of lightweight construction in order to strengthen lightweight construction technology and mobility industries in both countries. The aim is to bring together the world leaders in materials technology and process technology from Japan and Germany in order to prepare jointly for the challenges of the future. Innovations in the field of composite materials are to be realized for the benefit of the partners involved. The overall aim is to develop and establish sustainable business relations between the two countries for the benefit of both sides.
Japan is considered the world leader in carbon fiber production technology and carbon fiber manufacturing. The Japanese global market leader Toray, for example, is Boeing’s in-house supplier.. Germany is very strong in the field of process technology, especially with its expertise in mechanical engineering and automation. In cooperation with its Japanese partners, the CU association offers its experience and knowledge in network strategy and management, because innovations are only possible if the partners exchange information more openly. The cooperation between Japan and Germany is a perfect complement to both sides in bringing together the right international partners for competitive advantages in the field of fiber composite technologies.
For this reason, Composites United e.V. is striving for close cooperation with its Japanese partners. Both sides can benefit from each other.
Already since 2012 there have been close contacts to Japan and a regular exchange, which has been substantially supported by politics. In addition to the Ministry of Economics of Lower Saxony, represented by Mr. Niermann, Prime Minister Weil and the Mayor of the city of Stade, Mrs. Nieber, have also been involved. On March 12, 2014, on the occasion of the JEC World in Paris, CFK Valley Japan, the first international branch of the former CFK Valley e.V., was founded at the National Composite Center (NCC) at the University of Nagoya. The MoU was signed by Professor Herrmann, the Chief Technology Officer of CFK Valley e.V., and Prof. Ishikawa, the Director of the NCC at the University of Nagoya.
Shortly after the foundation of CFK Valley Japan, the cooperation in Japan was expanded in 2015 to include the Innovative Composites Materials Research and Development Center (ICC) at the Kanazawa Institute of Technology and the Fukui CFRP Industrialization Center, thus providing significant support to the Japanese government’s Japanese Composites Highway Consortium. The city of Stade and the state of Lower Saxony are very interested in a lively international exchange with the prefecture of Ishikawa northwest of Tokyo. In 2015, Prime Minister Weil himself signed a declaration of intent with the local governor Mr. Tanimoto in Hanover for intensified future cooperation.
In 2017, CFK Valley e.V. received funding under the BMBF’s “Internationalization of Leading-Edge Clusters, Future Projects and Similar Networks” (InterSpiN) funding measure. The resulting internationalization project was used to strengthen relations with Japan and was implemented with Japan as the partner country in 2018 and 2019. In addition to the development of an internationalization concept for the association, this two-year phase focused on the establishment of innovation projects with German-Japanese project teams.
Relationships were further intensified, especially with the Japanese project partner ICC. In order to put together the German-Japanese project teams and to work out the joint projects, four trips to Japan and two meetings in Europe, one in Stade and one in Paris, took place in the two years.
On November 1 and 2, 2018, CFK Valley e.V. succeeded in bringing together a total of 20 network partners from Japan and Germany for an exchange event. The Japanese business delegation met German business and political representatives in Stade. In the presence of the Mayor of the Hanseatic City of Stade, Mrs. Silvia Nieber, three concrete technical projects on the use of new materials in various applications and sectors were discussed and advanced.
The start of the joint technical projects was 01.04.2020. The Japanese and German companies are now actively working on the implementation for 3 years. Further exciting joint activities, such as the JEC Forum in Japan, and mutual visits are also planned for the future.