It has been more than two months since Nanophoton left the Suita campus of Osaka University, the place where the company was founded. Immediately after the move, there were still cardboard boxes in the corner of the office, but now it is clean and tidy, and all the employees seem to have gotten used to the new environment. With cameras in hand, we took a tour of the company and asked the employees about their comfort in the new office and their aspirations for the coming year. (e-mail Newsletter editor-in-chief / freelance writer Takeshi Nemoto)
“We love our new office,” said Kengo Fujiwara, Executive Director, with a smile. “The company used to be located in a corner of a university where laboratories were gathered, but we took off from there and got our own place. We have been using the large space freely, such as free addressing for employees’ seats and opening a showroom. I believe that the spaciousness allows for a variety of ideas to be born. Also, now that we are outside the university, our customers seem to feel closer to us both in distance and emotionally,” he said, emphasizing the effect of the relocation.
This relocation and opening of the showroom was done under the circumstances of COVID-19 pandemic. Naturally, there must have been risks. Mr. Fujiwara said, “I think it was good that we were able to make decisions under such circumstances. Although we were able to secure a certain level of sales, the pandemic restricted our sales activities and affected our sales. However, if we had been busy, the relocation might not have been as smooth as it was. The market for Raman microscopes has been expanding. After this pandemic was settled, we were able to prepare the showroom for customers to consider the purchase of Raman microscopes when they thought about it.
The next fiscal year will be the second year of a five-year mid-term plan to increase sales volume. “Next year will be the second year of our five-year mid-term plan to increase sales volume. Fujiwara said.
Mr. Katsuhito Aoki from the Tokyo showroom was also there that day. He visited the Osaka showroom for the first time to do online demo measurement using RAMANdrive, a Raman microscope with wafer stage, which is not available in Tokyo. How do you like the new office?
“The access from Tokyo is better than before, and the time required after getting off the Shinkansen at Shin-Osaka has been reduced by about 20 minutes. The office is bright and open, and it’s nice and spacious.”
Tokyo is still in a state of emergency due to COVID-19. Since last year, COVID-19 disaster has led to an increase in the number of online meetings, and the time saved by not having to travel is being used effectively for customers, such as measuring samples with a Raman microscope. “The most important thing is for customers to actually see the equipment and learn how to use it and its applications. I hope the pandemic will be converged soon,” he said.
What does the area around the new office look like? Nobune Toba, secretary to the president, Ai Shimode, and Rie Inoue, assistant to the administration department, have decided to make every Friday “Dining Out Day,” and the three of them go out to eat together. Ms. Shimode said, “There are many more fashionable restaurants than when I was at the university. Ms. Toba said, “Osaka University’s Minoh Campus opened in April, and a new complex will open in May.
Yusuke Shiozaki, Manufacturing and Service General Manager, has changed his commute from walking to driving his own car due to the relocation. He is now considering commuting by moped. The relocation has allowed us to “get away from the image of being a venture company from Osaka University that rented a room in the university, and now we have a showroom that looks good. I think this sends a message both inside and outside the company that we will grow even more.
When I asked him about his aspirations for the next fiscal year, he said, “We will build a manufacturing and service system that can respond to the expansion of sales volume, including more efficient equipment and automation.
The R&D center, where we do research and development, was also moved with us, but it is located a little farther away from the showroom and offices.
As we entered, Mr. Kaitai Saito, in charge of R&D, showed us the RAMANtouch vioLa, an ultraviolet/deep ultraviolet Raman microscope that will be displayed in the showroom in the future. the RAMANtouch vioLa will be attached to an external ultraviolet/deep ultraviolet laser. At Nanophoton’s R&D center, there are currently three types of lasers to choose from, depending on the application. They also have a visible light laser inside the device, with the ability to quickly switch between visible and ultraviolet light.
Near this equipment, research and development of new products is being conducted. We hope to be able to introduce the results of our research in the near future.
At the end of the last issue, I wrote, “In the next issue, I’ll try to think of ways to deepen this free research,” but I decided to post it in the next issue. Please wait for a while.