Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, Daikin Industries Ltd, is the global No. 1 air conditioning manufacturer, with over 88,000 employees, 100 production sites, and more than $27 billion (3.1 trillion Japanese yen) in sales across the 170 countries in which it operates.
Through joint development with partner companies that include customers and startups, the company is aiming to create new value by strengthening the creation of safe and reliable air environments that combine technologies such as indoor air quality diagnostics, ventilation, and disinfection.
Additionally, through the Corporate Venture Capital (CVC) Office in the Technology and Innovation Center established in November 2019 as an organization to promote collaboration with startup companies, Daikin has set aside a fund of 11 billion yen (around $100 million) for investments in a five-year period extending until 2024 and has already invested roughly 3 billion yen in over 10 companies.
Our startups mapping chart highlights 4 investments and 2 partnerships in the smart buildings space over the last three years.
Indoor Air Quality
In May 2022, Daikin Industries invested an unspecified sum in Wlab, a London, UK-based startup, also known as Sensio Air, that uses AI and IoT to monitor indoor allergens. With the support of Plug and Play Japan, Daikin has collaborated with Wlab since 2018 to create an air conditioning solution business that realises safe and secure air and space. With an increasing interest in indoor air quality, the Sensio allergy tracker enables the monitoring of thousands of common allergens, including moulds, pollens, pet dander, smoke, air pollutants in real-time. Sensio Air is said to be the only patented pathogen tracker that can tell the difference between, mould, dust mites, pollen and dander.
In November 2022, Daikin Applied announced that both its Vision and Skyline air handlers will be enhanced with Sorbent Ventilation Technology (SVT) from enVerid Systems, a US specialist indoor air quality specialist, founded in 2010. Creating what Daikin claims to be “the industry's first total-air-quality system that combines the benefits of sorbent media with a class-leading, semi-custom air handler”, this development comes a year after Daikin Applied announced the upgraded Rebel Applied packaged rooftop system with SVT.
In May 2021, 75F announced its most significant collaboration to date with Daikin to design and deploy a new generation of wireless controls and sensing technology. This new suite of cloud-based products is designed to work out of the box with preconfigured profiles and sequences specific to Daikin Applied HVAC equipment. The collaboration has the potential to advance the market by bringing a new generation of sophisticated, affordable cloud-based wireless controls and sensing technology to building management.
Access Control & Electronic Locking
Daikin Industries participated in a funding round of Bitkey in 2021. The Japanese startup founded in 2018, has developed electronic locking technology based on digital key infrastructure using blockchain technology, distributed systems, smart contract technology and encryption technology, with applications for home, offices, hotels, and stores.
Air Conditioning as a Service
WASSHA Inc. is a startup company associated with the University of Tokyo. In Tanzania, where air conditioners are a luxury item, Daikin unveiled Baridi Baridi Inc., an AC subscription service established in April 2021 in partnership with WASSHA Inc. The service allows users to turn on the AC - only on days they need it - through a smartphone app, with no need to purchase the machine itself. Many of the subscribers are restaurants and drug stores, where the cooling effects of these air conditioners have a direct influence on sales.
Indoor Mapping & Location Systems
Daikin Industries, Ltd. announced in April 2020 that it had recently invested approximately $2 million into Silicon Valley-based startup Locix, Inc. This was the first use of corporate venture capital for a company outside Japan. Locix employs spatial intelligence solutions that use a combination of indoor positioning technology, advanced AI, and Wi-Fi to acquire and analyze location, as well as spatial and visual data, to enable actionable insights. With this investment, Daikin aims to reduce labour hours at installation sites by utilizing Locix’s technology, to configure and confirm positioning information of indoor air conditioning units and automate remote monitoring services. Moreover, by detecting and analyzing the presence and movement of people and assets in an office building, Daikin expects to see a solutions business for office spaces emerge.
Daikin has collaborated with startups since 2018 and is a first mover in the HVAC equipment sector to accelerate open innovation and evaluate new business models with a diverse set of partners in the smart buildings space.
This article was written by Daphne Tomlinson, Senior Research Associate at Memoori.