Around the world, about one million animal and plant species face the risk of extinction. Preservation of biodiversity has become an inexorable issue on a global scale, yet only 10% of the global Aichi Targets set in 2010 for the year 2020 have been achieved. As a societal issue, this issue appears to be one of the furthest from being resolved.
Shogoro Fujiki considered the reason for lack of progress in biodiversity preservation to be "it doesn't make money." After earning his doctorate from the Graduate School of Agriculture, Kyoto University, in 2017, he launched Biome and has been working to achieve both biodiversity preservation and business. At Kyoto University, he engaged in the development of technology for wide-area visualization of biodiversity, combining the patterns of tree communities with spectral reflection properties of satellite images. In research lasting over three years in the jungle of tropical Borneo, he saw the site of a former rain forest that had been turned into vacant land stretching to the horizon in every direction through commercial logging, and became convinced that biodiversity preservation can only be solved through economic power.
To tackle the problem, Fujiki believes that biodiversity must be collected in the form of big data and that a biological data platform, accessible to all, must be created. As an approach to biological data collection, he hit upon the idea of using the over four billion smartphones around the world as biological observation bases. He developed an artificial intelligence (AI) technology that automatically identifies species in smartphone photos, using location information and date and time information. Released in the domestic market in 2019, Biome calls itself a "living creature collection app" that actively incorporates gamification and social media elements. So far, it has been used by 320,000 people and has collected about 2 million items of biological distribution data.
While the business is in a domain in which fund-raising is difficult, it has succeeded in raising over 100 million yen in venture capital. It has already built a system that allows it to operate on its own based on sales from the data platform. With initial public offering (IPO) as its aim, Biome is moving ahead with expansion overseas, development of new services, and other business expansion.