Design a new business development ecosystem by involving people from within and outside the company through a multistakeholder co-creation workshop

NHK Educational produces educational contents for NHK, Japan’s national TV channel. The challenge that they faced was developing a new business using their existing content assets. The female producer that took on this challenge started a cross-organizational business development workshop with a bottom-up approach.


Create a creative mindset among employees with a bottom-up approach

Design a co-creation environment by involving people across and beyond the company

Grow existing strengths, and make a system that allows the organization to continue the activities on its own

Design Research


Business Development



To create a new business ecosystem that can develop new business using NHK Educational’s assets

What BIOTOPE did

Designed and managed a new business incubation system that let new learning-related businesses emerge organically, by gathering people from various occupations related to learning, both inside and outside the company

What BIOTOPE did

Supported the creation of prototypes in order to embody the seeds of new businesses that were born through this system


Two business proposals were approved, and continued towards development and implementation

Yukiko Narumi

NHK Educational
Senior Producer at Department of Contents Business Development Received an NHK gold prize for the social media-integrated TV program HAIKU MASTERS on NHK World. Currently develops educational contents using new media, such as agricultural teaching materials with VR tools.

Create businesses with a bottom-up approach


2 years ago, I moved from TV production to the Business Creation Department. Once I left the actual production of TV programs and got a birds-eye overview of the entire organization, I noticed that we had a wealth of content assets and production capabilities that were largely left unexploited. We were also clearly a vertically aligned organization. Our role is to create TV programs requested by NHK, and this made it very hard for individual employees to independently undertake projects they are interested in, and work together effectively with other departments. I thought of what I could do to change this culture, and the result was the Ideation Cafe that I launched together with Kunitake Saso. It is a bottom-up, cross-organizational workshop for the development of new businesses using our existing learning-related content assets.


Involve people both across and beyond the company


It was my first time to hold a workshop, but people from all over the organization came to participate; from new recruits to executives. Saso helped to gather participants from other companies as well. The gathering of people from such diverse backgrounds led to vigorous discussions, and we collected nine ideas in a document called “Proposals for large-scale business development”. One of the proposals was approved, and it resulted in the launch of a business the following year. I have also received praise personally for the planning and operation of the Ideation Cafe, and received the Presidential Award for it.


Share management’s sense of urgency


When we were launching the Ideation Cafe, Saso told me that “a bottom-up approach can only succeed if everyone shares a sense of urgency about the future, similar to that often sensed by management.” Thanks to this advice, we knew to focus on the development of new business ideas, lest the workshop turn into a mere study group. The mindset of NHK Educational employees changed through cooperation with other companies, and ideas finally connected to actual business.


Co-creation through increased involvement


Thanks to Saso’s mediation, NHK Media Technology joined our project in the second year. We thus achieved collaboration among NHK affiliate companies. We now had a place to not only make ideas into reality, but also to learn about new technologies and jointly think about how to turn them into a viable business. With the participation of the administrative division, we also created new connections among other NHK affiliates, giving birth to new horizontal cooperation.


Connect different cultures


One important development was clarifying each company’s field of expertise. My company is skilled in devising plans and outputting ideas, but we don’t know our way around technology or business. By having NHK Media Technology help us out with the technical aspects, and startups with the business side, the road to implementation went much more smoothly. When company culture and industry terminology differed, BIOTOPE stepped in to translate between and connect us.


Learn to do it by yourself


In the course of running the Ideation Cafe, we noticed that we had adopted a production process completely different from our usual operation. Before we knew it, we had learned how to carry it out all by ourselves. We were used to writing proposals as one A4-page summaries, but now we were spontaneously employing visual aids and prototypes for them. This was a fascinating development.


Support to develop strengths


We have strong confidence in BIOTOPE’s ability to support in building a natural framework for us. They find each individual’s, department’s and company’s strengths, and facilitate workshops to help us develop them. Working together with them gives a strong sense of progress in the right direction.

Did we create lasting change?

NHK’s Educational initiative to create a place for ideation spread to the mother company and other affiliates, and expanded across the NHK group.

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