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Shiseido, a Japanese cosmetics giant, gives a helping hand to young university innovators

September 14, 2022

A group of students from Toyo University in Tokyo, Japan, embarked on an ambitious project to manufacture a new moisturizing hand serum using local products. Their success was partly due to a licensing agreement with Shiseido that allowed them to use the company’s green technology, listed in the WIPO GREEN database, to manufacture their innovation.

Many hands make light work

To slow the spread of COVID-19 infection, people in Japan, like everywhere else, were thoroughly washing their hands and using disinfectants more than ever before. “This caused many people to suffer from rough hands,” said Souta Nakamura, 23, a first-year master's student at Toyo University’s Graduate School of Life.

Mr. Nakamura is president of the TOYO SDGs Students Project, a group of ten undergraduates and postgraduates carrying out initiatives as part of the United Nations (UN) 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and they noticed that this prevention measure led to dry hands.

Professors and students of TOYO SDGs Students Project hold up prototypes of BOISEN. Photo:TOYOUNIVERSITY

“As people spent more time at home in front of their computers rather than going out in 2020 and 2021, they slowly became more conscious about their beauty. A Japanese term meaning ‘at-home beauty treatments’ (巣ごもりエステ) became popular in the country,” Mr. Nakamura explained.

With remote working requirements and the rise, it was mostly at home, through video meetings and conferences, that the TOYO SDGs Students Project conceived of, conceptualized, and coordinated the creation of their innovative hand serum.

BOISEN is a sustainable, environmentally friendly, premium hand serum. The product’s ingredients are locally sourced and include boysenberry extract, a specialty fruit of Tatebayashi City, Gunma Prefecture, a neighboring area of the university's Itakura Campus. The name "BOISEN" hand serum comes from this key, local ingredient.

“We didn’t just want to create another hand cream but a high-quality product, and we are not shy to say it’s also more nourishing and luxurious than some other hand creams,” explained Momoko Furukawa, 20, a third-year undergrad at the Faculty of Global and Regional Studies.

WIPO GREEN spoke to two student representatives of the club, a graduate and an undergrad, for this story. The TOYO SDGs Students Project were also conscious of the environment and wanted to look into sustainable manufacturing processes.

Product and packaging of BOISEN. Photo:TOYOUNIVERSITY

Thanks to their collaboration with Japanese cosmetic and skin care multinational Shiseido, the TOYO SDGs Students Project were able to achieve their goal while minimizing environmental impact by employing Shiseido’s “low-energy manufacturing emulsifier technology.”

Matchmaking Impact Stories

The Challenges

  • Seeking an advanced environmentally sustainable emulsifier to manufacture a locally sourced premium product
  • Collaborating with universities interested in the UN SDGs and utilizing climate-friendly technologies as part of their projects and initiatives

The Match

  • Seeker: TOYO SDGs Students Project is a group of 10 undergraduate and graduate students, with a median age of 22, active in promoting and supporting the UN SDGs through various activities at their school Toyo University. They sought to create a climate-friendly hand serum.
  • Provider: Shiseido Company, Limited, is a Japanese multinational cooperation in cosmetic skin care headquartered in Tokyo. Shiseido holds many patents in green technologies, a number of which are listed on the WIPO GREEN database.

The Impact

  • Shiseido signed a licensing agreement with Toyo University and transferred their “low-energy manufacturing emulsifier technology” to TOYO SDGs Students Project to help the students manufacture a new, environmentally friendly hand cream called BOISEN.
  • Established relationship between Shiseido and Toyo University
  • Over 100 BOISEN products produced thus far with plans to manufacture more and possible retail launch sometime in the future

Giving a helping hand

“In the conventional emulsification method, the entire raw material is heated, which requires a lot of energy, and the heat is lost to the open air. In addition, a large amount of cooling energy is also required,” explained Yasuko Yamamoto from Shiseido’s Intellectual Property Department. An emulsion is a mixture of two or more liquids that are normally unmixable, such as water and oil.

“Our green technology heats only a portion of the raw material, which is then poured into the main water component phase and cooled at room temperature, thereby reducing the energy required for heating and cooling,” said Ms. Yamamoto. This leads not only to a reduction of CO2 emissions in the manufacturing process but also to a cost reduction.

Aiming to contribute to the SDGs through technology licensing, Shiseido, a certified Eco-First Company by Japan's Ministry of the Environment and a WIPO GREEN partner since 2020, contacted several Japanese universities with a proposal to utilize its environmentally friendly technologies listed on the WIPO GREEN database.


Student leaders from Toyo University. Standing in the middle of the photo on the left is Souta Nakamura, President of TOYO SDGs Students Project, presenting BOISEN to Tomohiko Kimura (L), Vice President of Intellectual Property Department at the Shiseido Global Innovation Center, along with Professor Hidetoshi Kitawaki (R) from Toyo University.  The photo on the right is of Momoko Furukawa, a third-year student and member of the club. Photo:TOYOUNIVERSITY

Impressed with the TOYO SDGs Students Project ideas, in September 2021, Shiseido signed a licensing agreement with Toyo University and transferred their “low-energy manufacturing emulsifier technology.” The first bottles of BOISEN were in both partners’ hands by March 2022. “BOISEN is not only a result of COVID, but our lotion would not be here today without signing a licensing agreement with a leading company such as Shiseido to use their sustainable technology,” said Professor Hidetoshi Kitawaki, faculty member and proud mentor to TOYO SDGs Students Project.

The university plans to continue developing cosmetics using this technology as part of its research and educational activities. Both sides have expressed their willingness to continue their partnership in the future.

“After distributing our prototype, many people have told us that they like BOISEN’s fragrance and nonstick texture,” said Mr. Nakamura. TOYO SDGs Students Project’s main activity for the rest of 2022 is conducting market research in hopes of selling BOISEN to members of the general public searching for a solution to rough hands.

The project has also helped the students learn the basics of the intellectual property rights (IPRs) system through their innovation journey. “We feel that we are contributing to society in a real way – all because of IP,” said Ms. Furukawa.

She goes on to say, “We wish to fully utilize this experience and as professionals in the future to improve people’s living standards through innovation. This project and collaboration have opened our eyes to see how fun it can be to take action, to encounter challenges, and to work as a team.”

The WIPO GREEN youth engagement initiative, Young & Green, launched in August 2020, supports youth engagement in sustainable innovation. Our guide, “Addressing climate challenges with innovation. WIPO GREEN guide for youth roundtables,” is designed to help young people better understand how they can use innovation and intellectual property (IP) in their efforts to address climate change.


WIPO GREEN is a global marketplace for sustainable technology, supporting global efforts to address climate change. Through its online database and regional activities, WIPO GREEN connects environmentally friendly technology seekers and providers to catalyze green innovation and accelerate green tech transfer and diffusion. Subscribe to the monthly WIPO GREEN newsletter.