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With two patents under her belt, Aichi junior high school girl looks to help other inventive kids

Chunichi Shimbun

Asuka Kamiya, 14, a second-year student from Meisho Junior High School in Anjo, Aichi Prefecture, has established with her father a company to help elementary and junior high school students apply for patents and commercialize their inventions.

By using her experience in patenting her own invention two years ago, she hopes to help turn other students’ unique ideas into products.

When she was a fifth-grader, for a science project she conducted over a summer holiday, Kamiya created a can-recycling bin that uses a magnet to automatically separate steel and aluminum containers. Kamiya applied for a patent at the recommendation of her father, Toyoaki, 42, who runs a liquor sales consulting firm and had obtained a patent himself for an invention related to wine.

She was granted the patent for her “low-cost can-recycling bin” when she was a sixth-grader.

After she entered junior high school and joined the basketball team, she discovered the importance of teammates supporting one another and she was reminded of the people who helped her apply for a patent and spread her idea. In June, she received her second patent for devising a way to separate plastic bottles as well. Then she thought it was her turn to help others, she said.

Under the advice of Yasuteru Nimura, 38, chief coordinator of Anjo Business Concierge — a support base for small and medium-size companies in Anjo — she started the company Yaku ni Tatsu Mono Tsukuro (Let’s Make Something Useful) in September, with herself as the president and her father as the managing director who oversees day-to-day operations. The office is located at the premises where her father runs his company.

Next April, Kamiya plans to start selling her patented can-recycling bin. The company collaborated with Hekikai Pack, a cardboard processing company in the same city, to produce a trial kit made of cardboard.

The price for the kit is not yet decided, but profits will be used for the company’s operating funds. Children who purchase the kit can experiment by placing the magnet in different areas and work through the same trial-and-error process that Kamiya went through.

The company is collecting funds to manufacture the kit through the Readyfor crowdfunding service. The goal is to collect ¥1.5 million, and the crowdfunding campaign runs until Nov. 13. The firm plans to gather ideas from other children through its website and sales of the learning kit. Then, with the cooperation of local firms, it will provide support to commercialize and apply for patents.

“I want to support her ideas,” Kamiya’s father said. “I hope that children can cultivate their ability to think.”

This section, appearing Tuesdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published Nov. 2.