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Frequently asked questions

We have gathered a list of the most frequently asked questions. Don’t worry if your question isn’t listed below, you can always contact us via the Contact form and we will make sure to answer all your questions.


Is my idea right for the 0-1 Challenge?

We welcome and encourage any type of new business idea which aligns with Sumitomo’s values. Think about all the ideas that could benefit Sumitomo’s future and if there are ideas that can add value to the business. We’re also interested in hearing from individuals in the business who come to the programme with problems and/or opportunities in any area. The goal of the programme is to bring together employees with ideas and capability to create new solutions for Sumitomo Corporation. So please apply if you have any form of an idea or if you’re just interested in being part of the programme in any way.

Who can join the 0-1 Challenge?

Anyone can apply, regardless of age, position or years of service but you must be an employee of the Sumitomo Corporation Group* based in the EMEA&CIS region.

For those wanting to join an existing team: Any employee of the Sumitomo Corporation Group in the EMEA&CIS region is able to join a team and will request to join via The Bridge Portal. You will need to be accepted by the team leader in order to be a member of the team. Please note that the maximum number of members in a team will be 3.

If there are any discrepancies in your team, L Marks has the authority to remove a team member from the team and programme.

*Employees of SC group companies: Please contact your related business unit in case you would like to join if your company decided to participate in the programme.


When is the deadline for applying?

20th September 2021 at 23:59 BST

I have an idea; how can I apply?

You apply through the Bridge, which is an online portal located in the website homepage. We’ll ask you for some basic information about yourself, such as name and job title*. Then we’ll ask for some details on your idea, why it’s good for Sumitomo Corporation, your reasons for participating in the 0-1 Challenge and what your goals for this programme are. Don’t hold back in telling us how great you are! You can also find a detailed question list under this link.

*To view how we use your personal details, please read our privacy policy.

What if I have more than one idea?

At this stage, we are only accepting one idea per person. So please focus on developing your most promising idea and submit that one only.

Can I apply with the same idea as 2020?

Yes, you can apply with the same idea; however, please make sure you have used the feedback from the previous year to improve on the idea and do/make the relevant research/changes.

I don’t have an idea, but would like to be involved in the 0-1 Challenge?

Yes, you can request to join an un-submitted idea as a team member. You can do this on The Bridge Portal. If you think you can contribute to the team, let them know! If this idea is submitted, inform the team leader and L Marks.

Can a team consist of only me?

Yes, participants can submit a business idea as a team of one, although we would like you to have a team name for your idea. The 0-1 Challenge is based on collaboration, so we would like to see individuals showing an understanding on what types of skills/people they would like to see join their team at a later stage; and that’s why your application will not be scored lower for submitting individually. 

What questions will appear in the application?

We would like a description of your idea, along with some information regarding who the idea would benefit, and why do you think your idea is a good fit for the Sumitomo Corporation. Additionally, we would like to know your expertise surrounding the idea or business area. It’s fine if you are not an expert, as the 0-1 Challenge is collaborative, there is the opportunity to add extra team members to your idea who can support.

The Application

How long will the application take?

We expect the application to take around 15-20 minutes once you are clear on the business idea you want to submit.

How will this affect my normal working hours?

You will be eligible to use 20% of your working hours to develop your idea after qualifying for Pitch Day and if your idea is successful at Demo Day, there is the opportunity to spend 100% of your time on your idea.

If my idea gets chosen for implementation, will there be an option for me to work on it full time?

This will depend on the requirements for your idea, your own preference and Sumitomo leadership sign off.

Can external members from outside of the Sumitomo Corporation join my team?

External members will not be permitted to join your team for the 0-1 Challenge.

Should I apply even though I’m worried about my idea failing?

Absolutely. People who try and fail learn more than people who don’t try at all so please apply. If you’d like to consult your idea with someone, please book a consulting session with L Marks and one of our team members will happily help you improve your idea and application!

The Programme

What is the 0-1 Challenge like?

Sumitomo is embracing innovation by allowing employees to create new business opportunities and providing all the resources to support development. It is a great opportunity to learn entrepreneurial skills, be instrumental in Sumitomo’s future and take your career to the next level. There will be a lot of learning and development for all participants, as well as the chance to receive mentoring from our partners, L Marks and other internal/external support members. 

Please do check out the testimonials on the website where fellow employees have given their thoughts.

Has Sumitomo Corporation run the 0-1 Challenge before?

Yes, the first 0-1 Challenge 2018 was run by Sumitomo Corporation from Tokyo and the last 2 programmes have been run from London. 22 teams have been invited to Pitch Day and overall, there have been 9 teams that made it into the programme – from Düsseldorf, Accra, Dar es Salaam, London, Moscow, Luanda, Al Khobar and Johannesburg. The partner company running the programme is L Marks and their team will provide focused learning and development tools, methodologies as well as access to mentors and startups expertise. With this support, each team will get the most from this year’s process.

What is the process & when is the 0-1 Challenge running?

The programme has 4 stages: 

  1. Applications stage – Open from 4th week of July 2021 – September 20th 2021
  2. Pitch your idea at Pitch Day – 25th October 2021
  3. Validation and idea development during Programme Live – From November 2021 to April 2022
  4. Mid-point Bootcamp – Mid-February 2022
  5. Demo Day – Late April 2022

Please see the timeline for more information.

What does the day-to-day look like on the 0-1 Challenge?

The programme itinerary is designed to help you create game-changing products or services. For approximately 16 weeks after pitch day, you will be focusing on validation and development of your idea with support and guidance on each step from your mentors and L Marks.

Each participant’s experience with the programme will be unique – we tailor the mentoring and education programmes to meet your needs. Each participant will also get access to the L Marks e-learning tool, accessible through their Bridge platform, which provides lots of knowledge and extra information on how to develop your idea further. Going through the Bridge learning content, you will learn important aspects of building a startup, from validating your assumptions, through testing it with your potential customers and then building a business case around it.

What are the benefits for applying to the programme?

  • Significant exposure to the Sumitomo senior leadership team as you work on highly visible innovation projects
  • Learn and practice new innovation skills, tools and techniques that you will be able to apply in your daily role to make you a “stand out” performer
  • Turn your idea into a real business
  • Grow your network with people from the wider Sumitomo organisation
  • Become a member of the prestigious cohort to graduate from the programme and gain a Sumitomo/L Marks certification in Innovation and Intrapreneurship
  • Gain visibility and status among your peers as a recognised Sumitomo innovation Champion
  • Connect and grow your business idea with the support and knowledge of leading global investors from Venture Capital and independents.

Where is Pitch & Demo Day and will I have to travel to attend?

Pitch Day & Demo Day will be held virtually given the COVID-19 and company direction to reduce carbon emission.


How does the judging process work?

There will be a number of criteria that your idea will be scored on such as:

  1. Team – How well equipped is the team/individual in order to succeed in terms of experience & understanding of the sector & motivations for joining the programme?
  2. Idea – How innovative & unique is the idea as well as how applicable & achievable is it? Does the idea differentiate itself from current and existing businesses? Do you show any research to prove its potential?
  3. Scalibility – What is the potential for Sumitomo to scale this idea within mid-term period? What’s the commercial potential? How easy will it be to provide value? How technically complicated is it?​
  4. Alignment with Sumitomo future values – How well does the idea fit with Sumitomo’s values? ​What is the potential to implement into Sumitomo business and collaborators?

How many applicants are progressed to each stage?

Dependent on the number of applications, we expect to progress around 15 ideas to Pitch Day and then around 5 ideas to Demo Day with around 1 idea progressing to the second year.

How will my personal details be used?

Please read our Privacy Policy and the Program Terms note that your personal details will not be shared with other applicants.


Will Sumitomo Corporation invest in the ideas?

There are many factors that go into the investment process. The programme is designed to allow you to test out your business assumptions and create a business case, giving you plenty of benefits that the participants receive throughout the entire programme. There is an opportunity to get funded after you pass the Demo Day but not within the Programme.

Where will the mentors come from?

After you pass the Pitch Day, we will provide mentors based on your business idea. One of them is from relevant business units who supports you to connect to internal parties aiming to embody your idea to a concrete business model; another is venture capitalist or angel investor who suits to advise from an external viewpoint. Also, L Marks and the corporate planning team in each region are supporting day-to-day work if you need any supports.

What are some examples of ideas from previous programmes?

Below is a few examples of ideas that were taken to the next stage in last years programme. However, we would urge you not to be influenced by these ideas and to feel free to apply with any idea at all. Whether it’s a small incremental innovation to a software, product or process or even a brand new business – as long as it improves or advances the Sumitomo business, we welcome it.

  • Smart waste to energy technology
  • Aquaponics technology (Agriculture)
  • Remote healthcare and logistics technology
  • Support devices for breastfeeding mothers
  • Automated drinks technology in bars and pubs
  • A language learning platform for children with multilingual families.
  • Maggot farming in Africa
  • Health-care platform in Africa
  • Recycling of tyres to produce carbon black in Europe and CIS

If you’d like to see more detail about the programme last year and the ideas submitted please see on the content section.


Where can I learn more about innovation and intrapreneurship?

You can learn much more on the content section on the website. We will put videos from the last years programme here, plus resources that you can use to learn more. Further than that, by getting involved in the programme and submitting your idea, you will get knowledge from experience too!