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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 want to help all Sumitomo Corporation employees to develop their business ideas. These ideas  can be absolutely anything from completely new business to an idea that is focused on improving operations across all business units and group functions in the post-COVID-19 focus. We’re also interested in hearing from individuals in the business who come to the program with problems and/or opportunities in any area. The goal of the program 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 program in any way.

Who can apply to 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 Americas.

You do not need permission from your manager or superiors to apply.

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

When is the deadline for applying?

September 22nd, 2021 at 23:59 EST.

CODE for the Bridge: 3099

I have an idea, how can I apply?

You apply through the Bridge online, 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 are your goals for this program. Don’t hold back in telling us how great you are! You can also find a detailed question list under this link.

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 L Marks team to improve and update your idea.

Who owns Intellectual Property Right (IPR)?

Varies at different stages of the program. Basically, SCOA owns the IPR of business ideas when they are commercialized.

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 anyone from Sumitomo join my team?

Any employee of the Sumitomo Corporation Group in the Americas 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.

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

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

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.

How will this affect my normal working hours?

You will be eligible to use 20% of 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 need to implement your idea, your own preference and Sumitomo leadership sign off.

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

External members are permitted to join your team for the 0-1 Challenge at the application stage, the best formation of your team will be discussed with L Marks after Pitch Day. Any external members will need to sign designated paperwork administered by  SCOA CCG.

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 share tips to help you to  improve your idea and application!

The Program

What is the 0-1 Challenge like?

We believe that we can offer strong support to employees developing fantastic ideas for the business. The goal of the program is to have a validated business idea with product-market fit and a well-rounded business case to support. 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.

Has Sumitomo Corporation run the 0-1 Challenge before?

Yes, the first 0-1 Challenge was run in 2018 was by Sumitomo Corporation from Tokyo.

For 2019, during the second year, SCOA CCG partnered with L Marks and customized the program for the Americas by focusing on learning and development tools, methodologies, as well as providing access to mentors with startups expertise.

Over the past 2 years, a total of 11 teams from all across the Americas region have made it into Program Live. This year, up to 10 teams will be able to progress into the Program Live phase and receive support from mentors and L Marks as well as workshops from the University of Cambridge.

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

The program has 4 stages:

  1. Applications stage – Open from July 14th – Sep 22nd 2021
  2. Pitch your idea at Pitch Day – October 26th 2021
  3. Validation and idea development during Program Live – From November 2021 – March 2022
  4. Mid-point Bootcamp – TBD
  5. Demo Day – March 23rd, 2022

Please see the timeline for more information.

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

The program itinerary is designed to help you create game-changing products or services, or improve the way that Sumitomo Corporation does business in the new post-COVID-19 environment. For 18 weeks 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 program will be unique – we tailor the mentoring and education programs to meet your needs. Each participant will also get access to the L Marks e-learning tool, accessible through the 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 program?

  • 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
  • Receive exclusive workshops and education from the University of Cambridge
  • 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 program and gain a Sumitomo/L Marks certification in Innovation and Intrapreneurship
  • Gain visibility and status among your peers as a recognised Sumitomo innovation Champion
  • Broaden your network through working with highly-experienced and renowned mentors, startups and experts

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

Both Pitch & Demo Day will hosted in the SCOA New York Office and it will be possible for you to either travel to these destinations or join via video conferencing. We also hold events like Week 1 Onboarding and Mid-point review which ideally happen in person but the destinations will be announced after the program starts.

What happens if a team member isn’t actively contributing to the idea?

We are looking for participants to be fully engaged in the 0-1 Challenge after Pitch Day. If you are selected for the program, you will be able to spend up to 20% of your working week working on it. Through the Bridge platform, we will also be able to track progress and the participation rate of each team and its’ members.

If there is a situation where we see individuals not participating in the program activities, we may review the situation with the 0-1 Challenge Program team, the team leader and L Marks. If you feel unable to fully participate in the program after Pitch Day please let the L Marks team know and we will find a solution.


How does the judging process work?

These are the criteria that your idea will be scored on:

  1. Idea – How innovative & unique is the idea as well as how applicable & achievable is it? The company puts priority to ideas which are not replicating current company activities (from another region or existing one).
  2. Growth Opportunities – How quickly can the idea be integrated? What’s the commercial potential? How easy will it be to provide value? How technically complicated is it?
  3. Alignment with Sumitomo values – How well does the idea fit with Sumitomo’s values?
  4. Team* – How well equipped is the team/individual in order to succeed in terms of experience & understanding of the sector & motivations for joining the program? (Will be taken into consideration during Pitch Day and Demo Day)

How many teams are progressed to each stage?

Depending on the number and quality  of applications, we expect to invite about 15 ideas/teams to Pitch Day, then up to 10 teams to Program Live,  and 1-2 teams to advance pass demo day to work on their ideas full time for 1 year, which finding sponsorship in SC HQ Japan.

What if I have more than one idea?

You are able to submit more than one idea but please focus on developing your most promising idea.

How will my personal details be used?

Please read 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 program 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 program. There is an opportunity to get fund after you pass the Demo Day but not within the Program.

Where will the mentors come from?

There are two types of mentors. Internal Mentors from within Sumitomo and External Mentors sourced from the L Marks mentoring community, which is comprised of former startup founders, entrepreneurs-in-residence and business leaders who can provide valuable insights and advice on developing out your idea.

Is there a way for me to listen to the workshop presentation online?

Yes, we have recorded a voiceover of the 0-1 challenge presentation used in the workshops for you. We will upload the presentation after our last Info Workshop and Business Tips Session.

What are some examples of ideas from last year's program?

Below is a few examples of ideas that were taken to the next stage in last years program. 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.

  • Rice Phone – To make silica from rice husk and use it in several industries
  • True Foods – Simple, quick and delicious freeze dried meals

If you’d like to see more detail about the program last year and the ideas submitted please see 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 program here, plus resources that you can use to learn more. Further than that, by getting involved in the program and submitting your idea, you will get knowledge from experience too!