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Sony launches its own crowdfunding platform

Sony has launched a crowdfunding program for getting its own fresh concepts off the ground.

The Japanese company hasn’t had an easy time of things of late, with all except a few of its key departments losing money or failing to make a profit.

With CEO Kazuo Hirai aggressively streamlining the company’s portfolio in recent years and selling off unprofitable elements in a bid to generate cash, some may have wondered where that famous Sony innovation was going to come from in future.

Sony’s answer is pretty innovative in itself.

First Flight is a Kickstarter-like service that will find and finance new project ideas from Sony employees through crowdfunding. The platform also incorporates e-commerce elements, allowing backers to purchase and pre-order new devices developed by those Sony employees.

At the moment, the list of products is small. There are two finished Sony projects ready for pre-order – the MESH Smart DIY kit and the FES e-ink watch. The HUIS Remote Controller, meanwhile, is an e-paper-based universal remote that’s currently in the middle of its funding campaign.

So why, other than being a little cash-strapped, would a large corporation like Sony want to turn to this crowdfunding model? According to Hirai, “Sony’s innovation is ingrained in the company’s founding spirit of `doing what has never been done before.’ Nothing embodies this spirit more than passionate entrepreneurs who give shape to their ground-breaking ideas and introduce them to the world, without fear of failure.”

Related: Why Sony might abandon mobile

Hirai claims that the First Flight set-up will “accelerate and optimise this process,” and that it sees Sony returning to its “entrepreneurial roots.”

If you’re a Sony fan and would like to throw your money at new Sony concepts in this way, there’s a snag – First Flight is Japan-only at present. Hopefully it will open out the initiative to the rest of the world before too long.

Find out about Sony’s current UK flagship phone, the Sony Xperia Z3, in our video review below.

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