Masahiro Shima, founder and chairman of the board

Masahiro Shima is the founder and chairman of the board of directors of Shima Seiki Manufacturing Limited, known for its innovations in flat knitting machines. Shima, nicknamed the "Edison of Wakayama," his hometown in Japan, holds numerous patents.

He founded the Shima Seiki in 1962, based on development of the world's first fully automated glove knitting machine. The company's advances in seamless knitting led to development of the Wholegarment computerized knitting technology the company is known for around the world. The technology allows garment makers to create seamless clothing, from pleated skirts to running shoes, in minutes rather the hours or days once needed to manufacture them, reducing production time. Companies from casual wear manufacturer Uniqlo to designers such as Prada and Giorgio Armani use Wholegarment technology for their fashion lines. The Wholegarment method conserves resources and energy and reduces labor costs.

Shima Seiki has become a leader in computerized glove and flat knitting systems and in computerized graphic design, serving 90 countries worldwide. Now chairman of the board, Shima served as president of the company for 55 years before his son succeeded him in that role in June.

Shima has served as director of the Japan Institute of Invention and Innovation, vice chairman of the Japan Textile Machinery Association, and as chairman of the Wakayama Machinery and Metal Industrial Cooperative, Wakayama Institute of Invention and Innovation, and Wakayama Industry Promotion Foundation.

He has received numerous awards for textile engineering, green development and service. Recent honors include the Italian government's Commander of the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity in 2010 and induction into the American Textile Hall of Fame in 2012. He received the grand prize in the Kigyoka Prize competition in 2015 and a Japanese Prime Minister's Award for his contribution to greening efforts in 2016.