Broad and open innovation is key to optimizing new technology such as AI and IoT. However, in Japan, funding for joint research between companies and universities is much lower than in Europe and the United States.
Low-budget projects 40% of total
Most industry-academia research overseas happens on a large scale, with budgets of 10 million yen (approx. $86,000 USD) or more per project. In Japan, joint research with a budget of over 10 million yen, on par with Europe and the United States, accounts for just 4% of total joint research, while research with a budget of one million yen (approx. $8,600) or less accounts for 40%.
Why such small scale?
The smaller scale of industry-academia research in Japan may be due to a traditional academic and corporate culture the relies on personal networking to spur joint research agreements. Currently, these universities and companies don’t often collaborate for inter-organizational research strategies and management decisions.
Collaboration is key
To encourage greater collaboration, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) formulated guidelines aimed to bolster industry-academia research projects. The guidelines advise universities how to compile specific case studies and make simplified research proposals to companies, including research plans and concrete goals. METI expects this new approach to help bolster large-scale joint research between universities and companies in Japan.
Tripling current investment value
Moreover, the guidelines stipulate that universities may include personnel costs in research budgets, which will help companies compare total costs with results and facilitate better investment decisions.
With this new direction, Japan aims to triple the current investment value for domestic joint research by FY2025, surpassing the level of average investment by OECD member states.