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  5. METI Releases Report by Study Group on Ideal Approaches to University-Oriented Venture Businesses

METI Releases Report by Study Group on Ideal Approaches to University-Oriented Venture Businesses

To create a circular flow of human resources, funds and knowledge surrounding such businesses

June 19, 2018

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) established a Study Group on Ideal Approaches to University-Oriented Venture Businesses in February 2018. Since then, the study group held five meetings and compiled the discussions summary into a report on an ecosystem to improve university-oriented venture businesses in Japan in terms of quality and quantity.

1. Background

University-oriented venture businesses are becoming more and more important for Japan as they are a source of rich knowledge and human resources. Their strengths have the ability to trigger new innovations.

In light of this situation, in 2001, METI formulated a Plan for the Establishment of 1,000 University-Oriented Venture Businesses and achieved the numerical goal in 2004. Still, Japan is far behind in the number and growth level of such venture businesses from those in the United States and other major countries.

Against this backdrop, METI established a Study Group on Ideal Approaches to University-Oriented Venture Businesses in February 2018. Since then, the study group held five meetings and compiled the discussions summary into a report.

2. Key points of the report

The report states challenges in [i] human resources, [ii] funds and [iii] intellectual property and knowledge, aiming at the establishment and growth of university-oriented venture businesses, and also offers recommendations to solve these challenges. In addition, the report also focuses on the perspective of cultivating an ecosystem for such establishment and growth across Japan, and from this perspective, offers ideal approaches to developing ecosystems in regional areas and on roles that universities and large companies are expected to play in related efforts.

In particular, the report stresses that university-oriented venture businesses should acquire patent rights of seeds or core technologies, bearing in mind an exit strategy for their business, while it offers some opinions pointing out that a bottleneck in commercialization by such venture businesses lies in the insufficient scope of patent rights that such businesses have obtained. To overcome this, the report explains the need for Japan to enhance its commitment to the GAP Fund concept to support universities in funding the series of steps before the stipulation of a proof of concept (PoC) covering their enhancement of intellectual property strategies and their smooth acquisition of patent rights.

The report also mentions that universities should play a role to encourage newly-established university-oriented venture businesses with scarce funds to acquire stock options as compensation for successful licensing and fees for using facilities, and, through this approach, they should support the growth of these venture businesses and receive a circular flow of benefits from successful achievements by such businesses. The report points out that through this flow, universities should cultivate an ecosystem.

Furthermore, the report shows the expectations of the study group that effective collaboration of large companies with university-oriented venture businesses to achieve open innovations will encourage such businesses to dramatically grow and lead to the development of an ecosystem of innovations in Japan.

Appendix

Division in Charge

Industry-University Collaboration Office, Industrial Science and Technology Policy and Environment Bureau