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Scientific Research: Opening the Door to the Future
Chapter 3 New Trends in the Promotion of Science
Section 2: New Approaches to University-Industry Cooperation and Collaboration
2. Current Situation and Achievements

(1) MESSC Efforts to Improve Various Systems

The ensuing discussion focuses primarily on arrangements for research cooperation between national universities and industry. MESSC has, however, also adopted a variety of measures for private universities, including subsidies for the creation of joint research promotion centers under the Private University Scientific Frontier Promotion Program and tax concessions for donations to school corporations that establish private universities. It is hoped that these measures will promote research cooperation between universities and industry in ways that reflect the different characteristics of national, local public, and private, universities.

Research cooperation between national universities and industry is being actively encouraged through the introduction of public funding under the systems described below. To further enrich and enhance scientific research, research resources need to be diversified. Private sector and other outside funding now ranks alongside government grants-in-aid for scientific research as a valuable source of support for national universities, which are the main centers for scientific research ( Table 3-3 ).

Table 3-2: Cabinet Decisions, etc., Concerning University-Industry Cooperation and Collaboration

(a) Joint research with the private sector

: This type of research focuses on themes of common interest to researchers in national universities and private enterprises. It is carried out in a wide range of fields, bringing together the research capabilities of the national universities and the technological strength of the private sector. Joint research with the private sector is expected to produce outstanding results. The number of projects has increased steadily over the years and is expected to grow even more in the future, partially due to the systemic improvements discussed below ( Figure 3-3 ).

(b) Commissioned research

: In the course of research and development activities, private companies and government agencies and institutions sometimes commission basic research to national universities. This system enhances the effectiveness of research and development by utilizing the basic research resources that have accrued in national universities. National university researchers who accept commissions undertake research at the expense of the companies or agencies commissioning it and cooperate in those organizations' research and development efforts by providing reports on the results of their work. The number of research commissions accepted has quadrupled in the decade since FY1985 ( Figure 3-4 ).

Table 3-3: Research Cooperation between National Universities and Industry (Growth over the Past 10 Years)

Figure 3-3: Joint Research with the Private Sector

Joint research with private enterprise(semiconductor electronic elements).

In FY 1995 the government introduced a new basic research promotion system involving the use of subscriptions paid to special corporations. National universities accepted 152 commissioned research projects worth approximately \7 billion under this system.

(c) Commissioned researchers

: This system enables engineers and researchers employed in the private sector to receive graduate-level guidance in the latest research at national universities and inter-university research institutes. Participating researchers and engineers improve their talents and skills, gaining knowledge that they subsequently utilize in research at their home organizations.

(d) Grants and endowments

: National universities accept donations to encourage scientific research from private firms, individuals, and other sources under the scholarship endowment accounting system. These donations make up the bulk of funding that national universities receive from the private sector. The national universities are able to use these funds flexibly and effectively to provide scholarships for students and to finance research, international exchange, and other activities. Donations to national universities are treated as donations to the government, making them eligible for tax benefits.

(e) Endowed chairs and funded research departments

: Scholarship donations to national universities and inter-university research institutes can be used to establish endowed chairs or funded research departments in accordance with the wishes of donors. Endowed chairs have been created in a wide range of fields, including economics, engineering, science, and medicine. Their presence has helped to enrich and enliven university education and research ( Table 3-4 ).

(f) Establishment of joint research centers

: MESSC has set up centers for cooperative research at 49 national universities in 42 prefectures. As venues for joint research, commissioned research, and other activities involving the private sector, these centers act as interfaces between industry and the academic world. They also help to stimulate cooperation and collaboration with local industries by providing engineering staff in private companies with advanced technical training, technical advice, and other assistance relating to research and development ( Table 3-5 ).

Figure 3-4: Acceptance of Commissioned Research

Table 3-4: Establishment of Endowed Chairs and Funded Research Departments (as of June 1. 1997)

In addition, national universities are progressively establishing research cooperation departments and sections to serve as interfaces for cooperation and collaboration with the wider community.

Table 3-5: Establishment of Centers for Cooperative Research

(2) Research Cooperation between Universities and Industry through External Organizations

(a) University-industry cooperation programs of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science

: The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science has established the Advisory Committee to University-Industry Research Committees, the Committee for Research Promotion in Specialized Areas, and University-Industry Cooperative Research Committees made up of leading researchers from academia and industry. These groups provide forums for developing new fields for research cooperation between universities and industry. These committees discuss research and share information on selected fields, goals, and important issues relating to technology development. Some of the topics examined by the Advisory Committee to University-Industry Research Committees and other groups are already being researched under the Research for the Future Program.

The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science also provides assistance for international symposiums. This aspect of the Society's activities is handled mainly by the University-Industry Cooperative Research Committees.

(b) Activities of research grant foundations

: Many incorporated nonprofit organizations have been established for the primary purpose of providing grants for scientific research. Such organizations, which are supported by donations from industry and other sectors of society, provide researchers with research grants and awards. They make an important contribution to promoting science. As of May 1997, 132 foundations and 32 trust funds were providing subsidies for scientific research.

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