Expectations for STKP
By Hajime Yamada (GLOCOM)
Many people entertain great expectations for STKP's potential. In this article I explain such expectations from public and private viewpoints.
Sec.1 Public Perspective
In 1995, Japan's Science and Technology Basic Law came into effect. It aims to promote government investment in Science and Technology (S&T) and form a comprehensive coordinating body for government investment. Following reorganization of government agencies, the Council for Science and Technology Policy was established in Cabinet Office in January 2001.
The Council's first task was to formulate the Second S&T Basic Plan. The Plan is the follow-on to the First five-year Basic Plan, which was completed in 2000.
The objective of the Second Plan is to promote S&T under four principles. The first principle is "Prioritized allocation of resources aiming effective R&D investment." Priority fields including Life Science and Information and Communications Technology will receive intensive investment. At the same time, focus on basic research is emphasized. The second principle is "Pursuit of mechanism for excellent achievement and expansion of investment on infrastructure." The third principle is "Inevitable restitution of R&D achievement to the public." Competitive research funds whose allocation is made through open application and screening will be doubled, and the mobility of human resources is promoted. The final principle is "Internationalization of Japanfs S&T activities." (See "A Summary of the Science and Technology Basic Plan" http://www8.cao.go.jp/cstp/english/summary.html)
Relating to the third principle we find a heading "Strengthening of competitiveness in industrial technology and system reform of industry-academia-government cooperation," and the government"s plan emphasizes the following three actions:
- Cultivating human resources to promote industry-academia-government cooperation and maintaining a database of research activities and researchers;
- Promoting industrialization utilizing achievement of governmental institutes through technology transfer with exclusive and transferable patent system; and
- Improving conditions for S&T promotion in local areas forming "intellectual clusters."
The Science and Technology Knowledge Platform (STKP) directly supports these actions. In the STKP, a significant volume of knowledge concerning S&T will be built up through cooperation among participants from industry, academia, and government. By sharing and exchanging information on research activities and researchers, STKP will further strengthen industry-academia-government cooperation. Technology transfer will occur in the STKP process. As discussed so far, STKP can be defined as a tool to promote the Basic Plan.
The Government expects the STKP to enable opinions from the private sector to be accurately incorporated in the public policy making process. In particular the opinions of emerging industries, considered to be a source of vitality in Japanese industrial sector, must be reflected. For many years the Japanese private sector has participated in policy making through a system of advisory councils called "Shingikai." However, membership of Shingikai has essentially limited to those from large corporations and major universities. Since the 1990s it has been recognized that this system excluded opinions from vital elements of society. The STKP encourages participation from wide and various fields, from established and emerging industries. Accordingly, the Japanese government has certain expectations to make use of STKP as a mechanism of public hearing.
Sec. 2 Private Sector Expectations
The STKP activity seeks broad participation from industry and offers several benefits to large enterprises. For example, the open platform format may bring some dormant or hidden technologies to customer's attention, and may also act as a showcase for technologies that have previously not been well explained or promoted.
Also, the STKP will allow small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to consult widely about technologies, human resources and business partners and to expand business opportunities through exhibiting their technologies and skills. Generally speaking, there exists an impression that technology flows from large enterprises to SMEs unilaterally. However, SMEs have a strong desire to demonstrate their technologies to the public.
STKP will offer individual researchers and engineers the opportunity to show their skills outside of their organizations. If such a mechanism for external recognition goes far enough, it may change the custom of "life-long" employment in Japan. However, an enterprise may be on its guard against STKP, as it would not want to risk the headhunting of its best talents. That is why STKP does not disclose personal information in detail.
The next issue will go into details over the Science and Technology Basic Plan.