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Home > Tech Reiews > Japan Technology Review Last Updated: 15:24 03/09/2007
Japan Technology Review #29: January 8, 2002

Summary of The Third Symposium on Creation of Science and Technology Knowledge Platform - Part 1 -

By Hajime Yamada (GLOCOM)

On December 19th, 2001, a symposium entitled "Group-Forming Beyond Organizational Boundaries and Creation of Industry" was held at Paveria Hall in Fukuoka City. Despite the symposium coinciding with the year-end busy season, many interesting presentations were performed in the symposium that gathered an audience of about 100, as follows:

Tomokazu Tokuda, Managing Director of the Engineering Academy of Japan (EAJ), opened the symposium as main moderator.

The first speaker was Tisato Kajiyama, President of Kyushu University, who represented EAJ, the contractor of the Creation of Science and Technology Knowledge Platform project. Mr. Kajiyama made the following speech:
An era of organizational transition has arrived, when organizations should change themselves by forming various groups beyond their barriers. Universities are required to have cooperative relations among different study fields. One concrete example is an expectation of further development of study by participation of geologists and other natural scientists in excavation projects of archaeologists. It is necessary to establish such cooperative relationships in universities. Relationships between universities and industry also need cooperation to expand from the present situation in which only a limited number of professors have relations with some companies. It is necessary for universities and industry to interchange at much broader levels. Movements of start-ups originated in universities will become possible only when these inter-organizational groups are actively formed.

Shumpei Kumon, Executive Director of the Center for Global Communications (GLOCOM) made a keynote speech:
The idea of Group-Forming Media proposed by David Reed of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is attracting considerable attention. There are people who are willing to spend a large sum of money for forming a group and communicating with each other via the Internet. . Accordingly, relationships between intellectuals and mass media are changing. Intellectuals have begun to express their opinions more freely in various scenes including via the Internet. An era is coming when persuasiveness has more power than military force or source of money. We now call those people who form groups with persuasiveness as the source of power either Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) when they are not governmental with military force, or Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs)when they do not aim at profit-making. We should call these groups by more accurate and appropriate names.

Yasuhide Yamauchi, Professor of GLOCOM, presided over a panel discussion. First, Norihiko Ishiguro of the Ministry of Economy, Technology and Industry (METI) expressed his opinions as follows:
He thinks that the cause of Japan's depression in the 1990s was a decrease of demand. A company can cut its labor force, but a country cannot cut its population when it meets a decrease of demand. The government has been investing in construction projects in order to activate demand. However, by that kind of policy demand would decrease again every time projects run out of funds. Rather, Japan needs to create a new industry now. Therefore, the Creation of Science and Technology Knowledge Platform is important.

Hajime Yamada, Professor of GLOCOM, reported on the progress of the Creation of Science and Technology Knowledge Platform. In the project, places for free discussion by researchers, i.e. platforms, are being prepared. More than 40 platforms have already been formed and active discussions have begun. It is expected that a new industry will sprout from these discussions. For its success, cooperation from associated groups in Japan, such as academic societies, industrial associations, public laboratories, and universities is required. So far, more than 100 organizations have expressed their intention to cooperate.

Kazuo Ushijima, Director of Institute of Systems & Information Technology/KYUSHU, commented as follows:
After moving from a university to this Institute last April, he found a definite difference in the ways in which the two organizations work. At the university, each study room had its own activities. However, at this Institute the whole organization is totally managed by the Study Program Division and the Project Promotion Division. Management efficiently creates new businesses one after another. Technology transfer through industry-academia cooperation will essentially need such an organization and able staff members to whom management tasks can be entrusted.

Tsuyoshi Ide, President of Trans Genic Inc., commented as follows:
Trans Genic is a start-up company whose business is to analyze genes and to sell the information. In many universities in Japan, unused information concerning various kinds of proteins is stored. Trans Genic digs that up and transforms it into valuable information. This kind of business is possible to further only when technology of universities and sales abilities of such companies as Trans Genic are put together.

Yamada agreed that forming a group of researchers would not immediately bear a new industry. Yamada replied to the comments of Ushijima and Ide that Creation of Science and Technology Knowledge Platform were trying to establish systems that involve lawyers, patent lawyers, accountants, and consulting engineers, among others, who would promote supporting operations necessary for transferring technology into products.

There was a question from the floor concerning the relationship between platform activities and intellectual property rights. Ishiguro answered as follows:
At the present stage, this project is promoted in a way something similar to the activities of academic societies that do not interfere with intellectual property rights, and companies are asked to participate under such conditions. The system is designed, however, with agreement among participants to change into a closed platform if intellectual property rights are concerned along with the progress of the platform.

It was also pointed out from the floor that there may be too few business schools to promptly create new industry. Panelists answered that some universities in Japan have already started towards practical business education by creating business schools for reeducation of working members of society as well as establishing new courses such as for LSI designing education and others.

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