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back to index backGLOBALtalk October,  2016


Industry-Academia Collaboration in Japan – Opportunities for Foreign Companies

Technology transfer from science to industry has not been particularly well developed in Japan traditionally. Yet the country’s level of science is excellent and offers a good source for industry and even foreign companies.

Before turning to the latest developments in the Japanese Science and Technology system in my next article, let me today make a detour to the situation of industry-academia collaboration in Japan.

Japan Caught Up Quickly

Due not least to historic reasons, the Japan’s science sector developed late but then quickly reached world-class levels.

In one of my previous articles I have made the case that education was considered important and that people were well-educated even before the Edo period (1603-1868). The samurai afforded excellent teachers, but also the commons received education in temple schools called Terakoya. There, they had to learn at least to read, write and calculate.

The importance of education and the high level of educated people provided the basis for the quick and successful development of Japan into an industrialized country. From 1868 onward, the Meiji government pushed to catch up with Western nations. As part of this, it set up a Western-style education system with schools and universities.

Industrial production demanded scientific knowledge, especially natural sciences like physics, chemistry and mathematics. Accordingly, institutes and universities in those days focused on mastering the topics that were important for industrialization and to provide a workforce matching these needs.

Japan achieved this in an astonishingly short time and caught up to to the world’s best.

Knowledge Creating Sectors – Industry, Universities, Research Institutes

Several characteristics of these early times can still be found today and some even define the situation today. Let us have a closer look at how the three knowledge-creating sectors – universities, public research institutes, and private companies – do in Japan.

Extensive In-house Research in Big Industrial Groups

The Japanese economy is characterized by big industrial groups, nowadays called keiretsu. Many are going back to the more tightly-knit family-owned zaibatsu that dominated the Meiji and pre-war periods and which in turn traced their roots back to the Edo period.

To read entire article, please click here.

Source: Japan Industry News - GAI






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