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Today, the approach to partnerships between academia and industry at major research universities is being called into question amid Japan’s continuing economic malaise. In other words, the point of view of this cooperation is being shifted from university-led social contributions to generating new industries as a contributing member of Japan’s industrial machine. Of course, unlike corporations, universities pursue research and development based on the belief that their existential value is to focus on the development of innovative and diverse next-generation research. At the same time, universities achieve commercialization that ensures research outcomes more quickly and effectively benefit society through government-industry-academia collaboration. Previously, there have been many hurdles to the commercialization process envisioned by corporations, such as universities’ patents and their non-exclusive licensing which does not favor one company over another. Going forward, we will fundamentally re-examine our approach to government-industry-academia collaboration to ensure that our research seeds can be commercialized quickly and effectively from the standpoint of corporations. In this manner, Hokkaido University aims to a pioneer in business creation achieved through government-industry-academia collaboration.

Hokkaido University has 29 graduate schools and a number of research laboratories and joint use research facilities, which are staffed by some 2,100 researchers and 6,300 graduate students. Here, research activities take place around the clock as nearly 5,000 industry-university joint researches are carried out every year. Furthermore, in the Northern Campus Area of Hokkaido University there are the Creative Research Institution (CRIS) as a hub for industry-academia collaboration as well as integrated science research, and other facilities such as joint research facilities of the Northern Advancement Center for Science & Technology (NOASTEC), business incubation center of the Organization for Small & Medium Enterprise and Regional Innovation, and the Hokkaido Research Organization. Our partnerships with these important organizations make it possible to provide R&D space tailored to each individual stage of business creation. Moreover, some of our cutting edge research equipments of CRIS are open to researchers, as the Open Facility program (please visit our website http://openfacility.cris.hokudai.ac.jp/en/). These research spaces and equipment are available not only to achieve research outcomes but also to facilitate the creation of professional networks. This represents the Hokkaido University research and business park concept, which calls for greater collaboration between the national government, municipalities, the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technologies (AIST), the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), and the local business community.

Our concept was adopted by Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)’s Science and Technology Hub Development Project for Regional Government-Industry-Academia Collaboration, which seeks to build hubs for next-generation government-industry-academia collaboration. As a result, an additional 9,000m2 of facilities for promoting industry-academia partnerships will be constructed at our Northern Campus Area in fiscal 2013. Hokkaido University takes the lead in promoting new business creation projects at the local as well as national level. Also, we strengthen coordinated partnerships with a variety of other institutions both in Japan and abroad to tap functions and intellectual properties from various organizations to help push forward with new industry creation activities.

I thank for your understanding and continued support.

April 2013
Kazushige Kawabata
Executive Director
Institute for the Promotion of Business-Regional Collaboration
Hokkaido University Research Development Section, Hokkaido University Food Science Platform, Hokkaido University