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From Academia to Innovation: East Asia’s Rise in U-I Collaboration

Oct. 17, 2023—Many multinational companies are looking to expand their academic partnerships around the world. Japan and the East Asia region as a whole boast a host of research and innovation capabilities, supported by university-industry partnerships and continued investment from government and nonprofit entities. As we see universities in the region rising through the international rankings and reflect on UIDP’s recent Tokyo Forum, the time to forge new research collaborations in East Asia has never been more opportune.

New rankings

The Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings for 2024 include over 1,900 universities from across the globe, including 108 countries and regions. In partnership with Elsevier, THE analyzes universities’ performance across five major areas: teaching, research environment, research quality, industry, and international outlook. This year, the majority of universities joining the rankings for the first time ever are located in Asia.

Links between industry and universities are strong in the region, which has contributed to some of the institutions’ rise in the rankings in recent years. UIDP member University of Tokyo climbed 10 places to number 29, the highest position for a Japanese institution since 2015. The university rankings include industry research income and patent output; nine out of 28 institutions with a perfect industry score are in East Asia, including the University of Tokyo.

Tokyo Forum highlights

Last week at the UIDP Tokyo Forum, hosted by the University of Tokyo, attendees explored collaboration between academic and corporate sectors and focused specifically on Japanese and East Asia research capabilities. The event gathered academic and corporate partnership leaders from across the globe to discuss current research partnership challenges and solutions, including international economic security issues and their impact on collaboration. The forum also examined innovative approaches to foster the growing bioeconomy in the region.

Research can be an avenue for companies to increase their footprints in new markets. Some countries require R&D activity within their boundaries as a regulatory or legal prerequisite for access to the local market (as noted in the National Academy’s Here or There report), along with other motivators for international R&D activities, like the potential for growth in foreign countries, access to quality R&D personnel, and supporting sales in the local market.

The University of Tokyo held a special session on the Well-Being Economy Accelerator Tokyo (WE AT), which explored how innovation hubs can be designed and nurtured to optimize human well-being. WE AT is a collaborative venture between the Tokyo metropolitan government, the University of Tokyo, and several other university and industry partners, positioning Tokyo as the center of an ecosystem that generates collective impact and creates well-being beyond economic growth by fostering university-industry collaborations and supporting startups. WE AT plans include hosting awards for successful startups that promote well-being through mission-, citizen-, and technology-driven perspectives, as well as connecting with other ecosystems around the world.

Why it matters

With research and innovation capabilities increasing around the world, global collaborations have more potential than ever to create lasting societal impact Recent gains in the rankings of universities in Japan and East Asia position them as key players in international university-industry relationships. Participating in global partnerships creates a critical mass of gifted researchers who can work together to address the most pressing global challenges. Opportunities like the UIDP Tokyo Forum, the recent UIDP Europe event, and the UIDP London Forum this week can lay the groundwork to connect innovation leaders around the world for maximum impact.

We want to hear from you. Has your organization partnered with universities or companies in the East Asia region? Let us know on our LinkedIn profile.

The 3-Minute Read is a UIDP member information piece and does not represent the opinions of our members or representatives. We welcome your comments on our LinkedIn profile.