The 151st year of diplomatic relations between Sweden and Japan has come to an end, and we now enter the exiting year of 2020, with new research and innovation policy developments, as well as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, and their ambition to showcase sustainability, new technology and innovation.
In the beginning of 2019, Japan and the EU signed a strategic partnership and a generous free-trade agreement, and based on the well-established Swedish-Japanese relations, and mutual focus towards research and innovation for addressing societal challenges, initiatives to further strengthen the R&I relations between the two countries were made.
Selected activities OSI Tokyo has been involved in 2019 include:
- Minister visit. The Minister for Higher Education and Research, as well as Minister for Space, Ms. Matilda Ernkrans visited Japan in October, for active participation in the international Science and Technology in Society (STS) Forum, a Ministerial Roundtable, and the EU-Japan Research Policy Forum 2019. She also visited top-ranked universities, meet with the Swedish Chamber of Commerce’ companies, the Governor of Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Space Agency JAXA, the Council for Science, Technology and Innovation at the Cabinet Office, as well as had bilateral meeting with the Japanese minister colleague Hagiuda, who later visited Minister Ernkrans in Stockholm. In addition to research and innovation, sustainable development, climate and gender were focus areas for the Minister Ernkrans.
- Strategic University collaborations. Delegations from the strategic university collaboration network Mirai, consisting of seven Swedish and eight Japanese prominent universities, visited Tokyo late spring, for thematic workshops on extending and deepening the collaboration, and the Japanese universities later visited Sweden for 2019 Mirai seminars. During 2020, Mirai will move into a new phase.
- Joint Research and Innovation Programmes. The Vinnova-JST program addressing the Ageing population entered its second phase 2019, focussing on bringing forward and implementing innovations. Additionally, discussions between Japanese and Swedish funding agencies for extending collaboration have proceeded, including collaboration in the Nordic context.
- Research Infrastructure. Lund University and Tohoku University signes an agreement on synchrotron collaboration between Max IV in Lund and the new synchrotron that is under construction in Sendai.
- Mobility. The foundation STINT came to agreements with JST and JSPS concerning programmes researchers’ mobility. Additionally, to promote mobility, OSI compiled information on international internship positions and research grants opportunities for PhD-students and researchers at Japanese institutions.
- Nobel Prize. A Nobel Prize Dialogue was held in Tokyo in March for the third consecutive year, and in November the new Japanese Laureate Prof. Yoshino was invited to a celebration at the Ambassador’s residence, together with nine former laureates and high-level guests joining.
- RISE. To initiate international operations with Japan, the Research Institutes of Sweden RISE visited Tokyo twice 2019, with the aim to establish agreements and collaborations with Japanese actors.
- IVA visit. A delegation for the Royal Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA IFG) from Swedish companies and public organisations visited Japan during spring, to study industry-relevant research and innovation, for knowledge, inspiration and relations. The visit involved the Japanese policy level, universities and companies. A reception with invited Japanese guests was held at the Ambassador’s residence.
- R&I policy. OSI has responded to a number of Governmental assignments concerning research and innovation policy related issues, including potentials for international collaborations within the Swedish Innovation Partnership Programmes, and input for the Government’s forthcoming Research and Innovation Bill 2020.
We look forward to continue deepening the research and innovation relation between Sweden and Japan during 2020, which is the year of the Rat, the first of the zodiac animals. The Rat is a sign of wealth and surplus, and Rats are seen as clever, quick thinkers and successful. Appropriate in research and innovation!