Japan rose to become one of the world’s largest economies with esteem of their science and technology, which is among the best in the world. With the recent economic crisis, Japan is now set to achieve the next new heights through research and innovation in a sustainable way while fostering human resources and making a unified effort to improve the environment for research. In parallel, plans to promote commercial applications to develop new technologies are also put in place. Closer collaboration between industry and academia through partnership are also arranged.
Japan plans to increase the public/private sectors investment in research and innovation to >4% of GDP by 2020. In addition to the vigorous and effective S&T policy to promote innovation and advanced research and development, Japan will also enhance the “science and technology diplomacy”. This includes a promotion of the international joint research activities and scientific and technological cooperation with developing countries. A few months after assuming NSTDA presidency, Dr. Thaweesak Koanantakool made courtesy visit to NSTDA’s strategic partners: NEDO, METI, MEXT, JST, JSPS, JICA, NIMS, AIST, CSTP, to affirm our on-going strong relationship and to identify effective approach for mutual bilateral collaborations for greater impact.
The growth areas driven by Japan’s strengths include environment, energy and health. “Green innovation” (innovation in the environmental and energy sectors) is coy as one mission in Japan’s New Growth Strategy. It is to strive for the world’s most advancement in the respective fields. These growth areas also correspond to our national agenda and NSTDA’s for growth and sustainability.
Through long standing and close research collaboration between NSTDA and our Japanese S&T partners, many formal and informal connections (individually and institutionally) have been formed, forstered and strengthened. NSTDA has signed 36 MOUs with research institutes and universities in Japan at the bilateral and multilateral level including RIKEN, National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS), National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST). NSTDA and National Centers (BIOTEC, NECTEC, MTEC and NANOTEC) have formed collaborative partnership with universities such as the Graduate School of Global Information and Telecommunications Studies of Waseda University, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo Polytechnic University, Nagaoka University of Technology, Tottori University; the Joining and Welding Research Institute of Osaka University, Chiba University, Meijo University, Hiroshima University, and Yamagata University.
The areas research collaborations mostly cover those in biotechnology, materials science and technology, information and communication technology, and nanotechnology. The joint activities enfold collaborative research & development, design, engineering projects, as well as mobility of scientists, specialists, and students. Other joint undertakings involve organizing and participating in joint conferences, symposia, workshops, exhibitions, and exchange of S&T information.
Energy crisis is one emerging issue of global concerns. NSTDA has entered into an agreement with Japanese counterpart on energy research to look for upgrading and standardization of the bio-mass based fuels. Examples of recent and current collaborative projects are:
1. Standardization and upgrading of BDF (biodiesel fuels) quality (NEDO/AIST)
2. Effects of oxidation additives in biodiesel (Toyota)
3. Investigation of technological capability for scaling up design and construction of biodiesel plant in Thailand – Phase I and II (NEDO/AIST)
4. Biofuel research and innovation on Asia biomass energy program (GEF)
5. Innovation on production and automotive utilization of biofuels from non-food biomass (JICA/JST/AIST/Waseda University/TISTR/KMUTNB)*
6. Benchmarking of biodiesel fuel standardization in East Asia
7. Sustainable Automotive Society in East Asia
8. Currently, a project on smart grid and power electronics are being explored for collaboration opportunity with AIST
*As high quality biodiesel is one possible alternative of fossil fuel, the project on “Innovation on production and automotive utilization of biofuels from non-food biomass” launched the Pilot Plant for High Quality Biodiesel Fuel (BDF) Production in the premise of TISTR on May 19, 2011. This biodiesel pilot plant serves as a small scale production facility and a training site for the high quality biodiesel production.
Jointly supported by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the project involves 5 partners – 3 from Thailand and 2 from Japan. They are the National Sciences and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (TISTR), King Mongkut's University of Technology North Bangkok (KMUTNB), the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and Waseda University. This project will develop the scientific and technological bases for the production and the evaluation of biofuels from Jatropha oil for automotive transportation. It also provide basis for life cycle assessment (LCA) of biofuel production.
Selected examples of mobility of scientists and science students
- Under the Glaze and Raw Material Database project, Dr. Toyohiko SUGIYAMA, AIST – Nagoya, visited MTEC and Thai factories for his Glaze Database development.
- Dr. Anucha Wannagon, MTEC scientist, had an opportunity to spend some time during September 2008 – March 2009 as visiting scientist in Dr. Tomoko AKAI's Lab, Advanced Glass Group, AIST – Osaka, to perform research on "Leaching behavior of metal-containing glass in electric appliances".
- In collaboration with the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) for research on Bioenergy, Life Cycle Assessment, Biopolymer, Ceramics, and Information Technology, a few NSTDA researchers received intensive training at AIST.
- University of Electro Communications entered into agreement with NECTEC for an exchange of researchers and students from UEC to NSTDA/NECTEC in 2010.
Selected collaboration between NSTDA and partner institutes from Japan
- NSTDA-JST Joint Research Funding Program. An MOU between NSTDA and JST was signed in 2010 to promote a joint research program between the Thai and Japanese researchers. NSTDA through the Cluster Program Management Office (CPMO) will allocate research fund to Thai scientists while JST for Japanese scientists on research topics of mutual interest. The areas for funding are Tuberculosis, Malaria, and Bio-resources. The Joint proposals adopted by JST and NSTDA are (1) Development of a novel serological assay to detect LTBI and a drug to eradicate LTBI or prevent development of tuberculosis (Makoto Matsumoto, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. and Saradee Warit, BIOTEC) and (2) Countermeasure against Spread of Drug Resistance Malaria Parasite in Thai Border Area (Shiroh Iwanaga Mie University and Chairat Uthapibull, BIOTEC)
- Equipment support from JICA. The WiMax IT Valley Project in Mae Hong Son Province of Thailand. This is a collaborative effort involving the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (NECTEC) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The IT Valley Project has its origins in commemorations of His Majesty the King's 80th birthday. It is a human-resources development scheme involving the use of information technology to vitalise rural communities. The WiMax equipment in this project is supplied by JICA.
- Research funding from NEDO. NEDO has long been generous in its research funding to Thai scientists. Over the years, NSTDA S&T personnel has been granted support in various areas of research, e.g. food safety and micro-nano bubbles, and a feasibility study on the Thai–Japanese research institutes collaborative mechanism. In addition, Fujitsu and NSTDA along with IEAT (MOI) and PCD (MNRE) are jointly developing a proposal to seek funding support form NEDO on the VOCs monitoring and tracking system for environmental protection project.
- AIST/TISTR/NSTDA Annual Conference. Every year, NSTDA and TISTR and AIST organized a forum where researchers of each institute met to exchange their knowledge and progress on research collaboration as well as to propose new joint research project. The research topics for this annual conference are alternative energy, environment, automotive & transport system, materials, standards & metrology, software, microchip & electronics, developing rural communities and the management of R&D projects. The most recent one in 2010 was the 7th annual conference organized by NSTDA at Thailand Science Park during November 15-16, 2010.
- Public–Private Partnership. To support the national agenda in the promotion of public-private partnership, NSTDA has worked closely with the private sector from Japan, including Shimadzu (Asia Pacific), Shiseido, Toyota Motor (Asia), Nippon Steel and Sumikin Stainless Steel Corporation, and Hosokawa Power Technology Research Institute. To extend this initiative, NSTDA hosted a visit of 50 members from the Japan Chamber of Commerce (JCC) on February 9, 2011, at Thailand Science Park.
- Human Resources. One of NSTDA’s mandated missions is to develop well trained S&T human resources. This has long been well supported by the Government of Japan. TAIST (Thailand Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) was founded under a collaboration of NSTDA and academic partners (Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech), King Monkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL) and Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology (SIIT). It serves to accelerate the development of specific areas of S&T personnel in Thailand. This close collaboration has led Tokyo Tech to open its office in the Thailand Science Park, in close proximity of NSTDA and all National Centers, to effectively coordinate the programs.
- Advisory Role. NSTDA has had the privilege of having the presence of five S&T leaders from Japan on the NSTDA’s International Advisory Committee (IAC). Prof. Hiroyuki Yoshikawa, former President of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Prof. Teruo Kishi (former President of the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS), and Prof. Ken-Ichi Arai, Professor Emeritus, University of Tokyo) were in NSTDA’s IAC 2007 – 2009, while Dr. Tamotsu Nomakuchi, AIST President, and Dr. Sukekatsu Ushioda, NIMS, are in IAC 2010 – 2012. In addition, NSTDA’s President, Dr. Thaweesak Koanantakool, has been invited to be on the Advisory Board of AIST, NII and NIMS.