13 Irish researchers were in Tokyo last week in a major drive to increase research collaboration with Japanese companies, research institutions and universities.

The four-day visit, organised by ISCA Japan (Science Foundation Ireland’s new Ireland-Japan science collaboration programme), in close cooperation with IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and the Embassy of Ireland in Japan focused on information and communications technology research with a particular emphasis on big data analytics and cloud computing.

The visit commenced on September 30th and included meetings with leading Japanese and multinational corporations, research institutions and universities to present Irish ICT research and identify opportunities for collaboration. It culminated in a one-day conference on Friday, October 3rd at the Delegation of the European Union in Japan, entitled “EU-Japan R&D Cooperation, Horizon 2020 and the Irish ICT Research Opportunity.” With over 100 attendees, the conference was addressed by representatives of the European Union, the Japanese and Irish Governments, Fujitsu Laboratories, and the Japanese National Institute of Information and Communication Technology.

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Big Data, Cloud Computing and the Internet of Things will shape the development of the ICT sector worldwide for the next decade and beyond. The European Union and the Japanese and Irish governments recognise that future industrial competitiveness requires targeted investment to support collaborative research and development. Running from 2014 until 2020 with a budget of nearly €80 billion, the EU’s Horizon 2020 Programme is the biggest multinational research programme in the world.  The EU has fully recognised Japan’s role in the global ICT industry both in terms of enterprise R&D and academic research, and there are opportunities for EU-Japan cooperation under the Horizon 2020 programme. For its part, Ireland’s ISCA Programme is a 2 year funding programme, the primary objective of which is to develop R&D cooperation between Ireland and Japan across 6 thematic areas, including ICT.

Speaking in advance of the visit, Her Excellency, Ms Anne Barrington, Ambassador of Ireland to Japan said:“Japan is the third largest economy in the World and a major international R&D center.  Building a collaborative research relationship between Japan and Ireland is a key objective of the Embassy.  Ireland is a base of significant operations for many of the world’s top ICT companies and an important hub of top ICT researchers has developed at both Irish based companies and research institutes.  I am very pleased that the Irish ICT research community has prioritised Japan as a location for research collaboration”.

Dr. Theo Lynn, Business Innovation Platform Director of Dublin City University and Irish-based organiser of the visit said: “The SFI International Strategic Cooperation Award (ISCA) Japan programme supports new and existing research-based collaborations between Ireland’s Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and partner organisations in Japan. This visit will initiate or strengthen cooperation between Irish researchers and a wide range of Japanese corporations, research institutions and universities in cloud computing, big data analytics and the Internet of Things.  The main goal of our mission is to build stronger recognition of Irish research capabilities in Japan and establish Ireland as a solid partner in ICT research”.

Professor Stefan Decker, Director of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics said: “Our experience working on projects with Fujitsu Labs has been extremely positive. It has delivered best practice industry-academia knowledge sharing, a commercially important application and created valuable high-end research jobs in Ireland. This visit offers us an opportunity to further strengthen our investment in research collaboration with Japanese partners in the area of big data analytics.”

Tony McEnroe, Centre Director of the Irish Centre for Cloud Computing and Commerce said: “Japan is regularly cited as the most ready country in the world to take advantage of cloud computing technologies and is a leader in the development of international standards related to cloud computing. Our academic partners and industry members believe Japan is a strategic market for the evolving connected society. We believe that Ireland can become a key R&D and cloud service partner for Japanese enterprises seeking transformation through cloud computing. We are enthused by the positive response we are receiving from our discussions with the Japanese industrial base and look forward to meaningful industry-led collaborations in the future.”

The schedule for the visit included a series of meetings with multinational ICT companies with operations in Ireland and Japan, key indigenous Japanese ICT industry players, universities and research institutions. These included NTT Data, Fujitsu Laboratories, the SAP Co-Innovation Lab, RIKEN, Microsoft, IBM Research, Konica Minolta, Toshiba Cloud Systems and Solutions, Hitachi, and Sharp. The researcher delegation included representatives of NUI Galway, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, Waterford Institute of Technology, the Irish Centre for Cloud Computing and Commerce, the Insight Centre for Data Analytics and the Tyndall National Institute.