May 29, 2020
Aiming to review essential challenges in stagnation of innovations in Japan and to show future directions of R&D for groups of important technologies to which Japan should intensively input resources toward 2025 or beyond toward 2050, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) inaugurated an R&D and Innovation Subcommittee of the Committee on Industrial Science and Technology Policy and Environment under the Industrial Structure Council and, since then, the subcommittee held repeated discussions and compiled the results into a report titled “Industrial Technology Vision 2020.” Considering this Industrial Technology Vision 2020 as a catalyst, METI will strive to create a virtuous cycle of innovations.
Japan needs to further create innovations in order to: take actions for achieving SDGs, shifting to the circular economy, and solving social challenges, e.g., measures for addressing disasters and infectious diseases; and enhance industrial competitiveness. Nevertheless, Japan has been facing sluggish situations in terms of innovations in recent years, while it has not prepared well for introducing the Society 5.0 policy, which was highlighted by the crisis caused by recent expansion of the novel coronavirus disease. Japan should, anew, tackle creation of innovations by not only ascertaining essential problems that Japan’s innovation systems confront but also identifying challenges to be solved from mid- to long-term viewpoints seen from industrial technologies.
Key points of the Industrial Technology Vision 2020
Based on this problem awareness and taking into consideration five global mega-trends and international trends toward 2050, the subcommittee tentatively identified essential challenges that Japan confronts and compiled future directions of industrial technologies toward 2050, goals that Japan should achieve by 2050, and other issues into the Industrial Technology Vision 2020.
- A key to allowing Japan to adapt to global mega-trends and dynamically respond to changes in order to achieve the Society 5.0 policy is diverse and organic innovations, and it is inevitable for Japan to shift to an intellectual capitalism-based economy, which efficiently makes use of knowledge capital.
- Toward 2050, Japan should present to people at home and abroad value in which it raises awareness of sustainable global commons (i.e., common asset among human beings in both cyber spaces and physical spaces) as well as enhancing its presence in efforts for creating innovation industries, namely integrating and networking technologies, human resources and other elements and creating ecosystems. Through these efforts, Japan will achieve international contributions.
- Placing eyes on these mid- to long-term goals, the report presents Japan’s future directions of three-layered actions:
- Enhancing innovation power by empowering “individuals”: Building systems and infrastructures for: accelerating investments placing “people” at the core as a source of knowledge capital serving as a foundation of innovations; and integrating knowledge capital (Layer 1);
- Breaking away from the existing closed business models and technocentrism and promoting open innovations: Prioritizing strategies which comprehensively connect all business elements from research and development to business development in order to commercialize newly-created technical seeds and sublimate them to social value (Layer 2); and
- Identifying fields to which Japan should intensively input resources to achieve the Society 5.0 policy (Layer 3); (A) digital technologies driving the intellectual capitalism-based economy, e.g., Intelligence of Things, human augmentation and next-generation computing bolstering them, (B) biotechnologies, a field having strong growth potentials as an innovation industry, (C) material technologies, a foundation of all fields and (D) energy and environmental technologies, a solution to all negative aspects of economy.
- Stagnation of innovations in Japan is a deep-rooted complicated challenge and overcoming this challenge will not be achieved only by using one, single panacea. Japan should integrally and comprehensively promote efforts of these three layers and put the gears of innovations into operation.