Update of the roadmap for research and innovation cooperation between EU and Japan

Categories: News

Tags: EU-Japan | Horizon 2020 | MSCA | ERC

The updated versions of the multi-annual roadmaps for cooperation in research and innovation with key partner countries and regions were published in December 2018.

The multi-annual roadmaps implement the EU strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation, laying out the current state of play and future areas for cooperation with twelve key partner countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, South Korea and United States) and six regions (Enlargement countries, Eastern Partnership, Southern Neighbourhood, ASEAN, African Union and CELAC). The updates concern developments in the EU's cooperation with these countries over the last 12 months, including the outcomes of the EU's regular science and technology cooperation dialogues and the first results of the implementation of the international  cooperation flagships of Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018-2020.

Japan as an R&I partner of the EU

EU-Japan relations have developed steadily over the past two decades. Sharing many of the same challenges (energy security, access to critical raw materials, ageing populations), and defending a similar approach to key international challenges such as international security and climate change, Japan is in many ways one of Europe’s closest partners on the international arena.

Cooperation between the EU and Japan in Research and Innovation (R&I) is governed by the Agreement on S&T Cooperation, which came into force in 2011. The EU-Japan Joint S&T Committee established under this Agreement has met four times (June 2011 and June 2013 in Tokyo, May 2015 in Brussels, and November 2017 in Tokyo) to exchange information and views on S&T policy issues; identify and decide cooperative activities; review accomplishments; provide advice on the implementation of the agreement; review the reciprocal access to Research and Innovation (R&I) programmes and projects and arrangements for visiting researchers; and to examine measures to improve that access and to ensure the principle on reciprocity. The next meeting is planned to be held in Brussels in 2019.

Ongoing EU-Japan cooperation within Horizon 2020

In Horizon 2020 (2014-2020), up to October 2018, Japanese applicants are involved 377 times in 313 eligible proposals to collaborative actions. This has led to 30 successful projects, involving 33 participations, with an impressive success rate of 21.5% (as compared to 15.8% overall). Japanese beneficiaries have received EUR 2.5million from the European Commission (EC) and EUR 3.0 million from non-EC sources. Cooperation with Japan is further targeted in 22 call topics in Horizon 2020 Work Programme (WP) 2018-20 (see Annex). Horizon 2020 participation so far is mainly in the areas of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions that promote researchers' mobility; Environment research; Nanotechnologies and Advanced materials (NMBP); and Nuclear research cooperation through Euratom.

As regards the Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA), Japanese applicants are are involved 393 times in 336 eligible proposals. Japanese entities have participated 89 times (of which 1 as beneficiary) in the MSCA (7 in Individual Fellowships (IF), 60 in the RISE, 20 in the ITN and 2 in the COFUND programme), receiving EUR 0.1 million from the European Commission. Furthermore, a total of 126 researchers of Japanese nationality have participated in the MSCA. As regards ERC, a total of 32 Japanese nationals have acquired an ERC grant and 18 have participated in the ERC-JSPS exchange scheme so far.

EU-based branches of Japanese companies have participated actively in the framework programme. In Horizon 2020, there are more than 200 participations by more than 70 different Japanese companies based in Europe, notably in the field of ICT, Transport and Energy.

In addition, there have been 33 projects financed through 10 coordinated calls launched jointly by the EC and Japanese ministries/agencies between 2011 and 2017 in the areas of energy, aeronautics, materials, ICT and health/ICT robotics.

Priorities for the Future in S&T Cooperation

On the basis of the 4th EU-Japan Joint S&T Committee (JSTC) in November 2017 the following areas are considered to be priority areas for future cooperation with Japan:

- ICT: ICT has long been one of the most active areas of EU-Japan S&T cooperation, both at policy and project level. Four coordinated calls have been launched since 2013 with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication (MIC) and the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology of Japan (NICT) on 5G, Internet of Things, Cloud and Big Data. Four projects of the latest joint call kicked-off in July 2018. The 24th ICT Dialogue between DG CNECT and MIC is scheduled to take place in December 2018.

- Transport including Aeronautics: Aeronautics research is a strategic area for cooperation with Japan, providing EU industry with opportunities to reinforce links with Japanese industrial partners and improve access to the Japanese market and vice versa.In Work Programme (WP) 2018-2020 Japan is explicitly encouraged to participate in the multinational International Cooperation (INCO) flagship "Safer and Greener Aviation in a smaller world", notably in the topics on icing (2018), hybrid-electric propulsion (2019) and high-speed aviation (2020). Regarding other transport areas, there is a trilateral dialogue (EU, Japan, US) in the field of automated vehicles. As a consequence, automated road vehicles and maritime transport can be expected to play a role in EU-Japan S&T cooperation. This is reflected in the Horizon 2020 WP 2018-2020, where Japan is a targeted country in four call topics covering the INCO Flagship on "Road automation and safety".

- Nanosafety, Advanced Materials (including Critical Raw Materials) and Regulatory Science: The area of critical material is in many ways a model for EU-Japan cooperation, both at the policy level (common strategic interest), as well as at project level (coordinated calls). For medical technologies for global healthcare, cooperation with Japan could lead to a better determination of potential product efficacy as well as an earlier determination of their risk. The possibility of future cooperation in this area should be examined and could be pursued through the Horizon 2020 INCO Flagship on "Technologies for global health care", proposed for multilateral international cooperation.

Besides the three areas ICT, Transport including Aeronautics, and Advanced Materials Research, mutually agreed by the JSTC, there is considerable cooperation in the field of nuclear research (fission and fusion), and on the EU FET projects on Human Brain (developing large-scale simulation of human brain), Graphene, and Quantum Technologies.


EU–Japan high level meeting on research and innovation cooperation

On 29 November 2018, Carlos Moedas, EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation and Jean-Eric Paquet, Director-General for Research and Innovation, met with Yoshio Yamawaki, Japanese Deputy Minister for Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), and Hiroshi Matsumoto, President of RIKEN (Japan’s Institute of Physical and Chemical Research). They exchanged information on new science, technology and innovation policies in Europe and in Japan, and discussed closer cooperation in view of the next European Union framework programme for research and innovation – Horizon Europe - and the next Japanese Science and Technology Basic Plan - both of which will start in 2021.

New cooperation arrangement signed between the European Commission and the Japan Science and Technology Agency to strengthen researchers cooperation

On 7 October, Mr Jean-Eric Paquet, Director-General for Research and Innovation, European Commission, together with Mr Michinari Hamaguchi, President of the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), signed a cooperation arrangement promoting researchers' cooperation between Japan and the European Union. The arrangement was signed in the presence of Ms Patricia Flor, Head of the EU Delegation to Japan, Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, President of the European Research Council (ERC) and Minister Masahiko Shibayama of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Science and Technology (MEXT).

The arrangement will provide opportunities for Japan-based researchers supported by active JST projects to pursue research collaboration with European researchers already supported through active EU-funded ERC grants. Either single and long-term (3-12 months) or multiple short-term research visits are envisaged. The two sides also intend to explore the possibility of attracting and encouraging European researchers to visit Japanese research teams.

The implementing arrangement will be the second such arrangement signed with a Japanese research funding agency. There is already such an arrangement with the agency Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (from 2015).