This strategic proposal suggests a framework for an innovation ecosystem aimed at solving problems and basic conditions for scientists' participation in the ecosystem.
From the beginning of the 20th century, innovation has significantly contributed to the development of society, but at the same time has caused various problems that have threatened social sustainability. While advances in science and technology have improved the productivity and competitiveness of industry, various problems including global warming and environmental pollution have emerged as a consequence of our large consumption of energy and natural resources. These problems have become increasingly serious in the 21st century. It is necessary that we properly deal with not only these problems, but also problems arising in the future. Therefore, it is essential that, as a means to solve such problems, we continuously create innovation for solving problems that threaten social sustainability, in other words, "innovation aimed at solving problems".
Innovation is created through a process in which various factors such as talent, knowledge, funds, systems, and markets are related to one another in a complex manner. The process involves uncertainty associated with, for example, unexpected success or failure in research and development and the demand for new products and services. To convert obstructive factors lurking in this complex and uncertain process, we must organize a complicated environment surrounding innovation, which could be seen as an ecosystem, into a favorable system for innovation. In other words, continuous creation of innovation for solving problems requires an innovation ecosystem aimed at problem solving where constant creative activities involving various factors would lead, through their dynamism, to efficient and effective creation of innovation.
Society requires that science and technology solve problems that threaten social sustainability. It is a duty of science and technology to respond to this requirement and provide innovation aimed at problem solving. Such innovation is created through a loop involving society and full research. This "full research" consists of three aspects:
(i) the detection of threats to social sustainability and the setting up of problems to be solved; (ii) the designing of solutions to the problems; and (iii) the implementation of the solutions in society, and conducting these as a whole. A loop between society and full research-where full research produces results in answer to society's requirements and where, based on the results, society has new requirements of (future) full research-would continuously advance toward the realization of a sustainable society. The innovation ecosystem aimed at solving problems would expand globally, and the constituent players would include not only scientists, but also the government, administrative agencies, industry, think tanks, and NGOs/NPOs. Each of them plays a role in creating innovations. Through exchanges of information among and between the players and society new value is created, thereby contributing to solving problems that threaten social sustainability and the sustainable development of society. Scientist must actively participate in the innovation ecosystem aimed at solving problems and improve the performance of the loop linking society and full research.
Therefore, we must attempt to share and distribute information beyond the borders of nations and disciplines in all three aspects of full research. Moreover, diverse talent, knowledge, and funds are needed to promote the three aspects of full research as a whole. The development of facilities and equipment, regulations and standards, and systems can be an effective measure in concentrating the factors necessary for problem solving in needed places. To promote full research aimed at solving problems, the following three aspects of full research plus the creation of an appropriate environment are necessary.
1. Problem Setting ・Observing scientists, in cooperation with think tanks, consider the medium to long-term prospects of future society and detect potential threats that can have serious social effects. ・Observing scientists, in cooperation with think tanks, analyze the social effects of threats from various perspectives, decompose them to find concrete problems, and set up problems to be solved. ・The government and administrative agencies regularly review prospects of future society and build a mechanism to modify or change the setting of the problems to be solved.
2. Solution Design ・Designing scientists, in cooperation with the government and administrative agencies, promote the development of new integrative science and technology, and build an organic link between the development of technologies and knowledge creation for problem solving. ・Designing scientists, industry, and the public sector promote industryacademia- government collaboration, international collaborative research, and the formation of consortiums and research centers to find, with support from think tanks and NGOs/NPOs, optimal relationships between the fruits of science and technology and society or safety/comfort/convenience in people's lives.
3. Solution Implementation in Society ・Actors consisting of scientists, industry, the public sector, NGOs/NPOs, and specialists from think tanks create an environment and systems based on the basic design of solutions through trial operations in specially designated areas. ・Through industry-academia-government collaboration and the formation of consortiums and a network of regional activities, actors internationally expand the building of an organic link between the development of technologies and the creation of knowledge for problem solving.
4. Development of Systems for Collaborative Promotion ・Scientists, industry, and the public sector cooperatively build a network of research and development efforts aimed at solving problems, and the public sector leads efforts to combine existing systems and constructs a mechanism in which relevant government agencies coordinate their administrative activities for promoting full research. In order to support the formation of career paths for people engaged in full research for problem solving, the public sector conducts evaluations based on the degree of contribution to problem solving and provides employment at administrative agencies or NGOs/NPOs, with help from scientists, industry, and NGOs/NPOs. ・Scientists, industry, and the public sector cooperatively build a system in which
Asian countries collaborate in promoting full research aimed at solving problems, and support necessary exchanges of talent, knowledge, and funds.
Various efforts are conducted both domestically and internationally toward the realization of a sustainable innovation ecosystem that can effectively and efficiently promote innovation aimed at solving problems. Examples include foresight projects, interdisciplinary research, reverse innovation, public support for solution implementation in society, and business pursuits on a global scale.
The Center for Research and Development Strategy (CDRS) of the Japan Science and Technology Agency has been examining innovation systems. CRDS has also been focusing on new interdisciplinary research as a new tool for innovation and investigating ways to promote it. Moreover, CRDS has been advocating concepts such as science and technology-based innovation, the National Innovation Ecosystem, and the Global Innovation Ecosystem and has proposed measures necessary for promoting new interdisciplinary research. Based on these efforts, this strategic proposal suggests measures to move forward a new innovation ecosystem which is needed for solving problems that threaten social sustainability.