Q&A

JST HOME SATREPS HOME Access for Research Institutions Q&A

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Q&A

1. Q&A about the SATREPS program objectives and purposes

Q : 

How many projects have been selected so far, and what sort of projects are they?


A : 

12 projects were selected in FY2008, 20 in FY2009, 17 in FY2010, 10 in FY2011, 8 in FY2012, 10 in FY2013, 10 in FY2014,14 in FY2015, and 14 in FY2016, giving a total of 115 international joint research projects (including projects in Infectious Diseases Control field). Details of these projects are given in the SATREPS brochure and at the following website:
http://www.jst.go.jp/global/english/kadai/index.html


Q : 

What are the main changes in the FY2017 Invitation for Research Proposals compared to the previous FY?


A : 

The main changes in the FY2017 Invitation for Research Proposals are listed at the following website:
http://www.jst.go.jp/global/koubo.html (Japanese)


Q : 

How should I gain an understanding of the developing country’s needs?


A : 

Under the SATREPS program, one of the key perspectives applied when selecting projects is whether a research proposal is in line with the needs of the developing country. Proposals are expected to show a proper understanding of the partner country needs, obtained through means such as prior contact and interaction in a research context. One useful reference is the Country Assistance Policy (an ODA policy that MOFA establishes by comprehensively taking into account factors such as the local political, economic, and social situations, development plan, and development challenges) which has been formulated for some countries. Country Assistance Policies are published on the MOFA website:
http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/oda/assistance/index2.html
For some countries, the website below also lists themes on which JICA considers research is needed, based on the circumstances of the countries:
http://www.jst.go.jp/global/pdf/researchneeds.pdf (Japanese)
Furthermore, in order to conduct international joint research with the aim of application of outcomes, a systematic approach is expected in the partner country, bringing in partner country government agencies, etc. The selection process takes into account whether the structure is adequate for that purpose. When setting up a project, we also recommend liaising in advance with the Japanese embassy in the partner country and with the local JICA office.


Q : 

Does having the project linked to ODA mean that the principal investigator needs to be stationed in the partner country (long term overseas dispatch)?


A : 

The principal investigator does not necessarily need to be stationed in the partner country, but it is considered important for the principal investigator to visit the partner country and manage the project on the ground. Technical cooperation projects allow for flexibility, including dispatch on a short-term shuttle basis. Nevertheless, in order to ensure that the activities in the partner country proceed smoothly and to enhance the effectiveness of the project, it is of course desirable for Japan-side researchers to be either be stationed in the partner country full time or close to full time. When planning the dispatch of researchers to the partner country, take into consideration that the Japan-side researchers are required to contribute through the joint research to developing the partner country’s self-reliant research and capacity development, and that as project director the principal investigator is responsible for the dispatch of researchers overseas as part of the international joint research.


Q : 

Is it necessary to station Japan-side research participants other than the principal investigator in the partner country?


A : 

It is not necessarily the case that Japan-side researchers have to be stationed in the partner country, but an appropriate strategy is essential. In order for the joint research to proceed smoothly in the partner country (a developing country), and because the purpose of the project is capacity development of the developing country through joint research, if researchers are not stationed overseas, it is necessary for them to be regularly dispatched to the partner country and that their emphasis is on their research overseas, such as by spending three months in the partner country followed by one month back in Japan. Projects are selected through an overall evaluation that includes consideration of the Japan-side implementation structure described in the proposal.


Q : 

Can a researcher affiliated with a research institution in a third country (not the partner country) participate in the project?


A : 

In principle, a researcher affiliated with a research institution located in a third country cannot participate in the project. However, such researchers can be invited to workshops, etc. Moreover it is possible for such a researcher to become affiliated (as a visiting researcher, etc.) with an institution participating in the joint research (including the principal investigator’s institution), and participate in the research under the auspices of that institution.


Q : 

Is there a restriction on the number of SATREPS program applications that can be made per institution?


A : 

There is no restriction on the number of applications that can be made per institution. If multiple applications are made from a single institution, each set of research proposal documents is required to include a separate written approval from the director of the institution (president or chair of the board, etc.).




2. Q&A about operation of the parts of the program handled mainly by JST (Q&A mainly about selection and implementation of research within Japan)

(1) Application requirements

Q : 

What requirements do private-sector companies need to satisfy to apply for the program?


A : 

The requirements include the company being incorporated in Japan.


Q : 

Can a private-sector company be a principal investigator’s institution?


A : 

Yes, it can. However, the following point needs to be taken into account.
A company conducting activities with a public nature can become the principal investigator’s institution for a project. Even if the company is not conducting activities with a public nature, it can still become the principal investigator’s institution if it makes a joint proposal with a university or similar institution.


Q : 

What points need to be borne in mind when a private-sector company participates?


A : 

The following points need to be borne in mind.

  • Before JST can conclude a Contract Research Agreement with a company or similar entity, it screens the company to determine whether the contract is possible and what sort of form the contract should take. As a result of this screening, JST may require compliance with a particular form of contractual relationship. If the company’s state of finances is markedly unstable, the contract may be judged unfeasible, preventing the research project from being conducted at the proposed research institution. In such a case, the proposer may be required to take action such as reviewing the implementation structure.
  • The SATREPS program is based on the premise of joint research with a partner country. In addition to implementing the research, there are requirements for publication of outcomes and sharing of intellectual assets, and for outgoing transfer of samples and information, etc. The company is requested to confirm in advance with the partner country side that entering into such a relationship with private-sector affiliated researchers is not a problem.
  • Salary etc. for the person in charge of the research (principal investigator/lead joint researcher) cannot be covered as direct expenses.
  • If certain conditions are satisfied, it is possible to cover salary etc. for other research participants (members involved with a specific research item).
  • When using ODA costs to procure goods, in principle a competitive procurement process should be used (either bidding or comparative quotes), based on specifications that do not require specific brands.

Details are available at the following website under Contract Research Agreement Administrative Procedures (for private-sector companies).
http://www.jst.go.jp/global/itaku.html (Japanese)


Q : 

Can a post-doc submit an application as principal investigator?


A : 

A Post-doc cannot apply as principal investigator or lead joint researcher.


Q : 

Can post-doc students or graduate school or similar students participate in the research project?


A : 

Postdoctoral research fellows and graduate students can take on specific roles in the research project, and by being listed as research participants in the research plan documents, can participate as members in the project. Undergraduate students can also participate under similar conditions as part of the process of nurturing excellent researchers in Japan. Because of their status as students, graduate students and undergraduates cannot be dispatched to the partner country as overseas researchers using ODA costs, but if certain conditions are satisfied (concluding an employment contract with the affiliated institution, traveling together with an overseas researcher, etc.), it is possible to cover travel and the costs of employment of students as research assistants under JST contract research expenses. See the Contract Research Agreement Administrative Procedures etc. for details.


Q : 

Can a researcher who is not a Japanese national submit an application as principal investigator?


A : 

As long as he or she is affiliated with a research institution in Japan, a non-Japanese national researcher can apply as principal investigator.


Q : 

Can a researcher who is not a Japanese national apply as an overseas researcher?


A : 

The SATREPS is based on Japan providing technical cooperation and building relationships with the partner country, so in principle, it assumes the dispatch of researchers who are Japanese nationals. Nevertheless, if there are no other researchers with specific skills required and a non-Japanese national is irreplaceable for the project, then that researcher may be dispatched as an overseas researcher as long as the partner country government accepts the dispatch. In such cases, the researcher can be dispatched under ODA costs (and in cases where dispatch as an overseas researcher is not possible, traveling to the partner country under JST contract research expenses is in principle possible, although the researcher may not be eligible for rights and exemptions applied under agreements with the partner country, including tax exemptions and legal immunity).


Q : 

Can researchers without a specific affiliation participate?


A : 

In principle, researchers without a specific affiliation cannot participate in the joint research. However it is possible for a participating institution (including the principal investigator’s institution) to give affiliation status (visiting researcher, etc.) to the researcher so that he or she can participate in the research with that institution providing coverage and taking responsibility.


Q : 

On the premise that research will be implemented at the counterpart institution, can a Japanese national resident outside Japan submit an application as principal investigator?


A : 

In principle, this is not permitted. The program envisages a principal investigator based in Japan and the institution he or she is affiliated with conducting joint research with a principal investigator based in the partner country and the institution he or she is affiliated with.


Q : 

Can a part-time staff member (visiting researcher, etc.) submit an application as principal investigator?


A : 

This is possible if the researcher can provide an implementation structure at a research institution in Japan for the duration of the research period. Whether it is possible to make an agreement and sign a contract with the research institution for the part-time staff member to be principal investigator depends on the contractual relationship between the research institution and the part-time staff member.


Q : 

If the principal investigator moves to a different institution partway through the project term, can the research still continue?


A : 

Under the SATREPS program, in principle, the principal investigator’s institution at the time of project selection is responsible for providing a research implementation structure based around the principal investigator for the duration of the research period. If unavoidable circumstances result in the principal investigator moving to a different institution, consideration needs to be given to a replacement of principal investigator within the principal investigator’s institution originally selected. It may also be possible to continue with the research if the principal investigator’s new institution is capable of continuing the research, including the relationship with the partner country side, without problem, and moreover, if it is possible to sign a Contract Research Agreement with JST, make the Agreement with JICA, and sign agreements (CRA etc.) with the counterpart institution. If the possibility of the principal investigator moving to a different institution arises, contact JST and JICA to discuss the issue.


Q : 

Do Forms 1-10 have to be completed in Japanese?


A : 

In principle, Forms 1-10 should be completed in Japanese. However, if that is problematic, English is acceptable. English-language copies of the application forms are posted on the English-language SATREPS website.
http://www.jst.go.jp/global/english/koubo.html
The research proposal forms must be submitted via e-Rad, the Cross-ministerial R&D Management System. This system has some sections that require entry in Japanese. For those sections, seek assistance from a Japanese speaker.
Interviews in the selection process are also in principle conducted in Japanese, but if that is problematic, English is acceptable.



(2) JST contract research expenses

Q : 

Are there restrictions on how JST contract research expenses can be used?


A : 

Details regarding contract research expenses are available at the following website under Contract Research Agreement Administrative Procedures.
http://www.jst.go.jp/global/itaku.html (Japanese)


(3) Implementation structure

Q : 

Can the implementation structure described in the research proposal documents be changed during interviews or after selection?


A : 

The selection process is based on the research proposal documents, so the structure should be given careful consideration when writing the research proposal, in order to ensure that no need for unnecessary changes arises. Adjustments etc. may be made if authorized by the Research Supervisor (RS), and changes may be requested during the process of JICA signing the R/D with the counterpart institution before commencing the international joint research.


(4) Research contracts

Q : 

Can the research contract with the lead joint researcher’s institution in Japan be structured as subcontracting (see note) via the principal investigator’s institution?

Note:Subcontracting in the research contract refers to a situation where only the principal investigator’s institution signs a contract with JST, and a research contract is signed by that affiliated institution and the joint researcher’s affiliated institution.


A : 

Under the SATREPS program, a subcontracting structure is not used for research contracts. JST concludes separate research contracts with the research institutions that the principal investigator and lead joint researcher are affiliated with. * JICA only has a contractual relationship with the principal investigator's institution, not with any other institutions involved in the joint research.


3. Q&A about JICA/ODA (mainly Q&A about implementation of research in the partner country)

(1) Countries eligible for international joint research

Q : 

Is it possible to conduct joint research with multiple research institutions in the partner country?


A : 

Yes, it is possible to conduct joint research with multiple research institutions in a single partner country. In such cases, the names of all institutions must be listed in the ODA request form, and the main research institution for joint research in the partner country must be specified.


(2) ODA application by the partner country

Q : 

In addition to the proposal documents submitted to JST, is it necessary for the government agency handling ODA in the partner country, at the instigation of the counterpart research institution in the partner country, to make a request for the implementation of an ODA technical cooperation project (submit a request for cooperation)?


A : 

It is essential for the partner country side to submit a request for ODA, in addition to the proposal documents for a research project submitted to JST. Only projects where both the research proposal and the ODA request have been submitted are screened. If either of these documents is not received by the specified deadline, the project will be automatically excluded from selection.


Q : 

Is it necessary for the details of the technical cooperation project in the partner country to have already been fixed in the request form at the point that the proposal documents are submitted to JST?


A : 

You need to coordinate the content of the request from the partner country before the request form is submitted. In particular, as noted on the proposal forms, there needs to be consensus between the Japan-side and the partner country side regarding the proposed research project title (English), research objectives, research outcome targets, research plans and implementation of plans, implementation structure, approximate amounts and details of machinery and equipment, personnel, etc. to be used, and research period, etc. After provisional selection, JICA will finalize detailed plans for the purpose of signing the R/D with the partner country institution. Please understand that as a result of that process, you may be required to modify the research plans presented in the proposal. The research project title (English) has to be the same as the project name on the ODA technical cooperation project request form. Ensure that there is sufficient coordination with the counterpart institution on this point.


Q : 

Where can I obtain the ODA request form?


A : 

A template for the ODA request form is available on the following JICA website, but the actual ODA request form is fixed by the government agency handling ODA in each country. For details, the counterpart institution should contact the government agency that covers it, or the government agency handling ODA.
http://www.jica.go.jp/activities/schemes/science/faq/answer.html#al-3 (in Japanese)


Q : 

Has JICA informed each developing country of the purposes and structure of the SATREPS program? Also, does the applicant in Japan need to be able to respond to the partner country’s inquiries about procedures, etc.?


A : 

MOFA/JICA has informed the government agency handling ODA in each of the developing countries eligible for the program. However, due to individual circumstances within each country, that information may not have reached as far as the partner country researchers who are potential research counterparts. The applicant should be aware of that situation and ensure sufficient coordination in advance with the partner country researcher (and his or her affiliated institution).


(3) Eligible counterpart institutions, partner country researchers; relationships

Q : 

Are companies and NGOs in other countries able to participate in a project?


A : 

The SATREPS program is implemented as technical cooperation projects on the basis of formal requests from the partner country and international commitments between the partner country and Japan. NGOs and simple private-sector companies without government ownership are not covered by the program. However, this does not prevent the participation of private-sector companies and NGOs in the research as partners collaborating within the partner country when the partner country side research institution is a government entity.


Q : 

Are international agencies able to participate in a project?


A : 

Regional international agencies in the developing country are not excluded from participating, but as explained in the Q&A regarding the ODA request form submission process, pre-conditions include submission to the Japanese embassy of an ODA request by the formal route via the partner country government agency handling ODA and the partner country government agency responsible for facilitating operation of the international agencies, providing them with special privileges and immunities, and pledging tax exemptions and other special rights and exemptions for the SATREPS program experts and machinery and equipment, etc. They also include securing the entity’s own personnel and costs required to implement the joint research. Handling of intellectual assets also needs to be taken into account.


Q : 

If the principal investigator’s institution in Japan has already signed agreements with the partner country government or research institution, is there any need for JICA to sign a new agreement of some form with the partner country side in order to implement the project?


A : 

Yes, it is necessary. The SATREPS program is a collaborative program linked with ODA, and projects are implemented as JICA technical cooperation projects based on international commitments between the two countries. Based on these international commitments, JICA must sign documents such as an R/D with the partner country side.


(4) ODA project expenses, etc.

Q : 

What level of authority is required for signing the Agreement and project contract between JICA and the principal investigator’s institution?


A : 

For the main Agreement, which only needs to be signed once on the first occasion for each principal investigator’s institution, we envisage the Agreement being signed at the institute’s top level (president or chair of the board of a university), and by the president of JICA. For the annexes to the Agreement (signed for each project), we envisage them being signed by the head of research at the principal investigator’s institution (dean, etc.) and by JICA’s director of the department in charge of the project. For the project contract, we envisage it being signed by a director of the principal investigator’s institution with authority for contracts, and by JICA’s vice-president in charge of finance and accounting.


Q : 

Why are clinical trials and medical practice not eligible for joint research? (Please give more details.)


A : 

Refer to the following JICA Policy.

a) Clinical trials/clinical studies/clinical research
Clinical trials with the aim of development, manufacture, or sale of pharmaceuticals or medical devices, or clinical studies/clinical research that is invasive, or infringes privacy are not acceptable as JICA projects. It is however possible for JICA projects to include training, instruction, or counseling of workers (medical staff, etc.) involved in such activities.

b) Handling of medical practices*
Medical practices are not acceptable as JICA projects (the reasons are that researchers are not sent abroad with the aim of conducting medical practices, are not licensed as clinicians in the host country, and it is not appropriate for JICA to take responsibility for medical practice).
* What is considered medical practice differs according to each country's circumstances. Even if something is considered to be medical practice, JICA will give approval (with conditions concerning safety and responsibility) if consulted in advance for practices such as blood sample collection, fecal examination, and measurement of body temperature or blood pressure that are not significantly risky. Ask JICA if clarification is required.

c) Safety measures and ethical considerations for research projects
Research projects must comply with ethical guidelines in Japan and in the partner country. They must be assessed by an ethics committee in the partner country, and the safety of all persons directly or indirectly involved in the project, together with safety for the environment, must be secured before the project commences.