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Center of Innovation (COI) Program

Objectives of the COI Program

It is necessary for Japan to constantly create radical innovation in order to achieve economic recovery as well as continue to survive in international competition in the future.

The Center of Innovation (COI) program is one of the main funding programs under the Center of Innovation Science and Technology based Radical Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program (COI STREAM) which was launched in 2013 by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).

For COI STREAM, MEXT (i) sets visions by using a backcasting method with the aim of realizing a desirable society and way of life, (ii) identifies R&D challenges along the visions, (iii) breaks out the frameworks of traditional research fields and existing organizations, and (iv) provides intensive support for industry-academia collaboration from basic research to practical application. COI STREAM intends not only to realize radical innovation which is difficult to be accomplished by industry or academia alone, but also to establish innovation platforms in Japan.

The COI program is operated by JST along the visions of COI STREAM. In this program, JST forms and supports industry-academia collaborative teams so that they can tackle fundamental, multi- and interdisciplinary R&D challenges which are at high risk but with great expectations from the society.

Main locations where COI teams’ activities take place are called “COI site.” The activities of COI sites are carried out by a potluck method, i.e. the companies participating in a COI team make appropriate contributions in terms of financial, human and other in-kind resources, throughout the R&D period, and the structure of their industry-academia collaboration can be flexible and optimized in light of the overall circumstances.

Structure of the COI Program

The COI program is administered as a part of the scheme of COI STREAM.

COI STREAM has the COI STREAM Governing Committee and the Visionary Teams. The Governing Committee is a top decision making body which is responsible for determining visions and management policies for COI STREAM while the Visionary Teams are set up for each vision and in charge of shaping the detailed design of COI sites along the visions.

Activities of the COI Program

1. Structure of a COI Site

A COI site has one Project Leader from industry and one Research Leader from academia.

Project Leaders supervise the overall management of COI sites and their R&D activities, while Research Leaders are responsible for the day-to-day operation of the headquarters of COI sites and support of R&D strategy planning, etc. In the case that a COI site consists of several research institutes, a single institute must be identified as a representative institute for the COI site.

2. Conclusion of Entrusted Research and Development Agreement

Research institutes participating in a COI site need to submit a written consent to the implementation plan of the COI site and conclude an entrusted R&D agreement with JST. In addition, all research institutes and companies joining a COI site are required to sign a cooperative R&D agreement regarding how to handle intellectual property resulting from their cooperative research, etc.

3. Research and Development Expenses

R&D funding for a COI site is expected to maximum 1 billion yen per year, including overhead expenses.

4. Research and Development Period

JST supports a COI site up to 9 years. COI sites are expected to become a self-sustaining and industry-centered innovation platform at the end of the R&D period and continue to create radical innovation.

5. Required Documentation

Research institutes which concluded an entrusted R&D agreement with JST need to submit various reports every year, such as an implementation report and an accounting management report, in accordance with the agreement. These institutes are also required to submit a completion report at the end of the R&D period.

6. Program Management by the Visionary Teams

JST organizes a supporting committee for and centering on each Visionary Team which reviews proposals of possible COI sites, and conducts interim#1 and final#2 evaluations regarding the performance of COI sites. The Visionary Teams take appropriate actions for the achievement of each COI site’s objectives, such as monitoring the progress of COI sites’ activities online and on-site, providing support and suggestions for their R&D activities, and doing follow-up after the R&D period. If any actions across the visions are necessary, the Structuring Team led by the Principal Visionary Leader undertakes coordination and adjustments among parties concerned.

#1: Every 3 years or upon request of the Visionary Teams
#2: At the end of the R&D period

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