HOME > Activities > Utilizing University IP to drive innovation > A-STEP―Collaborative R&D between industry and academia utilizing IP (Funding)

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Competitive Funding Programs

A-STEP (Adaptable & Seamless Technology Transfer Program through Target-driven R&D)

Promoting industry–academia collaborative R&D based on the research output and IP generated by basic research

Objectives

This program supports collaborative industry–academia R&D based on the results of high-quality basic research (research output, IP, etc.) to ensure that the benefits of research are passed onto Japanese society. Depending on the R&D phase and objectives of each particular project, A-STEP determines the optimal R&D funding and R&D period to enable the seamless pursuit of medium- to long-term R&D. Through this approach, the program aims to bridge the gaps between academic research results and industry to realize highly effective and efficient innovation.

Overview

Fields: All fields of natural science. A-STEP comprises 10 types of support at the feasibility study (FS) stage and the full-scale R&D stage.

  • FS stage
    Investigation of technology transfer potential; validation of potential as a technology seed that will meet the needs of companies; and validation of potential to become the technology seed for a university-launched start-up company.
  • Full-scale R&D stage
    R&D in preparation for the establishment of a university-launched start-up venture that aims for the practical application of technology seeds; and R&D during the practical verification and testing phase through joint R&D by an industry–academia partnership.

Unique characteristics of A-STEP

  • One-stop support
    A-STEP unifies such functions as consultation services for universities and companies and front-office services for the receipt of applications. By contacting the A-STEP office, all relevant information can be acquired.
  • Seamless R&D support
    At the full-scale R&D stage, in which applicants may freely combine several types of support into one application, A-STEP provides seamless, medium- to long-term support through "stage-gate evaluation" whereby each type of post-evaluation and pre-evaluation for the next type are carried out together. This approach facilitates the pursuit of R&D that has produced strong results without having to reapply for further support. The system also helps us to provide a seamless connection between R&D output and further R&D, thereby enabling the rapid utilization of results.
  • Optimizing flexible R&D
    At the selection stage, in cases where it is judged that an earlier stage support type is preferable over the support type being applied for, it is possible to continue with selection based on a revamped plan and proceed to R&D execution in accordance with the advice of the evaluation board. This is designed to facilitate the creation of a flexible R&D environment in which researchers and companies are encouraged to boldly make their R&D plans as effective and efficient as possible.
Number of applications approved (FY2010)
  • •  FS stage:
    Exploratory Research: 859
    Seeds Validation: 82
    Start-up Validation: 5
  • •  Full-scale R&D stage: Not yet determined

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A-STEP Support Content

Feasibility Study (FS) Stage
Support Type Exploratory Research Seeds Validation Start-up Validation
Support objective Broad exploration of the potential for technology transfer of output from university research from a commercial perspective The output from academic research is seen to hold potential technology seeds. The applicant pair, comprising the academic researcher and a company, verify the potential for future practical application. Verification of the potential for a start-up venture based on the output of academic research
Applicant requirements University or other research institute-based researcher Joint application by university or other research institute-based researcher and a company Joint application by university or other research institute-based researcher and an indirect support institution
R&D period
(in principle)
Single fiscal year Up to one year
Total R&D funding (including indirect expenses) Standard amount: ¥1.3 million Standard amount: ¥8 million
Contract fund

Full-scale R&D Stage
Support program type Young Entrepreneur Start-up Venture High-risk Challenge Promoting R&D Practical Application
Program sub-type Development by SME Start-up Drug Development Contract Development
Support objective R&D support for young researchers who have a strong desire to start a business venture based on the practical application of their own research output R&D support for the establishment of a high-growth start-up venture based on technology seeds from academic research Support for high-risk R&D projects. Covers the R&D phase up to verification testing of technology seeds from academic research Support for R&D that aims to establish a core technology. Covers the practicality verification phase for technology seeds from academic research Support for practical application development relating to technology seeds from academic research. Covers R&D-focused small start-up ventures Support for practical application development for novel drugs, etc., based on seeds from academic research Support for largescale practical application development of seeds from academic research. Covers projects that carry significant development risk
Applicant requirements A young researcher on a limited-period contract, etc., and a venture start-up support organization, such as a university Three parties: Academic researcher, entrepreneur and indirect support institution Company and academic researcher Company and academic researcher Company (paid-in capital of ¥1,000 million or less) and academic researcher Company (paid-in capital of ¥30,000 million or less) and academic researcher Company and academic researcher
R&D period (in principle) Up to three years Up to three years Up to two years Up to four years Up to five years Up to five years Up to seven years
Total R&D funding (including indirect expenses) (in principle) Up to ¥45 million. Separately, up to ¥3 million as venture start-up support expenses Up to ¥150 million. Separately, up to ¥15 million as indirect support expenses Up to ¥20 million Up to ¥200 million (matching fund) Up to ¥300 million Up to ¥1,000 million ¥100 million to ¥2,000 million
Contract fund Contract fund Development success: R&D funding repaid in equal installments over 10 years (Unsuccessful: repayment of 10%)
Payment of royalties based on product sales

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FY2009: Approved projects and technology fields

Number of projects approved by support type

  • FS stage:
    Seeds Validation:
    Start-up Validation:
196
171
25
  • Full-scale R&D stage:
    Start-up Venture:
    Promoting R&D:
    High-risk Challenge:
    Practical Application (Development by SME Start-up):  
    Practical Application (Drug Development):
    Practical Application (Contract Development):
86
8
20
43
13
1
1

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