Modern society faces an exploding number of issues expected to be solved by scientific and technological contribution. Global environment issues; sustainable development under resource, energy, environment restrictions; and the emergence of new industries from service oriented developments are just a few examples. Many of these issues are complex phenomena and are difficult to be solved within the support of a single scientific “discipline”. They need to be solved by integrating science and technology beyond their disciplines. The importance of “an intensive promotion of problem solving types of science and technology” for the 4th Science and Technology Basic Plan is being recognized.
Based on these backgrounds, this proposal suggests the specific promotional measures of emerging and interdisciplinary science and technology induced by societal issues.
Up till now, the following points regarding the development process of the emerging and interdisciplinary science and technology were indicated, from the newly developed interdisciplinary science and technology examples.
The process has the following two directions of “creating new wisdom and developing scientific and technical frontiers” and “creating social values and contributing specifically towards solving issues”.
The process integrates various approaches in chain reaction for creating wisdom and social values.
The following five developmental stages are recognized.
Step1 Sprouting new ideas and approaches from societal problems and establishing research development methods or methodology.
Step2 Establishing a foundation based on new research methods and methodologies.
Step3 Application to the various phenomena or cases of new techniques or methodologies.
Step4 Evolution of seeds, verification of technology, bridge to industrialization.
Step5 Verification of technology effects and safety, derivation of new basic research issues.
The process takes more than 15 to 20 years to develop.
The process of expanding participants from researchers, industry, academia, government and society.
Therefore, in order to promote the emerging and interdisciplinary science and technology, the following points need to be realized.
- Research and development should not be conducted to fit the system, but support should be adjusted accordingly to the progress of the research and development.
- The merge of the following two items, which are, the merge of disciplines, and the merge of knowledge and social value creations needs to be realized.
It is outlined more specifically in the following four proposals.
The Four Proposals toward the Promotion of Emerging and Interdisciplinary Science and Technology
Proposal 1: A seamless program for societal issues.
Proposal 2: Establishing a “strategic manager”, the driving force for emerging and interdisciplinary science and technology
Proposal 3: Forming a network of a wide variety of researchers in industry, academia, government and society, who specialize in emerging and interdisciplinary science and technology
Proposal 4: Forming an environment and organization where researchers, especially young researchers can challenge freely in emerging and interdisciplinary science and technology.
Up till now, the concern of the technological forecasts or road mappings were mainly (what) as in “What kind of research or technology should we invest in?” On the other hand, it is now (for what) as in “What is the purpose of considering the kind of societal issues we need to respond to and making them worthy?” Furthermore, in order to clarify the societal issues we should pursue, we need to urgently establish a platform for industry, academia, government and society, which would bind together the wisdom of society and expectation to science and technology.
It is also necessary to realize and combine the time axis with the contents of both the continuity of “societal issues” which indicate the total direction, and the flexibility of the “research areas” which are the promoting tools selected under them according to the development of the emerging and interdisciplinary science and technology.