G-TeC (Global Technology Comparison) was done on the theme of “use-inspired researches”.
G-TeC has the mission to contribute for creating R&D Strategies and/or Science & Technology Policies, by gathering various evidences through surveys. In principle, for gathering evidences, we use three-stepped approaches consisting of basic surveys and site visits.
At the first step, through basic surveys, we investigate trends and movements of “policies & funding” and “institutes & human resources”, both at academia-sides and industry-sides.
At the second step, through site visits, we have meetings with top-class research institutes, funding agencies, and other related organizations in the world, and extract important issues for selected research themes.
Then, at the third step, we evaluate our findings gathered through basic surveys and site visits, and to identify priorities as evidences for creating R&D Strategies and/or Science & Technology Policies.
In this G-TeC, we set two objectives. First, we investigated trends & movements of use-inspired researches, globally. And second, based on these investigations, we considered effective methodologies to identify use-inspired researches for solving targeted social problems.
Main results are as follows.
1 )Use-inspired researches have been enhanced in various fields, especially for solving social problems in energy & environment.
2 ) U.S. and U.K. universities have created new research institutes for energy & environment, such as Energy Future Laboratory (established by Imperial College London in 2005), MIT Energy Initiative (established by Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2007), UCL Energy Institute (established by University College London in 2009), and Precourt Institute for Energy (established by Stanford University in 2009).
3 ) To utilize these institutes as “research umbrellas”, they have promoted use-inspired researches for energy & environment, through integration of different knowledge-bases, co-operation among multiple departments, and combination of natural sciences with socials sciences & humanities, all over their campuses.
4 ) Together with these research umbrellas, movements of “Energy Frontier Research Centers”are outstanding in U.S., on the viewpoint of use-inspired researches.
5 ) Energy Frontier Research Centers were created by U.S. Department of Energy as the new research initiative for energy, corresponding to science & technology policies under President Obama called “Green New Deal”.
6 ) In April of 2009, Department of Energy announced to establish 46 centers all over the U.S., trying to make big waves of use-inspired researches for energy, with the budget of approximately 777 million dollars covering 5 years.
7 ) These centers hold the research goal in common, that is “New Science for A Secure and Sustainable Energy Future”. Toward this goal, they are challenging to emerge new science areas, called “Control Science”.
8 ) Control Science is defined as the scientific basis to promote innovation of energy systems, for realizing“ A Secure and Sustainable Energy Future”.
9 ) That is because, various phenomena related to energy are showing rapid changes all the time, reflecting non-equilibrium status of atoms and/or electrons. Therefore, in order to achieve innovation of energy systems, new science should be requested for controlling material properties and their processes.
10) For controlling materials and processes, at first, observational science (the scientific basis to observe energy phenomena) should be advanced both at observational precision and probing speed, up to much higher than existent levels.
11) After that, advanced observational science should be integrated with interdisciplinary knowledge, that enable to design, to create and to control “material behaviors” and “chemical phenomena”. This is the strategy for emerging Control Science.
12) In the case of Energy Frontier Research Centers, U.S. Department of Energy had utilized“ workshops” to identify use-inspired researches.
13) They had held a series of workshops for the duration of 8 years, and had extracted “78 clusters of use-inspired researches” and “5 grand challenges toward new scientific principles”, for realizing“ A Secure and Sustainable Energy Future”.
14) To analyze these movements in details, “effective methodologies for identifying use-inspired researches” can be specified, about key factors and their characteristics.
15) Key factors and their characteristics are; Firstly, it is important to consider social problems from the viewpoint of systems. If we can define structures of systems where problems are generated, it should become good premises to identify use-inspired researches. In the case of Department of Energy, they had illustrated structures of future energy systems in U.S., based on their “a decades-to-century energy strategy”. At this step,“ policy sides (Department of Energy)” and“ top-class researches (such as committee members and workshop chairs)”had taken main roles.
16) Secondly, within defined systems, “research directions & areas for solving problems” are specified by comparison with their necessities. In the case of Department of Energy, over 100 members (mainly researchers) had been gathered to the workshop, 38 research directions and 10 research areas are extracted through discussions. At this step, “research communities (a variety of researchers representing different research fields)” had taken main roles.
17) Thirdly, based on directions & areas specified above, “research areas with higher priority” are decided. In the case of Department of Energy, 10 prior areas had been selected, such as “Hydrogen Economy”and “Solar Energy Utilization”.On this selection, “mission importance at policy sides” had been considered additionally, for their final judgments. At this step, again,“policy sides” and “top-class researches”had taken main roles.
18) And fourthly, at each prior area, “use-inspired researches” and “scientific principles” are identified, by comparison with their importance for solving targeted social problems. In the case of Department of Energy, over 1500 members (mainly researchers) had been invited to 10 workshops totally (a series of workshops for 10 prior areas). Through these workshops, “78 clusters of use-inspired researches” and “5 grand challenges toward new scientific principles” had been selected. At this step, “research communities” had taken main roles again, integrating various knowledge-bases in interdisciplinary and/or multidisciplinary ways.
19) Based on these steps, Department of Energy has established 46 Energy Frontier Research Centers. Now, these centers have been engaging use-inspired researches toward “A Secure and Sustainable Energy Future”. Besides, they also have been exploring new scientific principles in order to emerge Control Science.
20) To summarize main results of this survey, two essential points are extracted, necessary for identification of use-inspired researches.
21) First, it is important to consider social problems form the viewpoint of systems. If we can define structure of systems where problem are generated, it should become good premises to identify use-inspired researches.
22) Second, it is effective to utilize two types of judgments by different experts. One is “top-down judgments” by experts of “policy sides” and “top-class researches”. And another is “bottom-up judgments” by experts of “research communities”. Best mixes of “top-down” and “bottom-up” can promote to identify use-inspired researches.