Japan's public R&D funding system as well as those of other nations has undergone great changes recently. A common theme for all nations amid the huge societal changes being caused by globalization is to redesign their R&D funding systems from the viewpoints of both international competition and international collaboration. At the same time, each nation has been introducing reforms to focus on innovation and strengthen accountability. In Japan, stagnant total public R&D investment, decreasing regular funding, increasing competitive funding, etc. are influencing the management and research activities at universities and public research institutes in various ways. Public R&D funding is now drawing much attention and, particularly since the last year, important policy documents and proposals on this theme have been drafted by various stakeholders.
Meanwhile, there is now strong expectation in Japan that science and technology should contribute to the solution of many societal problems which the nation faces, including prolonged economic stagnation, declining international competitiveness, aging population, environmental and energy concerns, and recovery from the catastrophic disaster in March 2011. The 4th Science and Technology Basic Plan, established in August 2011, made clear that the solution of societal problems was one of the basic directions of Japan's science, technology, and innovation policy.
This strategic proposal presents concrete measures necessary for reform effort to construct R&D funding system that corresponds to the new goal of accelerating issue-oriented innovations. The fundamental concept here is to shift the basic direction of R&D funding from the formation of competitive environment to the networking and optimum organizing of research and innovation capabilities, thereby tapping the nation-wide potential and ensuring that researchers and specialists in a broad range of fields can exercise their capabilities to the full extent. The proposal consists of the following items.
(1) Designing efficient R&D funding based on nation-wide perspectives
(1)-1 Roles and responsibilities of funding agencies
(1)-2 Roles and responsibilities of PD/PO
(1)-3 Effective use of equipment
(2) Drastic strengthening of R&D organization
(2)-1 Social responsibility of researchers
(2)-2 Stabilizing the R&D organization
(2)-3 Ensuring human resources
(3) Establishing the R&D evaluation system to promote issue-oriented innovations
(3)-1 Introducing the scheme of step-by-step review
(3)-2 Improving the effectiveness and reliability of R&D evaluation
The role that R&D funding plays in the implementation of national science, technology, and innovation policy is extremely important. Funding agencies, which are the main implementing bodies of the proposed items shown above, should reinforce mutual collaboration, ensure close cooperation with the government and the scientific community, win the involvement of the private sector and other stakeholders, and vigorously push forward their efforts to realize the reform.