Background to the establishment of ImPACT

Following the collapse of the bubble economy of the 1980s, Japan endured two decades of prolonged economic stagnation, also known as the Lost 20 Years. During this period, Japanese companies were unable to alter their conventional manufacturing strategies amidst great changes in the industrial structure and lifestyles, and this has resulted in an ongoing decline in the competitiveness of Japanese industry. At the same time, corporate leaders and the Japanese citizens themselves lost confidence, and it is said that Japan cannot any longer bear the risks required for growth.

In order to dispel these problems, it is essential that we build a new science and technology system in which universities and corporations can boldly tackle challenging research issues and open new areas of growth (innovation).
ImPACT is a program through which the Council for Science, Technology and Innovation . the body that serves as the government's command center for innovation policy . will encourage high-risk, high-impact R&D, and aim to realize a sustainable and expandable innovation system.

Program Managers the leading players in ImPACT

Under the conventional R&D regime in which each institution uses the resources at its disposal, high-risk and high-impact initiatives are difficult. In order to encourage challenging R&D it is essential that we move away from our predisposition for insourcing, that we incorporate promising technologies from inside and outside the nation and achieve higher R&D targets, and that we link these to disruptive innovations. A successful transition to such R&D will require a scheme that fulfills the requirements below.

ImPACT has adopted Program Managers (PMs) who will be producers in a different way from the usual researchers in order to serve the roles mentioned above. Armed with bold authority and budgets, the PM will set high targets for bringing about major changes in society and industry, will select a cast of researchers that provides optimum R&D capability, and will lead high-risk, high-impact R&D aimed at achieving disruptive innovation.

What ImPACT aims for

The ultimate goal of ImPACT is to turn Japan into the country most favorable to innovation and a country brimming with the spirit of entrepreneurship and business start-ups. There are two targets that need to be met for the successful attainment of these goals.

Creating disruptive innovation

Under ImPACT, the Program Managers will raise attractive concepts, if successful, that will bring about changes in the society and industry of the future. To achieve those concepts they will integrate the very best of R&D capabilities, pursue high-risk, high-impact R&D, and take on the challenge of creating disruptive innovation while wholly directing the R&D programs and displaying flexible management.

Presenting an action model for innovation creation

To make Japan the country most favorable to innovation and a country brimming with the spirit of entrepreneurship and business start-ups, expanding the initiatives of ImPACT across the whole spectrum of the nation’s businesses will be absolutely essential. By presenting to the business world the activities of the PMs who take on these challenges as an action model for innovation creation, we will seek to overturn the tendency for Japanese R&D to be introspective and cultivate an entrepreneurial atmosphere here in Japan.

Promotion of R&D programs

ImPACT themes

  • Release from constraints on resources and innovation in “monozukuri (manufacturing)” capabilities “Japan-style value creation for the new century”.
  • Realization of an ecologically sound society and innovative energy conservation that changes lifestyles “Living in harmony with the world”.
  • Realization of a society of highly advanced functional that surpasses the information networked society “Smart community that links people with society”.
  • Provide the world's most comfortable living environment in a society with a declining birthrate and aging population “Realize healthy and comfortable lives for everybody”.
  • Control the impact and minimize the damage from hazards and natural disasters that are beyond human knowing “Realize a resilience that is keenly felt by every individual Japanese”.

The R&D programs instituted under ImPACT are promoted according to the steps indicated in the below.

Determination of
issue to be resolved
The Council for Science, Technology and Innovation (CSTI) will define the issues. Responding to themes that show a change in industry and society, the PM will determine the issue that they will try to resolve through his/her R&D programs, and clarify the targets for achieving the solution.
Concepts for
issue resolution
The PM will suggest ideas pertaining to creative R&D to reach the targets and concepts for technical approaches based on an understanding of the current state of and trends in society and industry while keeping in mind the future commercialization of their solution.
Configuration of
R&D programs
In order to realize the PM’s R&D concept, a team of top-level researchers will be assembled regardless of their fields or affiliate institutions and an optimal R&D program implementation system will be created that will also include PM-support mechanisms.
Management of
R&D programs
The PM will communicate with those involved and steer the R&D programs to drive toward target achievement. As part of the process, the PMs will exercise strong leadership to drive researchers to collaborate or compete and manage the programs while constantly adjusting their course where necessary to ensure the maximum results.
Development of
R&D results
To create innovation based on the obtained R&D results, every effort will be made by the PMs to, among other actions to protect the innovation, strategically manage the intellectual property and standardize the technologies.
The objective will be for social implementation of the research results and commercialization through venture businesses and corporations internal and external to the R&D programs.

About the Impulsing Paradigm Change through Disruptive Technologies Program (ImPACT)