The Institute of Advanced Sciences, Yokohama National University
Building a circulation system for the creation of knowledge and contributing to society
In October of 2014, Yokohama National University (YNU) used its selection for a grant in the fields of safety engineering and risk―which are two of the strongest fields at YNU―in FY2013 by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology as part of its Program for Promoting the Reform of National Universities, as an opportunity to establish the Institute of Advanced Sciences (IAS). Based on the notion of “risk symbiosis,” the IAS has begun conducting research to develop the kinds of rational risk management needed in the 21st century and to help make society safe, vibrant, and sustainable.
In addition to its work as a center for research in risk symbiosis, the IAS plays a core role in pushing forward with reforms at the University by building a circulation system for the creation of knowledge and by accumulating and utilizing insights involving the optimization of management techniques that could help improve its research capabilities. (See Fig. 1)
YNU’s graduate research institutes, which are made up of the Faculty of International Social Sciences, Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Environment and Information Sciences, Faculty of Urban Innovation, and Graduate School of Education, have systems in place for providing flexible support that is capable of accelerating research activities. Specifically, in these graduate schools, research groups that are particularly active in research rooted in free thought are chosen as “YNU research centers” and provided with various forms of support for their research. Furthermore, from among these YNU research centers, those that have demonstrated excellent research abilities, skill at research management, and proven ability to get outside funding are selected for priority support based on the YNU president’s strategy.
Figure 1. Enhancing research capabilities and contributing to society by building a circulation system for the creation of knowledge
In addition to its increased efforts to give back to society through research activities that make full use of YNU’s particular strengths, the IAS has established research clusters in fields that also have the potential to enhance the presence of YNU. Research groups (or “research units”) that are particularly suited to each of the various research clusters are selected in a top-down fashion from the entire university―including the aforementioned YNU research centers, and the selected research units are assigned to the respective research clusters. The research clusters conduct research aimed at fulfilling the objective of the establishment of the IAS and clusters.
The IAS conducts research jointly and in cooperation with other institutions, in addition to inviting and maintaining close ties to prominent researchers in Japan and throughout the world. In conjunction with the Center for Creation of Symbiosis Society with Risk, the IAS is responsible for the platform for doing so. It disseminates research findings to other institutions in Japan and overseas, and shares these findings as well as information on other research gathered in the course of its own research with others in YNU. Moreover, IAS’s research activities help to train young researchers. It is with these elements that the circulation system for the creation of knowledge is built.
Activities as a research hub for “risk symbiosis” studies that contribute to sustainable development in the world
The Institute of Advanced Sciences (IAS) set the period from FY2014 to FY2017 as Phase I. For this first phase, it conducted research aimed at achieving robust social infrastructure systems, living environments that are easy to live in, and safe and secure information systems, which are elements essential for making society safe, sustainable, and vibrant. The institute focused on three research fields; safety innovation, creation and Innovation of smart cities, and life innovation. Eleven research units, which were led by faculty members with high research potential from YNU assigned as principle investigators (PI), were assigned to these fields. The results of Phase I research activities were published in July 2018 as a book titled Risuku kyōseigaku: Sentan kagaku gijutsu de tsukuru arata na shakai (“Risk Symbiosis: Life and a New Society Created with Advanced Science and Technologies,” in Japanese, Maruzen Publishing).
Research at the IAS aimed at bringing about a safe, sustainable, and vibrant society based on risk-symbiosis studies has entered Phase II as of FY2018. The research theme for Phase II is the innovation of social value based on risk-symbiosis studies.
With the aim of encouraging the development and implementation of advanced knowledge and technologies and the creation of new social value, Phase II research seeks to identify the mechanisms of transferring and sharing of technology both within organizations and across their boundaries, examining such factors as methods of co-creation and the dynamics involved. For the purposes of practical research into the dynamics of innovation that contribute to the creation and realization of social value, including cooperation strategies and management conducive to co-innovation, the IAS has already organized and is engaged in research at a “Social Innovation Research Cluster.” A “Co-innovation Dynamics Research Unit” and a “Chemistry of Hydrogen Energy Conversion Research Unit,” the latter of which is dedicated to the creation of new energy systems, are assigned to this research cluster. (See Table 1)
In addition, for research into information (data) security and social infrastructure safety, which are essential for making society safe, vibrant, and sustainable, we have organized a “Cyber Hardware Security Research Cluster” and an “Infrastructure Risk Research Cluster.” The former has four research units assigned to it: Information and Physical Security, Quantum Information Security, Extremely Energy-Efficient Processors and Integrated Photonics. The latter has research units assigned to it that are dedicated to studying Safety and Resilience of Infrastructure and Infrastructure Systems, and Safety Engineering and Risk Management of Energy Systems, respectively. (See Table 1)
Table1 Research Clusters and Research Units in the Institute of Advanced Sciences (IAS)