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10th Anniversary of the European Research Council ''Beyond the first 10 years''

EU News 67/2017

5 April, 2017

Over 100 guests from Japan and the EU, gathered at the EU Delegation to Japan in Tokyo on 29 March 2017, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the European Research Council (ERC).

In his welcome speech, Viorel Isticioaia-Budura, the Ambassador of the EU, emphasised the importance of supporting fundamental science and international research collaboration for the good of societies of Japan and the EU, as well as the world as a whole. He also referred to the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaties of Rome, which has also been celebrated in March 2017, and how these two anniversaries were excellent illustrations of why Europeans have decided to join their destinies on a whole range of common challenges, while continuing to strengthen global collaboration. In his congratulatory speech, Yoichi Ito, Director-General, Science and Technology Policy Bureau, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology acknowledged that Europe is an indispensable partner to Japan and that the ERC-JSPS Implementation Agreement, that allows JSPS fellows to visit ERC projects for a period of up to one year, opens up new opportunities for collaboration. Professor Jean Pierre Bourguignon, President of ERC, contemplated on ERC history, its achievements, its uniqueness, and on plans that lie ahead, including a stronger global collaboration. This was followed by a wide range of testimonies by current and past Japanese ERC grantees and JSPS fellows, that have recently visited Europe under the ERC-JSPS collaboration scheme.

An inspiring high level panel discussion on ''Nurturing scientific breakthroughs through the support of investigator-driven frontier research'' took place in the second part of the event. It was moderated by Yoichiro Matsumoto, Executive Director of RIKEN, an institution where global brain circulation is at the core of its strategy. Yuko Harayama, Executive Member, Council of Science, Technology and Innovation (CSTI), Cabinet Office of Japan acknowledged the important role of the ERC in the advancement of science for humanity.  A science, which should be characterised by political neutrality, diversity of views, international cooperation and openness. Yuichiro Anzai, President of JSPS reminded about the principles for funding scientific breakthroughs, such as diversity and flexibility, which were adopted at the 4th Annual Meeting of the Global Research Council in Tokyo in 2015. He emphasized that the main goal of the Kakenhi (research grants) reform which is to be implemented from FY 2017 was to promote international joint research and independence of Principal Investigators. The President of JSPS also introduced the ''Overseas Challenge Program for Young Researchers'', which will start in FY 2017 and will give doctoral students an opportunity to go abroad for limited periods of time. Finally, he expressed hopes that the number of JSPS fellows visiting ERC grantees would steadily increase in the years to come. Mary Collins, Dean of Research, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST), underlined the spirit of international research collaboration at OIST, where at least half the faculty, researchers and students come from abroad. Finally, Dai Aoki, Professor at the Institute for Materials Research, Tohoku University, explained how the ERC grant enabled him to expand his career, including setting up a research lab with a number of young Japanese post-docs after his return to Japan. During the discussion and the Q&A session that followed, the importance of independence, diversity, international collaboration and excellence were frequently mentioned.

During a toast speech, Motoko Kotani, Director of the Advanced Institute for Materials Research (AIMR) and member of CSTI, emphasised the importance of international cooperation in research and encouraged stronger collaboration between ERC and research organisations in Japan, which would be beneficial for career development of Japanese researchers and would improve the brain circulation globally.

The event was organised by the S&T Section of the Delegation of the European Union to Japan, with support from JSPS, EURAXESS and the National Contact Point for Horizon 2020 in Japan.

欧州研究会議10周年記念イベントの登壇者、パネリスト、主催者など(2017年3月29日、駐日EU代表部) Speakers, panellists and hosts of the 10th ERC Anniversary event, EU Delegation to Japan, 29 March 2017. URL