Delegation of the European Union to Kazakhstan

EU-Japan Science and Technology Relations

10/09/2018 - 13:00

Europe has a long tradition and history of excellence in research and innovation.

Europe as a Research and Innovation Powerhouse

Europe has a long tradition and history of excellence in research and innovation (R&I). With only around 7% of the world's population, Europe accounts for a quarter of global expenditure on research, and produces a third of all high impact publications and patent applications. Research and innovation are supported both at national level, by each of the EU's 28 Member States, and at the EU level.

This section will provide you with some basic information on the European Union's research and innovation policies, on cooperation with Japan, and will introduce you to Horizon 2020, the EU's main research and innovation funding programme.

You will also find information on how you may participate in Horizon 2020 from Japan.


How the EU promotes research and innovation

The EU has supported research and innovation since 1984 through a series of Framework Programmes. The latest one, Horizon 2020, covers the period 2014-2020, and is the largest ever with a budget close to EUR 80 billion, to be allocated through a competitive call process to research institutions, universities, and innovative companies, big and small. It will support scientific excellence, boost industrial competitiveness, and tackle societal challenges. Importantly, researchers from any part of the world may participate.

The EU also promotes research and innovation in other ways. It has spearheaded the creation of the European Research Area (ERA), as a unified research area open to the world in which researchers, scientific knowledge and technology circulate freely. It aims to help the EU and its Member States strengthen their scientific and technological bases, their competitiveness and their capacity to collectively address shared societal challenges.

Another initiative is the Europe 2020 Strategy which aims to create an innovation friendly environment for great ideas to be turned into products and services that will bring to EU economy growth and jobs

The realisation of the ten priorities announced in 2015 at the start of his term by European Commissioner President Jean-Claude Juncker rely on, and promote, far reaching innovation in all sectors of the economy. This is particular true of the Digital Single Market and Energy Union initiatives.


EU-Japan Cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation

The relationship between the EU and Japan is increasingly close and diversified. Various cooperation agreements have been concluded since 1988, at both bilateral and multilateral levels. An overarching Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement was signed in 2009 and came into force on 20 March 2011.

This agreement pledged to encourage, develop and facilitate cooperative activities. To that end, it also established a Joint Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation, to exchange information and views on Science and Technology policy issues, identify priority areas for cooperation and promote reciprocal access to research and innovation programmes. This committee meets at least once every two years. It first met in Tokyo in June 2011, with the second meeting taking place in June, 2013, also in Tokyo. The third such meeting took place in Brussels in May, 2015. At that meeting, agreement was reached on a "Joint Vision" towards a closer relationship in research and innovation. The most recent Joint Committee Meeting took place in Tokyo in November, 2017.

The European Commission every two years prepares an updated Roadmap for EU-Japan S&T Cooperation. The latest version, published in October 2017 can be found here.

The importance of close and friendly relations in science, technology and innovation has been recognised by the leaders of Japan and the EU, who have expressed commitment to unlocking the full potential of such cooperation (21st EU-Japan Summit Joint Statement, Article 17). Later statements reiterated this commitment 22nd EU-Japan Summit Joint Statement, Article 14 and 23rd EU-Japan Summit Joint Statement, Article 22. On 29 May 2015, during the 23rd EU-Japan Summit, the leaders endorsed a New strategic partnership in Research and Innovation between the European Commission and the Government of Japan.


How we can work together

Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) cooperation with Japan is of strategic importance for the EU. The two sides share many of the same research priorities and societal challenges, and Japanese participation in Horizon 2020 is most welcome. This can take place in a variety of ways:

  • Through the regular Horizon 2020 calls for collaborative research proposals, where Japanese organisations can join projects in almost any area. Normally there is no EU funding for researchers in advanced countries like Japan, except where a specific reciprocal arrangement has been put in place, where it is specified in the Work Programme, or under exceptional circumstances. Financial support for Japanese researchers is now possible under a new Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) co-funding scheme that started in October 2015. It initially covered two areas under Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2016-2017, namely 'Advanced Materials for Power Electronics based on wide bandgap semiconductor devices technology'; and 'Innovative and sustainable materials solutions for the substitution of critical raw materials in the electronic power system'. In Work Programme 2018-2020 it covers the calls on the topic of ''Technologies for first responders'' in the area of Disaster Resilience, which will open in the years 2018-2019-2020. For further information, please consult the following JST web page.
  • Through "coordinated" or "joint" calls for proposals issued simultaneously by Horizon 2020 and counterpart ministries and agencies in Japan. Here, each side makes available an equivalent amount of funding to support their respective researchers in joint projects in areas of common interest. In recent years, such calls have been issued in areas such as photovoltaics, superconductivity, aeronautics, critical raw materials, and Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
  • Researchers and research-related staff can take part in mobility programmes under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA). Japanese researchers may also apply for the European Research Council (ERC) grants, which are for starting or advanced researchers with breakthrough ideas. In May 2015, an Implementing Arrangement between the European Commission and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) was signed, which enables young JSPS fellows to join European Research Council Principal Investigators for periods of up to one year. For more information, please see the ERC press release and JSPS Homepage. In October 2018 a similar arrangement was signed with the Japan Science and Technology Agency. For more information, please see the ERC press release:
  • Nuclear research cooperation is carried out under the Euratom research programme.
  • The EU and Japan working together on the joint implementation of the "Broader Approach" in fusion energy research. Three projects are underway, aiming to prepare the ground towards the realisation of an actual demonstration fusion energy reactor, following ITER.
  • EU and Japanese policy makers, researchers and industrialists meet regularly to exchange views in policy matters, including at the EU-Japan Science Policy Forum, which takes place in the margins of the Science & Technology in Society forum (STS forum) in Kyoto in early October every year. The 9th EU-Japan Science Policy Forum took place on 06 October 2018.
  • The two sides consider it essential to engage with the public in order to give further visibility to EU-Japan cooperation in research and innovation.  Since 2015, the EU Delegation has coordinated European participation in one of Japan's most well-known science outreach forums, the Science Agora.  An article on the European participation in Science Agora 2017 can be found here.
  • The EU and Japan cooperate in the context of multilateral schemes as well. One such example is the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). This is a large-scale scientific experiment to demonstrate the technological and scientific feasibility of fusion energy using a 'Tokamak' machine. ITER's members are China, the EU, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the USA. The construction of the reactor in Cadarache, France, began in 2010 and ITER will test key technologies necessary for the next step: the demonstration of a fusion power plant that will prove that it is possible to capture fusion energy for commercial use. 
    Another multilateral cooperative scheme is the "Human Frontier Science Programme".


The 9th EU-Japan Science Policy Forum, Kyoto, 06 October 2018.



European participation at the Science Agora 2015, (YouTube video clip can be found here)


European participation at the Science Agora 2016


European participation in Science Agora 2017

EU BOOTH in Science Agora 2018


10th Anniversary of the European Research Council ''Beyond the first 10 years'', EU Delegation to Japan, 29 March 2017 (The address by Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon and video messages from Japanese ERC grantees can be found here.)


Japanese participation in the European Research and Innovation Framework Programme

The EU and Japan have a successful track record in research collaboration, but there is scope for significant improvement. In the context of the 7th Framework Programme (FP7), Japanese entities have participated 177 times in 151 grants of collaborative research, ERC grants and Marie Curie Actions. There were 117 Japanese participations in collaborative research projects, in a broad range of areas, as it can be seen in a figure below.

In the context of Horizon 2020, Japanese entities have participated 122 times in 98 signed grants of collaborative research, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions and ERC grants, as of 7 November 2018. Japanese participants are the most active in the areas of researchers' mobility (the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions - 89 participation), Environment research, Nanotechnologies and Advanced materials (NMBP), Nuclear research (through Euratom), and ICT, as it can be seen in a chart below.

The success rate for Japanese applicants to Horizon 2020 is higher than the average, at impressive 20%, compared to overall average of 14.7%.

Japanese Academia, Research Institutions and Industry have participated in Horizon 2020 in similar proportions.

In addition, as of 7 November 2018, 32 ERC grants had been awarded to researchers of Japanese nationality.

Since 2011 there have been 9 coordinated calls with Japan:
• In Aeronautics with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI);
• In ICT and Healthy ageing with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication (MIC);
• In New materials and critical raw materials with Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST);
• In New energy technologies with the New and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO).

More coordinated calls will be launched in the context of the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018-2020 (notably ICT).


Further collaboration possibilities under Horizon 2020

The 4th EU-Japan Joint S&T Committee meeting in November 2017 reviewed the research and innovation cooperation actions implemented in the areas of mutual interest since the 3rd Joint S&T Committee meeting in Brussels in 2015, in particular in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Transport research (notably in Aeronautics, but also cooperation possibilities in Automated Driving Technologies) and Advanced Materials research. Recent developments of collaborative activities in some important areas, such as Health/Medical research, were presented with ideas for future cooperation. Both sides welcomed the Research Framework Arrangement between the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) that will develop a mutually beneficial cooperation in the fields of Nanotechnology and Chemicals, Metrology and Measurement, and Energy among others. Both sides also exchanged views on potential areas for future cooperation, such as in Renewable Energy Research, Arctic Research, Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) (including Nature based solutions and Earthquake Early Warning System), and Quantum Technology. Both sides confirmed the importance of the Horizon 2020 National Contact Point in Japan and the outreach activities to promote public engagement.

There are 22 topics that explicitly invite cooperation with Japanese researchers under the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018-2020.

If you wish to find detailed information about support to research and innovation (R&I), past and ongoing R&I projects and their results, regulations, publications and statistics, potential research partners and opportunities for networking, as well as jobs in research, please refer here.

You can find here two brochures giving examples of EU-Japan collaborative research projects (PDF: Japanese language version, English language version). Additional information, videos and articles about EU-Japan collaborative research projects can be found here.

Information about EU-Japan Science Policy Cooperation can be found here.


Beyond Horizon 2020 – Horizon Europe (2021-2027)

On 7 June 2018, the European Commission published its proposal for "Horizon Europe", an ambitious EUR 100 billion research and innovation programme that will build on the achievements and success of Horizon 2020.

International collaboration will remain an integral part of the Horizon Europe, allowing EU and Japan to work even closer together  in STI. In tandem with the Economic Partnership Agreement, signed on 17 July 2018 in Tokyo it will help to bring the bilateral relationship between EU and Japan to a new level.

About two-thirds of Europe's economic growth over the last decades has been driven by innovation. Horizon Europe is expected to generate new and more knowledge and technologies, promote scientific excellence, and have positive effects on growth, trade and investment as well as significant social and environmental impact.

While continuing to drive scientific excellence through the European Research Council (ERC) and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowships and exchanges, Horizon Europe will introduce the following main new features:

- A European Innovation Council (EIC); The Commission's proposal will establish a one-stop shop to bring the most promising high potential and breakthrough technologies from lab to market application, and help the most innovative start-ups and companies scale up their ideas. It will complement the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).

- New EU-wide research and innovation missions focusing on societal challenges and industrial competitiveness; examples could range from the fight against cancer, to clean transport or plastic-free oceans.

- Maximising the innovation potential across the EU

- More openness: The principle of 'open science' will become a practice, requiring open access to publications and data. This will assist market uptake and increase the innovation potential of results generated by EU funding.

- A new generation of European Partnerships and increased collaboration with other EU programmes: Horizon Europe will promote effective and operational links with other future EU programmes, like Cohesion Policy, the European Defence Fund, the Digital Europe Programme and the Connecting Europe Facility, as well as with ITER.

A press release on the proposal of Horizon Europe can be found here.

A document including main features of Horizon Europe can be found below;

Examples of EU research and innovation success stories can be found below;

More information on “Horizon Europe” can be found here.



Space research is one of the areas that EU-Japan can strengthen cooperation.  Ambassador Flor with JP Astraunaut Onishi at launch of Ibuki-II satellite (29 Oct 2018, Tanegashima, Kagoshima Prefecture © The EU Delegation to Japan)  

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