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Science and Technology Relations

Europe as a Research and Innovation Powerhouse

Europe has a long tradition and history of excellence in research and innovation. 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 our work with Japan, and will introduce you to Horizon 2020, the EU's main funding programme.

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

Furthermore, latest news and information on science and technology related events can be found here or here, as well as on our science and technology section twitter page.


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 close to EUR 80 billion that will be allocated through a competitive call process to research institutions, universities, innovative companies, and small businesses. This will support scientific excellence, boost industrial leadership and competitiveness, and tackle societal challenges. Importantly, researchers in 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 grand challenges.

Under the Energy Union, a flagship initiative of the EU's Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, more than 30 action points aim to further bolster the EU's world-class science performance, remove obstacles to innovation, and revolutionise the way public and private sectors work together, notably through innovation partnerships between the EU institutions, national and regional authorities and businesses.


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. The Third such meeting took place in Brussels in May, 2015. At this meeting agreement was made on a "Joint Vision" towards a closer relationship in research and innovation.

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 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

Cooperation with Japan is a strategic priority for the EU. We share many of the same research priorities and societal challenges, and Japanese participation in Horizon 2020 projects is most welcome.

We work together in a variety of ways:

  • Through the regular Horizon 2020 calls for cooperative research proposals, where Japanese participants 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 covers two areas under Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2016-2017, namely NMBP-02-2016: 'Advanced Materials for Power Electronics based on wide bandgap semiconductor devices technology'; and NMBP-03-2016: 'Innovative and sustainable materials solutions for the substitution of critical raw materials in the electronic power system'. For further information, please consult the following JST web page.
  • Through "coordinated" or "joint" calls for proposals issued by the EU and counterpart ministries and agencies in Japan. Here, each side makes available an equivalent amount of funding to support their researchers in joint projects in areas of common interest. In recent years such calls have been issued in photovoltaics, superconductivity, aeronautics, critical raw materials, and Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
  • Individual researchers can take part in mobility programmes under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie scheme (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: https://erc.europa.eu/sites/default/files/press_release/files/erc_pr_2015_Japan_agreement.pdf and JSPS Homepage http://www.jsps.go.jp/j-pd/pd_user-haken.html.
    For updated information about topics of particular interest for cooperation with Japan, including joint or coordinated calls, and about available funding schemes in Japan that could provide support to Japanese participation in Horizon 2020, please see: http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/other/hi/h2020_localsupp_japan_en.pdf
  • We work together in multilateral schemes. 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. Partners include 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. 
    Anther multilateral cooperative scheme is the "Human Frontier Science Programme".
  • Nuclear energy cooperation is carried out under Euratom
  • We are also 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 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 in Kyoto in early October every year.
  • We are engaging with the public to give further visibility to EU-Japan cooperation in research and innovation.  For the first time, in November 2015, the EU Delegation coordinated European participation in one of Japan's most well-known science outreach forums, the Science Agora [http://www.jst.go.jp/csc/scienceagora/en/].  The EU Delegation was awarded a prize for its efforts receiving the JASSO Award for showcasing international collaboration.

6th EU-Japan Science Policy Forum, Kyoto, 3 October 2015

The 6th EU-Japan Science Policy Forum, Kyoto, 3 October 2015.

Europe Light House - Science Agora, Miraikan, 14-15 November 2015 (Yasuhiko Shimazu, Tom Kuczynski)

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


Future potential

The EU and Japan have a successful track record of collaboration, but a lot more can be done to further build and strengthen our research relations. In the 7th Framework Programme (FP7), there were over 100 Japanese participations in cooperative research projects, in a broad range of areas, as it can be seen in a figure below.

Japanese researchers have also participated in mobility programmes funded under the Marie-Curie actions of FP7 as well in ERC grants. This trend continues under Horizon 2020.

Japanese researchers have also participated in mobility programmes funded under the Marie-Curie actions of FP7 as well in ERC grants. This trend continues under Horizon 2020.

The 3rd EU-Japan Joint S&T Committee meeting in May 2015 agreed on the following priorities for future strategic cooperation: (1) areas where cooperation already is substantial, namely ICT, Aeronautics and Materials (including Critical Raw Materials - CRMs); and (2) areas where cooperation can be strengthened, namely Energy (non-nuclear), Health, Environment and High-Energy Physics. Beside these, cooperation is already substantial in Nuclear research, and there is the potential to increase cooperation in other areas such as Space, Security, and Research Infrastructures.

There are 23 topics that explicitly invite cooperation with Japanese researchers under the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2016-2017.

Learn more about work we have done together: examples of EU-Japan joint research projects (PDF).



Updated 2016.10.27