Research

Tokyo Tech News

Sadayuki Ueha, director of The Solutions Research Laboratory:Innovative ideas today for Global / Frontier problems of the future

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September 30, 2010

The details of research

Tokyo Tech researchers are continuing to create a wealth of innovative ideas, inventions and technologies. Recent include ferrites for memories and communications, medical diagnostic protocols for point of care treatment, and high performance photovoltaic systems.

To-date much of this research has been conducted by researchers working independently, or in small groups. The question arises as to whether it would benefit the university to encourage the various groups to join forces as part of a larger research team to enhance the potential of their research.

“The Solutions Research Laboratory or SSRL is a unique research platform,” says Sadayuki Ueha, director of the laboratory. “The SSRL was set up to enable individual groups and researchers at Tokyo Tech to join hands to meet the challenges of research issues in the 21 century. We consider the SSRL to be a form of incubator.”

Simply put, ‘solution research’ means defining issues and problems that may arise in the near future, and establishing appropriate research groups to find solutions to these problems.

Tokyo Tech has vast experience of ‘solutions-based research’, an example being the highly successful research conducted by the Integrated Research Institute (IRI) between 2005–2009. “We were able to get government and industrial backing for the SSRL primarily because of the success of the projects conducted within the IRI,” says Ueha.

In addition to reorganizing projects initiated under the IRI, the SSRL—launched in April 2010—has launched three new projects: Nuclear Fuel Cycle, Bio-Mass Chemical Resources, and Neuro-Rehabilitation.

Notably, 2010 also saw the launch of the Solution Science Initiative (SSI), which has three core areas: (1) Creation and initiation of solution research projects (incubation); (2) Nurture manpower for managing solution-based research (education); (3) Creation and initiation of new areas of research (science).

The SSRL organization currently consists of SSI and of two research centers (Advanced Energy Systems for Sustainability (AES) and Advanced Research Center for Social Information Science and Technology); a group of five solution research projects; and a group dedicated to planning projects.

The aim of the Advanced Energy Systems for Sustainability project is to develop innovative energy systems in order to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions 50% and the design of the next-generation energy infrastructure for post 2015. This project is being conducted with leading blue-chip companies in Japan with expertise in the generation and distribution of electricity and other forms of energy. Each company is in effect a sponsor paying 30,000,000 Yen each for the duration of the project. The project members from the university also apply for grants from government sources.

The typical flow of a solution-project is as follows:

1.
Define a specific industrial or social problem to resolve
2.
Propose possible solutions
3.
Initiate feasibility studies to test the proposed solutions to the problems and issues
4.
If the feasibility study proves to be unsuccessful, then reevaluate the solutions, and conduct further studies.
5.
Continue this until the feasibility studies yield solutions and then actually use in society.
6.
This process leads to the realization of new social systems and technological innovation

“In the early days after Tokyo Tech was established as a university, there was a popular saying that translates into something like, ‘there is a Kuramae by every standing chimney’,” says Ueha.

Here Kuramae refers to the area in Tokyo where Tokyo Tech was located in the early years, and the chimney to that fact the Tokyo Tech started as a college training students to master the properties ceramics.

“In the future, I think that we could say that there is a Tokyo Tech graduate standing at every initiative on new social systems,” says Ueha.

Solutions Research Laboratory website: http://www.ssr.titech.ac.jp/outer

For further information about the Solutions Research Laboratory, contact:
Akira Kamoshida: kamoshida@ssr.titech.ac.jp
Kyoji Kunitomo : kunitomo@ssr.titech.ac.jp

  • Sadayuki Ueha, Director of SSRL

    Sadayuki Ueha, Director of SSRL

  • Kyoji Kunitomo (left) and Akira Kamoshida with Sadayuki Ueha (center)

    Kyoji Kunitomo (left) and Akira Kamoshida with Sadayuki Ueha (center)

Flow Chart of Solution Researchers

Solution Science Initiative

Reference
Sadayuki Ueha
Center for Public Information
Professor Emeritus

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