Interview with Dr. Toshiyasu ICHIOKA
Dr. Toshiyasu ICHIOKA
EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation
Dr. Toshiyasu ICHIOKA is working for the EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation and is responsible for the promotion of EU-Japan cooperation in science, technology and innovation, especially managing the project Japan-EU Partnership in Innovation, Science and TEchnology (JEUPISTE), co-financed under FP7 (GA number 609585). Activities include contribution to the EU-Japan STI policy dialogues, organization of seminars and workshops, dissemination, liaising with various stakeholders including university researchers, innovation managers at private companies, governmental organizations, EC officers and European embassies. He is also the Japanese NCP coordinator for Horizon 2020.
Prior to joining the EU-Japan Centre, Toshiyasu had a career as project manager for FP6 at Universitat Pompeu Fabra (ES) and in scientific research in various research institutions: CERN (CH), Aarhus University (DK), Max-Planck-Institute for Nuclear Physics (DE), University of Latvia (LV), and RIKEN (JP). Toshiyasu holds a PhD and MSc in Multi-Disciplinary Sciences from University of Tokyo and a BSc in Physics from Kyoto University (JP).
INSME: Can you give us a wrong and a right definition of innovation?
Dr. ICHIOKA: It is not a trivial question, and I cannot really give a wrong definition in the way the question wants.
Innovation is a process of converting knowledge, processes, social systems etc. into commercial and/or social value. The factors that will lead to innovation are, newly discovered knowledge, invention, new way of applying existing technologies, new method of doing things, etc. Conversion of these into usable and beneficial forms, is innovation, in my words.
INSME: Do you think that nowadays economic players are conscious enough of the opportunity that the international dimension represents for being innovative and of the benefits they could get back? If they are not, which is the main obstacle?
Dr. ICHIOKA: Conceptually, yes. However, the problem is that they are often hindered from taking the opportunities, because of various constraints, structural, organizational, cultural, etc. In the era of open innovation, identification of seeds and discovery of new value needs to be done quickly, which is not always easy.
INSME: How worldwide networks like INSME can help public bodies, stakeholders and intermediaries to foster innovation in favour of SMEs?
Dr. ICHIOKA: In my opinion, innovation, especially disruptive innovation likely comes from two sources. One is basic/frontier science, where discoveries and inventions take place. Another is from SMEs. Industry is seeking business opportunities, e.g. seeking something they can commercialize. The seed of a disruptive innovation, mostly seems absurd or unrealistic (and that is why the value created from such a seed can cause a paradigm shift). Large companies tend to be bound to their successful business models or common senses, which SMEs may well pick up an eccentric idea and try it out. Now let us think how to promote such innovation, especially from a public organization point of view. As they are not-for-profit, direct investment would not be a choice. Rather, the cultivation of soil for innovation, or nurturing an innovation ecosystem would be the way. Once again, in the era of open innovation, where interactions are inevitable and key to success, publicly recognized network like INSME can play a neutral and pivotal role by connecting stakeholders from across fields and organizations.
INSME: Which is, according to your experience the most effective way to help SMEs and entrepreneurs to be innovative?
Dr. ICHIOKA: Well, I am not an incubator and I have never really helped SMEs specifically, but I saw many SMEs suffer from a network and the lack of critical mass. Networking opportunities while keeping their swiftness and flexibility would be crucial in supporting SMEs to be innovative.
INSME: Let’s play a game:
INSME: If I say Cooperation you say…
Dr. ICHIOKA: Mutual confidence
INSME: If I say Network you say...
Dr. ICHIOKA: Connection.
INSME: If I say Internationalization you say…
Dr. ICHIOKA: New dimensions.
INSME: If I say Intercultural Communication you say...
Dr. ICHIOKA: Eye-opening experiences.
INSME: If I say Innovation you say…
Dr. ICHIOKA: Identification of quality, challenge and persistance.
INSME: If I say change you say…
Dr. ICHIOKA: Courage
INSME: YOUR INNOVATION MOTTO…
Dr. ICHIOKA: Stay curious, and respect people around you. Seeds exist everywhere, and everyone has a place they fit. Believe in yourself and do the right thing at the right timing