Feasibility and Limitation of Two Innovation Projects for Next Generation Mobility Based on Academic and Industry Cooperation in Tohoku (Northeast) Region, Japan

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Detroit (2020)


Feasibility and Limitation of Two Innovation Projects for Next Generation Mobility Based on Academic and Industry Cooperation in Tohoku (Northeast) Region, Japan

Murayama, Takatoshi
Orihashi, Shinya
Tohoku Gakuin University

The purpose of this research is to describe the process and outcome of two innovation projects launched in Tohoku Region and assess the potentiality and limitation of the projects.
For the sake of recovery from the damage of 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami disaster occurred in Tohoku region, the two innovation projects for next generation vehicle aided by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport, Science and Technology (hereinafter MEXT) had been proceeded by Tohoku University of Miyagi prefecture (hereinafter Miyagi project) and Iwate Industrial Promotion Center of Iwate prefecture (hereinafter Iwate project) from 2012 to 2017.
The Miyagi project led by Tohoku University attempted to solve the problems entailed in the present mobility system and society by utilizing the advanced technologies developed and owned by the university. The university planned to operate a new transportation system for its campus based on the autonomous drive technology and the small-sized electric mobility. In addition, by utilizing drive simulator and big data analysis, the university tried creating an effective evacuation system for residents in the pacific-ocean areas of Miyagi prefecture that could mitigate traffic congestion occurred in the previous earthquake and Tsunami. In fact, many people evacuated by car, stuck in the congestion, and eventually swept away by Tsunami in the Great Earthquake. This project also intended to build the local networks between the university and local companies, and so several local companies were given the opportunities to participate in manufacturing and testing the prototype of new products, such as a non-contact power supply system and manganese rechargeable batteries, developed by the university.
The theme of the Iwate project coordinated by a prefecture government related organization, named Iwate Industrial Promotion Center, was “Developing Human and Environment-Friendly Next Generation Mobility.” The Iwate project targeted to reinforce the production technology of resin and metal processing. Especially, Iwate University has been evaluated as a research institution to own unique technology and knowledge of die-mold and casting engineering ever since. For instance, Iwate university cooperated with a component manufacturer situated in Iwate prefecture to develop non-burr resin molding die to improve the productivity and quality of components. Also, Iwate Prefectural University had strengths in the ICT research field. Iwate Prefectural University cooperated with a vendor and a telecommunication carrier and planned to develop the plug and play method based on radio on demand that efficiently provide the information of natural disaster, road condition and tourism of the area to drivers. Iwate Industrial Promotion Center presented the showcase (skeleton) car that loaded 87 components or devices with that local companies or organizations manufacture situated in Iwate prefecture dealt. The showcase car intended to accelerate the cooperation among local entities to develop new units or components through the visualization of relation and proximity of each component and device manufactured in Iwate prefecture.
The two projects attempted to plan and develop the new mobility system, technologies and products using technological and human resources endowed and created in the universities. Nevertheless, both projects were eventually assessed as B rank by MEXT and terminated in 2017. MEXT negatively commented on the Miyagi project as follows; while researchers in Tohoku University published many academic papers, most of them were not strictly related with next generation mobility. The Iwate project were also negatively evaluated as follows: although some technologies and systems were invented, those were not considered as the next generation technologies. This paper reviews the activities and performances of two innovation projects and investigates their effectiveness and limitation.

Orihashi, S., Mokudai, T. and Murayama, T. (ed.) (2013), Automobile Industry in Tohoku Region: Around the Third Manufacturing Base of Toyota, Shoseisha: Tokyo.
Next Generation Mobility Project of Miyagi and Iwate (2017), A Report on Next Generation Mobility: Message form Tohoku Region that Experienced the Great Earthquake, Tohoku University and Iwate Industry Promotion Center.

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