Driving World-Class Innovation in Japan


Japan and the U.S. have had a strong, mutually beneficial economic relationship for more than 150 years. Japan has long been recognized for its innovations in technology and business management, but today the country is struggling to regain economic leadership in today’s competitive global environment.

As is true for the U.S., Japan, and the rest of the world, competitive challenges will continue to grow. The combination of rapid, exponential technology improvements and intense global competition guarantees that companies will not succeed using yesterday’s industrial economy practices. We are now in the Innovation Economy, which demands we use new, more efficient practices to remain competitive.

To help meet its competitive challenges, Japanese government organizations often partner with SRI for our R&D and economic development expertise. For example, the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) and SRI just announced a collaborative program to grow Japan’s entrepreneurial community and invigorate its new venture landscape.

NEDO’s focus on enhancing Japan’s economic competitiveness through hands-on support to industry aligns closely with SRI’s approach to value creation, which starts by addressing important market needs.

Essential for Success: A Disciplined Approach to Innovation

Innovation best practices are essential for companies to bring greater value to their customers in today’s economy. They apply whether the objective is long-term research, incremental product improvements, or large new initiatives. Individuals, teams, and enterprises must use best practices to identify the major challenges before them and then develop needed solutions quickly—or they will not keep up with others who do.

For many years, SRI’s Innovation Programs team has shared our organization’s best practices with Japanese universities, government organizations, and industry. SRI’s processes for driving and managing innovation help organizations around the world get innovative products and solutions to market faster, more efficiently, and more predictably.

50 Years of Technology for Industry

Since 1963, major Japanese companies such as Hitachi, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mitsui, Nippon Steel, Osaka Gas, The Takeda Foundation, and Toshiba have turned to SRI for outstanding technology progress. Client engagements include:

  • Benesse Corporation, which creates software to help Japanese children learn English, licenses SRI’s EduSpeak® speech recognition toolkit.
  • HYPER DRIVE Corporation, Ltd., for which SRI deployed a prototype buoy-mounted, ocean wave-powered generator off the coast of Florida in the Tampa Bay as part of an alternative energy program.
  • Elionix, Inc., which provided scanning electron microscopes to further develop SRI’s FRASTA technology for diagnosing and predicting fatigue failure in bridges and other structures.
  • Pharmaceutical company Eisai, which licensed rights to Targretin, an FDA-approved treatment for T-cell lymphoma for which SRI collaborated on work that resulted in patent filings.

SRI’s relationships with major Japanese companies in the 1960s led to the creation of the Pacific Basin Economic Council (PBEC), the “independent voice of business in the Pacific.” PBEC now represents 20 countries and provides counsel to governments on major issues affecting the region’s development.

SRI also collaborated in the design of the Nomura Research Institute in 1965. Today, it is Japan’s largest IT consulting services firm.

We are looking forward to our next 50 years in Japan, helping to grow its entrepreneurial community and invigorate new technology development.

Read more from SRI