Sasaki Tetsuya and Michael Hechtel

© DWIH Tokyo / Tetsuya Sasaki / Michael Hechtel

Our series “Connecting East and West – A Short Interview with …“ presents people involved in German-Japanese research collaborations – and their insights on how and where to cooperate successfully!
This week we welcome Sasaki Tetsuya, Senior Director of the Saitama City Foundation for Business Creation (SFBC), and Michael Hechtel, Research Assistant at the Institute for Factory Automation and Production Systems at the University of Erlangen-Nuernberg.

They are both representatives of the Mechatronic Joint Initiative (MEJOIN), a research network of the “Future of Work” campaign by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
MEJOIN aims to increase German-Japanese collaboration in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) by sharing knowledge and further connecting research and industry in order to realize the full potential of AI in all participating companies and organizations.

1. What kind of research makes you excited, and why?
Sasaki: Any research makes me excited because I have a lot of things I do not know yet!
Hechtel: I am interested in all topics related to artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. I think here you can map very many if not all use cases with sufficient resources.

2. What is your connection to Germany/Japan?
Sasaki: SFBC has been doing a lot of joint projects with Germany for more than 10 years. So we have a lot of business partners, for example, State of Bavaria Japan Office, IHK Nuremberg, Forum MedTech Pharma. Cluster Mechatronics & Automation, and FAPS etc…
Hechtel: Within the framework of the Mechatronic Joint Initiative research project, we support German and Japanese SMEs in their expansion and cooperation initiation with foreign partners.

3. Where should Japan and Germany cooperate more?
Sasaki: I think that AI is one of most important fields where we should cooperate. Already we have some joint projects in AI.
Hechtel: Germany and Japan share similar societal challenges, such as an aging population, but also strengths in the areas of robotics and digitization. There is a lot of potential here that we should leverage together.

4. What is your winning formula for research cooperation?
Sasaki: Never give up!
Hechtel: The key to successful cooperation is an exciting topic that excites the participants. As long as everyone is committed and wants to take research to a new level, the collaboration is predestined for success.

5. What advice do you have for German/Japanese researchers looking for joint projects?
Sasaki: Sometimes you may feel that Japanese companies move very slowly. So we may need the log-term perspective to realize the joint project.
Hechtel: Japanese partners should be clear about the content of the desired project. This will enable them to target partners in Germany and create promising approaches for cooperation.

Michael Hechtel:

• Research Assistant at Institute for Factory Automation and Production Systems, University of Erlangen-Nuernberg, Germany
• Project Manager Mechatronic Joint Initiative (Funded by the BMBF)
• M. Sc. Industrial Engineering – Information and Communication Technologies at University of Erlangen-Nuernberg
• Training programme in Southern England. International exchange as a part of the MEJOIN initiative, for example in San Francisco;

Sasaki Tetsuya:

• Senior Director of the Saitama City Foundation for Business Creation
• B.A. Political Science, Keio University, Japan

To read other articles related to the DWIH Tokyo Interview, click here.