German-Japanese Symposium “Regional Innovation and Cluster Collaborations”

© DWIH Tokyo

Clusters and similar regional networks are central components of innovation processes in Germany and Japan. They are distinguished by their proximity to educational and research institutes as well as companies and service providers.

This proximity can encourage significant, long-lasting improvement in the competitiveness of a region or business segment. International cooperation between leading regions is a major factor in expanding the potential for innovation.

On September 20th 2017 the German Research and Innovation Forum Tokyo (DWIH) held the German-Japanese Symposium “Regional Innovation and Cluster Collaborations” to further strengthen awareness of the opportunities and possibilities presented by international cooperation between the clusters. The event was supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and Projektträger Jülich (Project Management Jülich; PtJ).

Seven German-Japanese cluster co-operations presented the results of their joint work at the symposium. The presentations focused on topics such as best practise, the establishment of international cluster co-operations, technological development, building an innovation culture, and skills training. The presentations in photonic, organic electronics, power electronics, sport innovation and automation stressed the particular importance of Japan inside the cluster network. More than one hundred guests attended the symposium.

In her opening presentation, Dorothea Mahnke, director of the DWIH Tokyo, stressed that the process of innovation has to take place primarily on a local level through face-to-face interaction and pointed out the different possibilities for partnerships between both countries.

Kathrin Meyer, ministerial councillor and head of the Division New Innovation Support Instruments and Programmes of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), emphasised the need for international cooperation between the clusters. „Sustainable success requires the establishment of a worldwide network between the leading regions in the field of innovation through reliable cooperation and exchange to mutual benefit. Because clusters are not closed shops, but door openers to new countries and cultural spaces”.

The symposium ended with a reception in the German Embassy in Tokyo, where the participants had the chance to further continue their conversations in a relaxing atmosphere.

Following on from the symposium, a workshop on intellectual property (IP) and cluster cooperation was held on September 21 at the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan (AHK Japan). During the event Alfred Radauer, Senior Consultant at the Technopolis Group Austria and Dr Yves-Simon Gloy, Professor at the Institut für Textiltechnik of RWTH Aachen University, provided the participants from start-ups, large-scale enterprises and economic development agencies with different approaches and tools for the establishment of partnerships with German corporations and research institutes.