ITEC research is conducted by four research units that operate in accordance with the institute’s research policy goals. Each unit includes ITEC fellows−who make up the core membership−as well as invited doctoral students and academics representing the humanities and sciences at the university and from other institutions.

Innovation Strategy Research Unit

Important aspects of technology−and innovation−management research in Japan are the evaluation of technologies from which might evolve new industries over the period of a decade or so, and the formulation of business strategies in the early stages of an industry’s development.

Technologies can be conceived in much the same way as mind mapping is conducted: by starting with an existing technology and extrapolating innovations from which it might benefit. Another method is for those with a scientific bent to configure an exemplar by deconstructing technological paradigms through careful thought. This is much like making an industrial forecast based on projected assumptions for which a strategy line is plotted from the future back to the present, the reverse of the mind-mapping method.

At present, this ITEC research unit is exploring innovation strategies in relation to a next-generation semiconductor technology−nanotechnology−that dramatically minimizes environmental load.

Research Unit on Innovative People and Organizations

Another ITEC research unit is studying which human-organizational interface might most effectively generate sustainable business innovation. Certainly many academics are involved in researching people and organizations, but what makes ITEC’s research stand out is its focus on sustainable innovation. Case studies are conducted of companies, including advanced technology companies in Kyoto that maintained high profit levels during the post-bubble recession, as well as Kyoto companies that have remained successful over centuries. Theories about, and the essentials of, sustainable innovation have been deduced on the basis of those case studies.

National Innovation Research Unit

Although business is fundamental to innovation, there can be no innovation without cooperation among businesses, universities and governmental research institutes. In addition, national policies as pertain to education and scientific technology have a major impact on national innovation. This research unit devises fundamental theories on national innovation systems that substantially affect the innovative activities of businesses, and studies how the systems can be most effective.

Innovation and Society Research Unit

During the 20th century, many of society’s material wants and needs were satisfied through a variety of innovative technologies. However, we now face many problems, resulting from the negative legacy of 20th-century technologies that threaten humanity and the global environment. At the same time, we have come to value improvements in quality of life over material wants and needs. As a reflection of the times, this unit studies ways of using new innovations to build a sustainable, environment-friendly economic system that can enhance the quality of people’s lives.

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