Possibilities of New Materials Innovation for Global Sustainability: The Case of Photocatalyst

Research Project , Research Report 2003

Yasunori BABA Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Tokyo
Masaru YARIME Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Tokyo


Results of scientific and technological research conducted at Japanese universities were not actively utilized for making contributions to society. On photocatalyst in the field of functional materials, however, university-industry collaboration has succeeded in producing new markets, and many projects are under way aiming to solve various environmental problems at the global level. In this research, we pay close attention to the activities of the Fujishima-Hashimoto laboratory, which has played a major role in the growth of this field, and attempt to elucidate how and why the university researchers’ collaboration with industry has made it possible to making significant contributions to society. When university-industry collaboration can successfully lead to commercialization, it is of critical importance that science and market are effectively coupled in such a way as to result in products with marketability. University researchers, relying on their solid understanding of science, actively seek to make proposals on how to usefully apply technologies, whereas companies attempt to transform scientific and technological possibilities into marketable products, with their knowledge of customer needs fully utilized. As academic researchers respond sensitively to user needs and firms conducting basic research publish scientific papers jointly, we could see a phenomenon of mutual permeation in R&D activities between university and industry. Both universities and companies need to satisfy considerable demands in order to succeed in making contributions to innovation in the field of functional materials. The results of our research would provide implications for university laboratory management, corporate strategy


photocatalyst, university-industry collaboration, university researcher, innovation model