The Cabinet Office has announced that the total amount of the government's estimated budget request for science and technology for FY2023 will be 4,467.5 billion yen, an increase of 5.9% from the previous fiscal year. However, the actual budget request is expected to be several hundred billion yen higher than the previous year because the current estimated budget request includes many itemized requests without specifying the amount requested. Sanae Takaichi, the Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy, said that "We will work to achieve the government's research and development investment target of 30 trillion yen as set forth in the 6th Science, Technology and Innovation Basic Plan."
MEXT Requests 2.402 Trillion Yen
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology submitted a general FY2023 budget request of 5.8949 trillion yen (an increase of 623.0 billion yen from the previous fiscal year) to the Ministry of Finance. Of this, the science and technology budget increased by 342.1 billion yen to 2.402 trillion yen. The request also included items related to H3 (Japan's next flagship rocket), parts of the undersea earthquake and tsunami observation network, the economic security research and development promotion program, and soaring electricity bills.
New Establishment of the Regional Core University Support Project
From FY2024 JST's university fund will begin supporting international universities for excellence in research, and, in order to support other research universities, JST will establish a new project to promote the strengthening of regional core and distinctive research universities as well as providing new support through the World Premiere International Research Center Initiative (WPI) and for the formation of places for co-creation.
The project to promote the strengthening of regional core and distinctive research universities is targeted at universities other than those that apply for JST's university fund, and, based on the premise of constructing a management strategy centered around strengths and distinctive research capabilities, it will support the development of an environment that enables universities to accelerate and raise the level of the international development and social implementation of their research activities. The project will provide support of approximately 500 million yen per year for up to 10 years, and funds for seven locations were requested. In addition, 2.0 billion yen was allocated to support facility development, and other related needs. In total, 5.638 billion yen was requested.
As for The World Premier International Research Center Initiative (WPI), WPI 2.0 and WPI Core will be newly established. WPI Core is for universities other than those that apply for JST's university fund, and, in the first stage, accredits them with requirements that are about 70% of WPI's requirements, which are then stepped up to the full WPI requirements within five years. Funds for three new locations were requested. Additionally, WPI 2.0 will create new academic fields led by Japan through strong organizational collaboration among multiple institutions while maintaining an under-one-roof policy. By allowing universities that are eligible for JST's university fund to participate, it will raise the level of research at regional and distinctive research universities. A total of 9.2 billion yen, an increase of 3.1 billion yen, was requested, which includes funds for the current WPI and funds for a certain amount of support after a university graduates from WPI.
In terms of support for the formation of places for co-creation (COI-NEXT), in addition to dramatically expanding industry-academia-government co-creation places for universities other than those that apply for JST's university fund, additional support will be provided for pioneering efforts to accelerate the deployment of results and to build a system for creating university-launched startups. 16.3 billion yen was requested, an increase of 2.5 billion yen.
Request for a 13.5 Billion Yen Increase to Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research, to 151.1 Billion Yen
For competitive funding, the government requested 151.1 billion yen in grants-in-aid for scientific research, an increase of 13.5 billion yen. 11.0 billion yen was requested to support high-level international joint research among top-level researchers and to make a year-round program promoting international leading research, which promotes the development of young researchers. The annual amount for Grant-in-Aid for JSPS Research Fellows was increased from 2.4 million yen to 2.76 million yen. Additionally, an SDC (provisional name) will be established for the top 10% of Research Fellows, and the incentive amount will be increased to 3.61 million yen.
JST Strategic Basic Research Programs (CREST, PRESTO, ACT-X, and ERATO) were increased by 2.7 billion yen to 45.5 billion yen. In addition to promoting focused support for young researchers and continuous support for talented researchers (mid-career and senior), a system will be established to extend the support system that connects top scientific results to top innovation. JST will also aim to increase the number of research areas, the adoption rate, and the number of applications.
Although the supplementary budget for Fusion Oriented REsearch for disruptive Science and Technology (FOREST) will end in its third term, it was regarded quite highly so 16.8 billion yen was requested in order to take up about 200 projects in its fourth term for FY2023.
3.5 billion yen was requested in order for Japanese researchers to participate in top international circles of the research community for fields that are important for Japan (AI, quantum, materials, etc.), and for the establishment of a project to promote joint international research.
The project will be similar to the grants-in-aid for scientific research in international leading research and will be implemented from the bottom up, while the fields and partner countries will be designated from the top down, and will be supported with up to 100 million yen per year for more than five years. JST President Hashimoto is also working on a pilot version using the President's discretionary funds and will begin accepting applications this fall.
The Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, are also making requests for programs for the development of important technologies for economic security.
12.0 Billion Yen to Accelerate Regenerative Medicine
In addition, new projects in various fields were also included in the budget request. As a follow-up measure for the 9.0 billion yen Research Center Network for Realization of Regenerative Medicine, which will end this year, 12.0 billion yen was included for the Regenerative, Cellular, and Gene Therapy Realization Acceleration Program, which will promote interdisciplinary research and cross-disciplinary collaboration in regenerative medicine, cell therapy, and gene therapy, collaboration with core bases as a hub, and clarify disease conditions and drug discovery research by using disease-specific iPS cells.
In the green field, which is expected to grow and which is a key technological area where Japanese academia has strengths, the Innovative GX Technology Creation Project (GteX) is being implemented to promote the introduction of R&D schemes that enhance technological feasibility, while fostering basic research at universities and other institutions to create innovative GX technologies and human resources to support future technologies, and 5.9 billion yen was requested for it.
7.3 billion yen was also requested for the Transformative Research Innovation Platform (TRIP). In order to connect RIKEN's cutting-edge research infrastructure platforms (bio-resources, synchrotron radiation facilities, etc.), a next-generation research DX platform will be built by accumulating and integrating high-quality data, introducing hybrid computing with quantum computers and supercomputers, and integrating mathematical science to advanced DX research so far.
This article has been translated by JST with permission from The Science News Ltd.(https://sci-news.co.jp/). Unauthorized reproduction of the article and photographs is prohibited.