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5.6 billion yen allocated to 33 projects proposed from seven ministries and agencies for BRIDGE — Cabinet Office's initiative for spurring the deployment of R&D results in society


The Governing Board of the Council for Science, Technology and Innovation (CSTI) has decided to allocate 5.6 billion yen to 33 projects in seven ministries and agencies as part of the programs for Bridging the gap between R&D and the IDeal society (society 5.0) and Generating Economic and social value (BRIDGE), intending to direct the results of R&D in ministries and agencies toward solving social issues and addressing other challenges.

The Governing Board Chair Hiromichi Shinohara (Executive Advisor of NTT) stated enthusiastically, "The previous projects in the program on Public/Private R&D Investment Strategic Expansion PrograM (PRISM) have been implemented in a seed-oriented manner, and many of them have been promoted solely from the developer's perspectives. Now, BRIDGE was launched after repeated in-depth discussions with officers in ministries and agencies, including experts in technology deployment in society, and a new yardstick was newly introduced to evaluate the feasibility of deployment in society as well as the technological readiness level. We will also work on solving the underlying institutional bottlenecks, which we hope unlocks possible solutions to social issues as well as creates new businesses."

Fresh projects are also eligible for support.

A meeting of the Governing Board of the Council for Science, Technology and Innovation (CSTI)

Revisiting the philosophy of PRISM, which has already accelerated R&D undertaken by ministries and agencies in individual technology areas, the Cabinet Office launched BRIDGE this April, which intensifies efforts in ministries and agencies by organizing priority projects to capitalize on the results of their R&D and to translate them into solutions to social issues and the creation of new businesses. Whereas PRISM was built on the existing projects and only resources were added with the intention to accelerate them, BRIDGE can accept fresh projects that can be implemented for up to three years.

In BRIDGE, proposals are solicited from ministries and agencies to address the seven priority areas set by the Governing Board (transformation of business practices and related regulations through technological innovation, deployment of technologies in society, creation of start-up businesses, encouraging international mobility of young talent, Japan's important but lagging areas, and others), and the targeted projects are selected following preliminary evaluation and necessary revisions. 42 projects, amounting to approximately 14 billion yen in total, have been submitted from seven ministries and agencies, of which 33 have been adopted.

Falling under the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology's 'Quantum Leap Flagship Program (Q-LEAP),' Tohoku University's subprogram titled 'Quantum Annealing for You (QA4U)/Quantum Computing for You (QC4U)' has fostered a community of 1,000 quantum talents, ranging from high school students to businesspeople and produced 50 quantum computing applications. Nevertheless, no businesses have been created yet.

The Ministry's project, 'Quantum Business for You (QB4U) ' (92 million yen), establishing a platform to promote the commercialization of quantum products, is aimed at developing human resources and creating startups through such efforts as organization of a quantum solution base at Tohoku University that contributes to training and employing engineers who will develop quantum computing applications into quantum products (at business level) and commercialize them; forming a platform to encourage private companies to use quantum products created in the project and other projects.

The Police Departments offer lectures and other pedagogic activities to their staff to help them acquire questioning techniques, since children are susceptible to inducement or suggestion when they are questioned by police, but there is not enough time and space for such training. In fact, an avatar training tool is currently being employed by some Prefectural Police Departments, but an operator is still required to evaluate and provide feedback to questions posed by trainers.

AI training tools are being developed in parallel, but they have insufficient capacity to evaluate structured listening techniques and are less accurate than those of operators. In the National Police Agency's project (104 million yen), in cooperation with a company that specializes in AI development, an AI training tool has been jointly developed and improved to enable closer simulation of practical operations. The Agency carries out a demonstration test and pursues commercialization.

Conventional biobanks consist mainly of sera and surgical specimens, and there are no digital data banks that store the overall information of the same patient integrating medical care, genomes, medical images, and medicine. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare's project 'Digital Medical Databank Initiative to Contribute to the Development of the Medical Digital Twin' (363 million yen), which, is intended to build Japan's first digital medical databank, realizing AI-driven next-generation medical workflows and using the databank for drug discovery and medical device development.

Among other factors, as no medical images actually fall under the category of anonymized processed medical information under the Next Generation Medical Infrastructure Act, technical methodologies for anonymization and pseudonymization of medical images are therefore established in conjunction with the Ministry's 'Research Program Implementation Policy,' and these methodologies will be actively used. Furthermore, harmonized with 'Establishment of an Integrated Healthcare System' in the 'Cross-ministerial Strategic Innovation Promotion Program (SIP),' the research goals and medical database specifications are aligned with each other, and early deployment of SIP projects in society will be supported.

In the second phase of SIP, the 'Integrated-System for Disaster Reduction 4(for) Municipalities (IDR4M)' was developed to provide disaster risk information that integrates hazards (floods and landslides) and local vulnerabilities. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism's project 'Accelerating the Nationwide Deployment of IDR4M' (238 million yen) is intended to achieve the following: 1. Upgrading the IDR4M system from the current version only intended for a single local government to one able to generate and provide disaster risk information valid for the evacuation of people living in the entire river basin in case of large-scale disasters that occur in wider areas involving multiple municipalities; 2. Through demonstration experiments, confirming the possibility of expanding the areas of application of the IDR4M system; and 3. Working on business models for data distribution to companies and other entities.

Under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry's project 'Practical Global Research in AI x Robotics and Services ' (350 million yen), the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) will promote the smooth deployment of AI technology in society and the development of young talent through promoting international joint research with Carnegie Mellon University in the U.S., capitalizing on its compiled research results and international collaboration frameworks to ensure that Japan does not lose its competitive edge and to cope with delays in AI research by focusing on the fields in which Japan remains strong, such as industrial robots and service engineering. In carrying out research on scenarios of deployment in society for each research theme, the AIST leverages Carnegie Mellon University's entrepreneurship education and its other advantages as well as the cooperative framework of the AI Japan R&D Network and pursues the deployment of AI technology in society of the results as well as human resource development.

Additional allocations will be determined in September.

BRIDGE's total budget is 10 billion yen, of which 7 billion yen will be allocated for R&D-related projects such as those determined at this time. The Cabinet Office plans to solicit additional proposals from ministries and agencies and decide on the allocation of approximately 1.4 billion yen in September.

This article has been translated by JST with permission from The Science News Ltd. ( Unauthorized reproduction of the article and photographs is prohibited.

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