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~2 Structural Problems That Impede Access it In examining the barriers to access it is important to look first at the large systemic obstacles that inhibit access across a spectrum of fields and second at those problems that are specific to certain fields. Earlier discussions about symmetrical access as well as the preliminary survey identified some of the generic obstacles that present barriers to U.S. researchers attempting to participate in and learn from R&D in Japan. The reasons are many and difficult to resolve outside the context of a specific technology or field. Because U.S. access and experience in Japan are comparatively limited, contradictory reports from various institutions and individuals are more difficult to evaluate than they would be in the context of broader, deeper experience. While it would be impossible in this report to cover all the various perceived and real barriers to access, there are some general themes from the discussions of optoelectronics and biotechnology that were corroborated by the survey respondents. At a general level there are significant differences in the R&D systems of the two countries: Japan's excellence in applied product-oriented research carried out in corporate labs that are less accessible to foreigners than university or government labs, contrasted with the comparative excellence of the United States in basic research. Another major difference lies in the preponderance of Japanese researchers sent to the United States, many under the sponsorship of corporations. A discussion of structural barriers is not complete without some examination of the factors that inhibit U.S. researchers from taking full advantage of the opportunities and information that are accessible in Japan. These include lack of knowledge about Japan in general and science and technology in particular, a 14
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15 "not invented here" outlook that renders as less valuable information obtained outside U.S. borders, and lack of proficiency in the Japanese language. Many American researchers who have worked to overcome these limitations and spent significant amounts of time in Japan also find that their efforts are not rewarded by their home institutions. U.S. organizations are still ill equipped to utilize foreign-acquired information. Both Japan and the United States are taking steps to address these structural problems. In terms of general trends affecting both sectors, R&D investment by leading private Japanese companies is increasing more rapidly than in counterpart U.S. firms. In some subfields of optoelectronics, the United States is now dependent on Japanese technology. In particular, Japanese electronics companies are allocating considerable resources to research on high-performance, small, "quantum" structures, although there is no comparable effort in the United States outside a few universities. Overall, R&D investment is still higher in the United States due in large part to bigger government outlays. But there is evidence of a recent push by Japanese industry to increase basic research.14 In this context the desire of U.S. researchers, particularly those in optoelectronics, to gain access to Japanese industry-sponsored R&D is understandable. The Japanese participants at the meeting shared data documenting the increase in collaborative research projects involving "diversified" participation of companies from different industries in Japanese R&D consortia.lS The formation of these diversified consortia presents as yet unknown implications or U.S. industry. As a fast step, more information is needed about the these projects involving similar rival companies in Japan; the analysis and information concerning this form of collective research are still inadequate. In the biotechnology field the excellence of some Japanese university research in biotechnology is becoming acknowledged in the United States. Examples of such research include that of Professor Taniguchi at the Department of Molecular Biology at Osaka University and the work of Professors Beppu and Karube at Be University of Tokyo. However, despite the importance of university-based research, both the U.S. participants at the meeting and respondents to the preliminary survey underscored the desire of researchers in both biotechnology and optoelectronics to have improved access to R&D going on in Japanese corporations and consortia. From the U.S. perspective, an asymmetry is created by the fact that cooperative research is university based in the United States, more open to all industry regardless of nationality, whereas in Japan cooperation is based on industry consortia which are less accessible. Japanese companies such 14 It should be noted that the telll1 "basic research" as used in Japan includes moh~eki kisokenl~u (goal-oriented basic research). 15 See Fumio Kodama, National Institute of Science and Technology Policy, Science and Technology Agency of Japan, "Rivals' Participating in Collective Research: Its Economic and Technological Rationale," op. cit.
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16 as Hitachi are establishing laboratories on the campuses of U.S. universities, thereby deepening ties to the university research community. In the case of biotechnology the high quality of work taking place in Japanese biomedical research laboratories makes access to these institutions important to U.S. biotechnology researchers. Japanese researchers are afforded free access to American university laboratories, where informal contacts and the ability to scout out new developments are of great benefit. An asymmetry has become particularly apparent in the relationships between pharmaceutical companies and universities in the two countries. The relative openness of the university system in the United States allows free access by foreign firms, but U.S. corporations report that they must go through third parties to make contacts with Japanese university professors. The informal close networks of relationships between Japanese university professors and Japanese corporations are seen by many U.S. corporations as a particularly significant obstacle to access.16 A key point from the U.S. perspective is the difficulty of acquiring licenses to Japanese biotechnology early in the innovation process. U.S. biotechnology researchers express some frustration over Japanese unresponsiveness to licensing inquiries as well as the need to utilize third parties (Japanese companies) to obtain licensing rights. These asymmetries underscore the need to cultivate longstanding relations with individuals and institutions in order to expand access over the long term. It is also significant in light of the dynamic nature of the work going on in these two fields and highlights the need to increase information about specific types of R&D going on in Japanese institutions. Another problem encountered by those working on research in biotechnology concerns protection of intellectual property rights. U.S. companies lack confidence that their innovations will be protected in Japan as they are in the United States. Although steps have been taken at the government level to address the problem, questions of patent enforcement limit prospects for cooperation in the field of biotechnology. The problem is exacerbated by the long time span between invention and patentable product created by U.S. regulations. This leaves open opportunities for information scanning from invention to commercialization in the United States that are not available in Japan. It should be noted that the slowness of the patent process in Japan is a source of problems for Japanese fines as well as foreign companies which have an added challenge in dealing with documents written in a foreign language. In optoelectronics a major problem is to improve knowledge of Japanese manufacturing engineering. While opportunities for U.S. participation in Japanese optoelectronics R&D are increasing, there is a need to consider the quality of participation and to emphasize the value of experiences that permit the foreign researcher to learn more about process engineering in Japan. 16 Japanese university professors are sometimes described by their peers as being associated with . . partlcu jar c~npames.
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17 To expand access in the two fields, one must also take into account that in biotechnology the distance between precompetitive and competitive research is short: a fine line separates early discovery from product application. By contrast, He distance between research and product is wider in optoelectronics. The differences in the actual state of R&D in the two fields suggest that the problems and solutions of each should be considered separately. Differences in the definition of precompetitive research and organizational differences in R&D structures must be taken into account in crafting new forms of cooperative R&D.