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For practical industry-academia collaboration

With the new Coronavirus outbreak now calming down, foreign companies are expected to enter the Japanese market with their technologies and services from 2023, and foreign companies are also expected to change the game in markets where domestic companies have been strong. Under these circumstances, major Japanese companies scramble to develop new technologies and businesses.

However, it is proving difficult to break free from the path dependency that has seeped into society over the years. This is the case where technologies that have been fundamentally researched domestically or internally are not easily marketed.

To solve this problem, companies have attempted to seek out and incorporate novel basic research and startups from outside the company. However, the gap between global trends and the company's own developments has resulted in the company falling behind foreign companies without translating into sales.

To solve this problem, I would like to introduce German methods of recruitment, internships, and industry-academia collaboration.

Like most foreign countries, Germany does not have a seasonal "new graduate hiring", but only recruits with the skills and experience the company is looking for at the right time. This is also a key point. Recruitment guidelines are a corporate strategy, guiding students in their choice of what skills and research will create value in the marketplace.

Students apply for internships as a way to start their careers to make their skills and research useful in the real world. Companies do not consider internships as an opportunity to provide students with social experience, but rather as a way for students to gain practical work experience as assistants and team members, and to evaluate their skills with an eye toward employment.

In addition, university courses in business are mandatory even for science majors. The curriculum is designed so that students can be immediately effective in the corporate world after graduation.

Under this system, there is a natural link between what students learn at university and what they do in the workplace, so it is not unusual for students to return to the university, communicate with professors, and take classes in order to improve their skills and research content even after employment. In Germany, this is the origin of industry-university collaboration. Personal and spontaneous communication between graduates and universities often leads to the exchange of information about global market trends in companies and the latest research at universities, and often triggers industry-university projects.

In Japan, on the other hand, companies and universities usually carry out their projects under the procedure of "partnership," but it is difficult to market them. One of the reasons for this may be the discrepancy between the content of university courses and research and the practical content required after employment, and the lack of communication between graduates and universities that arises from this discrepancy.

It may be difficult to immediately implement major changes in Japan's recruitment and internship systems. However, each of us should actively communicate with our alma mater and try to exchange information on business trends and research content, which is a fundamental and important action to continuously market basic research in the future.

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