Greetings from the President

2023.01.01 Update

Kazuhiro Hono

Happy New Year, and I would like to offer my greetings at the beginning of the year 2023.

During the eight months since I took office as President of NIMS last April, I have had the opportunity to hear the opinions of a wide variety of stakeholders, and I have once again felt the high expectations placed on NIMS as a designated national research and development agency. To meet these expectations, we will continue our efforts to produce world-class results in materials science and technology and to return those results to society.

Last year, we frequently heard reports that Japan's science and technology competitiveness was declining globally. Against this backdrop, the government has clearly positioned science and technology innovation as the driving force behind Japan's economic revival and has begun bold investments in advanced science and technology and thorough support for startups. On the other hand, considering Japan's declining population and the long-term downward trend in the number of doctoral students in graduate school, it is not enough for individual researchers to make efforts alone; it is important for the organization NIMS to formulate strategies to further enhance its research capabilities and to steadily implement them.

The Fifth Medium- and Long-Term Plan for NIMS will begin on April 1 of this year. The major change from the 4th period is the establishment of the Research Center for Macromolecules and Biomaterials, which will bring together researchers in the polymer and bio-related fields, which have been dispersed in various centers. To strengthen research in this field, we are expanding our animal experiment facilities and organic materials laboratories. In addition, as an operating grant project, basic research will continue to be conducted at seven research centers (energy and environmental materials, magnetic and spintronics materials, structural materials, electronic and optical functional materials, nanoarchitectonics materials, macromolecule and biomaterials, and basic research on materials). At the same time, we will continue to promote priority projects on quantum materials, carbon neutrality, biomaterials, and other issues that need to be addressed in a timely manner in response to the needs of the times, under a flexible, cross-organizational structure. We call the research funded by these operating grants "mission research" based on national strategies, but we believe that missions alone are not sufficient to attract excellent young scientists. Therefore, we will also support basic research that can be freely conducted with individual ideas and discretion by utilizing NIMS's own income. In the increasingly competitive environment of Japan's universities and research institutes, we are strengthening the branding of NIMS so that we can attract the best talent, and we are putting in place a system that allows us to hire the right people quickly, even outside of regular open recruitment for employment.

With the shortage of human resources to support basic research in the materials industry, which accounts for 25% of Japan's exports, it is necessary to utilize data-driven methods for efficient materials development. To this end, we will establish a Materials Data Core Center and build an infrastructure that enables researchers to utilize the data collected and accumulated there. In recent years, the presence of Japanese researchers in the international arena has been declining, and the importance of internationalization has been pointed out once again. NIMS will revitalize the international exchange of researchers, which had been interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

NIMS, as a designated national research and development agency, is expected to contribute not only to basic and fundamental research, but also to innovation creation. NIMS has conducted various joint research projects with industry through the COE Centers and the Materials Open Platform (MOP). For NIMS to continue to be a world leader in materials science and technology, I feel that it is necessary to respond flexibly to changes in the global research environment and constantly take on new challenges.

As President of NIMS, I am committed to further improving the research capabilities of NIMS, and I ask your continued support and guidance in the coming year.

Kazuhiro Hono