Improvement of Research Environement for Young Researchers
Improvement of Research Environement for Young Researchers
The Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture Sports, Science and Technology has designated Nagoya Institute of Technology (NIT) an organization responsible for implementing the “Fostering Young and Innovative Researchers based on the Industry-Academia-Government Collaboration” program, which is a part of the Ministry’s “Special Coordination Funds for Promoting Science and Technology for FY2009.” NIT is taking this opportunity to launch a project named “Fostering Young and Innovative Researchers based on Industry-Academia-Government Collaboration.”
This project aims to establish a tenure-track system in which:
1. Young talented researchers are invited from both inside and outside Japan as specially appointed visiting professors under limited-time contracts.
2. They are provided with independent research environments in which to perform researches at internationally competitive levels. In the future, they are expected to play leading roles in research and education in leading interdisciplinary research fields at NIT and to promote research at NIT, while achieving new research innovation, cultivating new research fields etc.
3. They will be employed as tenure-track professors.
NIT’s original organizations, each called “project research laboratory” have achieved various satisfactory results, such as the development of young researchers, preparation of independent research environments for researchers and acquisition of external funds. On the basis of such results, NIT has decided to establish on its premises a new institute, named “Center for Fostering Young and Innovative Researchers” ( “Center” for short), which will focus on researchers in NIT’s four top priority leading interdisciplinary research fields (nanotechnology and material sciences, information and communication technologies, environment and life sciences).
The Center will use an open recruitment system to invite talented young researchers from universities, research institutions and private corporations inside and outside Japan. These researchers should be devoted to leading-edge researches in NIT’s four top priority fields. They will join the Center as specially appointed visiting professors (tenure-track assistant professor or tenure-track associate professor) under five-year limited-time contracts, and will be fostered so as to become young innovative researchers. The Center will provide them with independent research environments to enable them to continue innovative researches. In practice, they are allowed to form a group, as needed, to receive university-wide support, such as participation of related professors and postgraduate students in their research activities, collaboration with the related project research laboratory and the effective use of open laboratories and off-campus facilities. The Center will also appoint a coordinator (a tenured professor associated with the specific research field) for each of the four priority fields. The coordinator should be responsible for mentoring the specially appointed visiting professors and supporting their research activities.
Once a year, scientific and academic performances will be evaluated impartially by the “Visiting Professor’s Performance Evaluation Committee,” consisting of experts from inside and outside NIT.
After expiration of the visiting professors’ contracts, the university president or related department will recommend preliminarily authorized number of eligible researchers as tenured professors (associate professors) in the specific departments. Depending on the desire, aptitude, or research task of the researchers, the Center will suggest to them various promising career paths, such as recommendations to other industrial research institutes or overseas institutions.
After completion of this project, the Center will be reorganized as an independent institute financed by external funds to continue serving as a university-wide human resources development center by collaborating with related departments and research laboratories.
(1) Outline of human resources development system reformation scheme
1. Establishing an institute names the “Center for Fostering Young and Innovative Researchers” (“Center” for short), based on industry-academia-government collaboration, so as to form a research organization that will focus on leading interdisciplinary research fields, thereby providing young and innovative researchers with independent research environments.
2. Through open recruitment, adopting young researchers as specially appointed visiting professors under limited-time contracts with the Center, and introducing them to a tenure-track system.
3. Providing the above visiting professors with a variety of career paths, including the assignment of a preliminarily authorized number of them as NIT tenured professors by recommendation of the president and the related departments, or recommending the remaining researchers to industries, as well as to domestic and overseas universities and research institutes.
4. Promoting researches at internationally competitive levels through international research collaboration.
5. Revitalizing research activities and education at NIT by effectively using external funds based on industry-academia- government collaboration.
(2) Specific targets to be achieved by the end of the third year
1. Establishing a tenure-track system for the Center.
2. Inviting 16 specially appointed visiting professors (6 in the year, 2 in the second year and 4 in the third year) under five-year limited-time contracts, with priority given to women and foreigners.
3. Interim evaluation of researchers’ scientific and academic performances by “Visiting Professor’s Performance Evaluation Committee,” consisting of experts from inside and outside Japan, to promote researchers to tenure position in the selected departments of NIT if they are evaluated as having achieved excellent performances (internationally competitive research results, earning competitive research funds etc.).
4. Organizing an “External Review Committee,” consisting of outsiders entrusted by NIT and dispatched from outside universities, research and private enterprises, to review the Center’s self-inspection/evaluation results.
(3) Specific targets to be achieved before project completion
1. Introducing a self-management system into the Center in steps.
2. Inviting 16 specially appointed visiting professors before completion of the project and, after completion of their term, providing them with various career paths such as promoting a preliminarily authorized number of them to tenure positions through recommendation of the president and related departments, recommending the remaining researchers to universities and public research institutes inside and outside Japan, or sending them into private laboratories.
3. Expanding the application range of the tenure-track system, whose establishment will be based on the concept of this human resources development system, to the young researcher employment systems for project research laboratories and other NIT organizations.
(4) Tasks to be accomplished after project completion
1. Continued management of the Center independently, in line with the budget plan and recruitment plan to be drawn up on the basis of earned external funds (competitive funds, research funding by private enterprises) and their effective use.
2. Encouraging tenured young researchers to earn competitive funds, increasing the number of industry- academia-government collaboration researches by sending talented human resources into society and increasing the acceptable number of specially appointed visiting professors, thereby spirally expanding the scale of the Center’s tenure-track system.
3. Developing the Center’s tenure-track system as a core for fostering talented young researchers that can play leading roles in promoting leading interdisciplinary researches at NIT.
(5) Expected ripple effects
1. The Center consists of research-oriented groups responsible for research activities in four selected fields. The specially appointed visiting professors adopted by the Center can therefore conduct their innovative researches independently of NIT control.
2. NIT has used its original project research laboratory system to develop a young innovative researcher development program. The Center will use the external funds, based on industry-academia-government collaboration, to further upgrade this program as “a human resources development system model toward the establishment of a tenure-track system.” Considering the current situation in universities, where only limited resources are available for human resources development, this project will have great ripple effects on other engineering colleges and various other engineering fields.
(6) External valuation result