The Super Smart Society also is dubbed Society 5.0, representing the next phase after hunting, agriculture, industry and the information age.
The Tokyo-based conglomerate will assign 12 research and development personnel to the new Hitachi The University of Tokyo Laboratory on campus, interacting with academic researchers in a broad range of fields to formulate and answer questions about the Super Smart Society and envision the Japanese economy of the future.
Hitachi is forging similar unconventional relationships with Kyoto University and Hokkaido University. The company aims to transform from a producer and seller of things into a business that identifies corporate and social issues using AI and works with private companies and government groups to resolve those issues.
The 19,000 collaborations in Japan between industry and academia in fiscal 2014 represent a 70% rise from a decade ago. But the money typically invested in each one during that time remained stuck around 2 million yen (US$19,500), according to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
Yoichi Ito, director-general of the ministry's Science and Technology Policy Bureau, said the initiative between Hitachi and the University of Tokyo "redefines the meaning of collaboration between industry and academia." He urged Japanese companies to increase investment for research with universities.
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