Shared Spaces for Collaboration: MEXT Grant Funds Two New Buildings
New centers will promote collaboration among industry, government, and academia, as well as facilitate joint research.
Earlier this year, OIST was awarded a prestigious grant from the Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). The “Regional and Specialist Research Universities Award” is given to increase a university’s research capabilities by funding facilities that allow for greater collaboration.
With the award , the university will construct two buildings to house collaborative projects. On the main campus, “OIST-land-neXus" will be built adjacent to Lab 5. "OIST-sea-neXus" will expand the Marine Science Station on the Seragaki campus.
“The key here is the ‘nexus’ concept,” says Professor Nicholas Luscombe, OIST Dean of Research and project leader. “OIST is a small, exceptional university. Through collaboration — the increased throughput of people, ideas, and expertise — this grant allows us to gather an even greater diversity of people and ideas to build on the work that we can do here.”
At OIST-sea-neXus, the university will expand its aquaculture program and build on the university’s strengths in cephalopods, coral ecosystems, and oceanography.
“This will boost our ability to bring researchers from around the world that want to study Okinawa’s unique coastal and marine ecosystem,” says Professor Sam Reiter who leads the marine science user group for the OIST-sea-neXus construction project.
OIST-land-neXus will grow OIST’s theoretical work in areas such as genomic analysis, quantum technologies, and theoretical physics.
One project that will benefit from these facilities is the Global Bioconvergence Center of Innovation. This OIST center, funded in 2022 by a grant from Japan Science and Technology Agency on Open Innovation Platform for Academia-Industry Co-Creation (COI-NEXT), looks for ways that life and biomedical, marine sciences, engineering, AI and complex systems, and the institutional synergies between academia, government, and industry can develop solutions to problems affecting the health of people and the environment.
Additional collaborations planned for the spaces include those with Keio University, University of the Ryukyus, The University of Tokyo, Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Oxford, and Cambridge, Max Planck Institutes and so on.
“OIST-land-neXus and OIST-sea-neXus will enhance OIST’s role as a bridge between Japan and the global community,” says Luscombe. “It really is about drawing people in to address pressing problems affecting Okinawa and the world.”