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Technical Innovation and Research Collaboration / Clusters: Biomedical Engineering in Japan

Although Japan has been one of the leading markets for medical products, most medical devices are imported to the country. Addressing this circumstance, the Japanese government launched a national STI strategy mentioning biomedical engineering as one focus area to achieve a “healthy and active ageing society as a top-runner in the world” through “reinforcing industrial competitiveness in the areas of pharmaceuticals and medical devices”. Despite the decline in innovation activities since the 1990s, Japan currently experiences a rise of ikō renkei (med-tech partnerships) at the interface between academia, industry and hospitals. This development is strongly supported by the newly established Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) and various prefectural governments. By employing a multiple-actor research perspective on (biomedical) research collaborations and regional clusters in Japan, this research aims at exploring the organisation of med-tech partnerships and content of innovation activities as well as their institutional and socioeconomic context.

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