Digital Single Market
Digital Economy & Society

6th EU-Japan Symposium on ICT Research and Innovation

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5G, Internet of Things, Cloud and Big Data were the main topics of the EU-Japan ICT Research and Innovation Symposium. During the two days of the event, European Commission and Japanese officials together with ICT experts involved in research and innovation projects funded by European and Japanese authorities had the opportunity to exchange views on the topics and establish direct scientific links between these two regions of the world.

The overall message of this symposium was that joint action in 5G, IoT, Cloud and Big Data may be beneficial for industries and in line with the ICT policies pursued by the two regions.  

DG CONNECT together with the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) and the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) organised the EU-Japan ICT Research and Innovation Symposium on October 6th and 7th in Japan. This was the 6th edition and part of the EU's International cooperation in ICT Research and Innovation.

Both EU and Japan acknowledged that sharing information on respective policy agendas and strategies is fundamental to this collaboration and most importantly the joint activities in ICT research and innovation is beneficial for European and Japanese industries and potentially beneficial for economic growth in both regions. Mr Hiroyuki Takeda, Director General MIC, Mr Fumihiko Tomita, Vice President NICT and Mr Viorel Isticioaia-Budura, Ambassador of the European Union to Japan, who opened the Symposium, highly praised and recognised the importance of the EU-Japan cooperation in the ICT field and especially on 5G, Cloud and Internet of Things (IoT).

The opening speeches were followed by presentations of respective ICT Policy and R&D strategies by Mr Shuji Yamaguchi, Director of MIC, and Mr Bernard Barani, acting Head of 'Future Connectivity Systems' unit of DG CONNECT. Especially, Mr Yamaguchi stressed during his presentation the fact that for MIC the technologies on IoT, Cloud and Big data combined with Artificial Intelligence are very important research areas. In the area of IoT, he presented the Japanese initiative called 'IoT Acceleration Consortium' under the strategic concept "Society 5.0", an initiative similar to the European Initiative 'Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation' (AIOTI). Mr Yamaguchi also mentioned that 'open platforms' are strongly supported by MIC and he presented the IoT Common Platform, an initiative similar to the IoT European Platforms Initiative (IoT- EPI) where Edge Cloud and IoT are the predominant technologies. Mr Barani highlighted the importance of the digitisation of Europe's industry during his presentation and briefly presented the European Commission's latest initiative on  the 'Digitising European Industry' (DEI) package. He also mentioned the importance of moving connectivity towards the 1Gb/s range in Europe in the context of European Commission's recently announced set of initiatives and legislative proposals towards a European Gigabit Society, which includes a specific Action Plan to support 5G deployment in Europe.

The morning session continued with the launch of the new joint research and innovation projects from the 3rd EU-Japan coordinated call under H2020 WP2016-17. These new projects are: 5G MiEdge, 5GPagoda, ICN2020, BigClouT, CPaaS.io. Then, a presentation of the interim results of SAFARI, RAPID, iKaaS and FESTIVAL, all projects from the 2nd EU-Japan coordinated call under H2020 WP2014-15, followed. The morning session ended with the presentations of the final results by projects from the 1st EU-Japan coordinated call under FP7: GreenICN, STRAUSS, MiWEBA, ClouT, FELIX and NECOMA.

In the afternoon, during the special session on 'IoT/Smart City', the policy aspects rather than pure research issues were in focus. A number of presentations from European and Japanese associations as well as keynote speeches on platforms and use cases of IoT/Smart City were given. For example, Professor Hideyuki Tokuda from Keio University presented the mission of the 'Japanese IoT Acceleration Consortium' set-up in October 2015 in detail . From the European side, Mr Fernando Nishantha from BOSCH, which is an AIOTI board member, presented the mission and vision of the 'Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation' (AIOTI) and its latest work on IoT. Finally, the Vice President of NICT, Mr Fumihiko Tomita, presented the 'Open ICT Innovation Platform' Initiative of NICT. 

Following the presentations, a panel discussion concluded that open platforms, open data, open APIs are key enablers for innovation and will help in the digitisation of smart cities. Technologies like Edge Cloud will play a role when data cannot be kept in the cloud but needs to be transferred in the edge for faster and efficient processing close to the devices where the data came from. Data location and ownership are still obstacles in cross-border transactions. Standardisation is required as interoperability is the main factor for opening up the markets and become more competitive in the data driven economy.

During the second day of the Symposium researchers from both sides presented their views and explored possibilities for potential future collaborations. In particular they discussed about a potential 4th joint call under the Horizon 2020 (H2020) work programme 2018-2020.

The sessions of the October 7th were mainly focused on the combination of Cloud, IoT and Big data (including security aspects) as well as 5G (and beyond 5G). This 2nd day finished by presentations from the moderators about the sessions' outcomes. Maria Tsakali, Programme Officer of 'Cloud and Software' unit, stressed that any future research collaboration should be focused on co-developing interoperable technologies, demonstrating cross-border applications and overall provide support to the Digital Single Market policy goals.

The 6th EU-Japan Symposium ended with the closing remarks of Mr Shuji Yamaguchi and Mr Bernard Barani. Both sides agreed that any future collaboration should be in line with the policy and research strategies developed in both regions and should support the overall policy agenda of both governments. Following the success of this event, any prospects of a future collaboration under H2020 work programme 2018-2020 will be discussed further among all involved parties and an agreement will be reached in time for its endorsement during the EU-Japan ICT Dialogue scheduled to take place in Brussels in December 2016.

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