Improving productivity through innovation will be indispensible to Japan’s continued growth and development in the future. Thus, NISTEP is investigating the processes by which the accumulation of knowledge that is generated by investment in tangible and intangible assets—which include R&D in not only universities and public research institutions but also private enterprises—leads to innovation.

Innovation and intangible assets

Stronger production that is based on innovation will be needed for Japan’s continued grow in the future. And as a developed country, it is important that Japan invest in intangible assets in order to realize innovation. Here, NISTEP is using economic approaches to investigate the processes by which investment in intangible assets brings higher productivity through innovation. NISTEP collects data on innovation activities in enterprises by implementing the “Japanese National Innovation Survey” as a general statistical survey approved by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. It also builds a database and conducts empirical analyses on the relationship among intangible assets, innovation and productivity using various data from Japan and abroad, including micro-level data items concerning enterprises and places of business of government statistics. To promote these surveys and studies, NISTEP also collaborates with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI), Hitotsubashi University, and other domestic and overseas organizations.

Surveys and research

Japanese National Innovation Survey

The Japanese National Innovation Survey is a general statistical survey of official statistics of Japan that investigates status and trends in the innovation activities of private enterprises. It is conducted based on the OECD’s Oslo Manual (Guidelines for Collecting and Interpreting Innovation Data) . Innovation surveys that are based on the Oslo Manual are conducted in nearly 80 countries around the world, a fact that makes their results suitable for international comparison.

Thus far, NISTEP has conducted the Japanese National Innovation Survey in 2003 and 2009. It should be noted that NISTEP has attempted to minimize the burden on respondents by conducting a pilot survey prior to the main survey. And it has established a “Japanese National Innovation Survey Advisory Committee” charged with reviewing and improving the survey’s questionnaire items and methods from political and academic standpoints by gathering the views of intellectuals and experts.

Moreover, NISTEP collaborates with the OECD’s National Experts on Science and Technology Indicators (NESTI) when conducting the survey and promoting international comparison of its results.

Building a database on intangible assets, innovation, and productivity

NISTEP is building a database that will serve as the basis to examine the effects that R&D by universities, public institutions, and the private sector as well as other forms of intangible investment on innovation and productivity. The database will arrange and supply data on intangible asset investment; indicators concerning the R&D spillover effects between companies as well as from public institutions to companies; indicators of intermediate output (specifically, innovation output and patent applications); and data on productivity, employment creation, and other indicators of economic growth as aggregate data by industry and region as well as micro data for listed companies.

To build the database, NISTEP is working together with RIETI and universities that implement projects based on the Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research scheme. It is also pursuing international collaboration with the OECD’s “New Sources of Growth Project,” which is an undertaking concerned with measurement of intangible assets. (Please click here for more information on the New Sources of Growth Project.)

Micro data analyses of relationships among intangible asset investment, innovation, and productivity

NISTEP is studying the factors at play when companies make decisions regarding intangible asset investment (including R&D), the influence of these intangible assets on innovation, and their impacts on productivity growth. In particular, NISTEP is pursuing research on the avenues of intra-industry and inter-industry spillover effects from private R&D investment, as well as research on the effects of research by universities and other public institutions on innovation by companies and industries. Such research is promoting the use of data collected by the Japanese National Innovation Survey and database on intangible assets, innovation, and productivity.

Other results concerning innovation and intangible assets
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R&D management

The process of innovation consists of mutual interaction among private companies (who are the central actors in the process) , the government, universities, and public research institutions. Thus, when formulating and implementing S&T policy from the standpoint of creating innovation, it is important to appropriately ascertain the R&D activities and management trends of not only the government, universities, and public research institutions but also private companies, which bear approximately 70% of Japan’s total R&D expenditure.

In FY1968, the then-Science and Technology Agency began conducting the “Survey on Research Activities of Private Corporations” as an approved statistical survey of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications to grasp research trends in private companies. The survey has been conducted almost every year subsequently. Responsibility for its implementation was passed to NISTEP beginning with the FY2008 survey. It is currently the only survey of R&D activity in private companies that is conducted continually and on a large-scale basis.

NISTEP also conducts surveys on international development of R&D activities by private companies, surveys and research that focus on industry-academia collaboration and intellectual property management, and surveys on research management by universities and public research institutions.

Surveys and research

Surveys on R&D activities by private companies

NISTEP conducts the general statistical survey “Survey on Research Activities of Private Corporations” each year. The survey targets approximately 3,500 companies that engage in R&D activities and have at least 100 million yen in capital.

Surveys on industry-academia collaboration

NISTEP manages a database on industry-academia collaboration and analyzes industry-academia collaborative activities using this database in order to get a picture of the actual status of such collaboration, which has been promoted through measures of the central government and others since the mid-1990s.

Surveys on intellectual property rights and innovation

NISTEP studies methods that use intellectual property rights as an indicator of R&D achievement as well as on the ideal forms of intellectual property systems and management that encourage innovation.

Surveys on corporate internationalization

Given advancing internationalization in private-sector R&D, NISTEP conducts surveys on the status of R&D internationalization, specific initiatives taken by local subsidiaries, and R&D cooperation with overseas interests in order to get a picture of realities in this area.

Surveys on management of universities and public research institutions

NISTEP conducts surveys and research that focus on management of universities and public research institutions, which are the main actors in the national innovation system. NISTEP implements surveys and research on laboratory management at public testing institutes and surveys of management systems at universities that are among the world’s leading research bases.

Other surveys concerning private companies

NISTEP studies and analyzes the influences that private companies’ non-R&D activities have on innovation.

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