These and other innovative joint projects will take centre stage at the Australia-Japan Innovation and Research Symposium in Kyoto next week.
Universities Australia will lead the Australian delegation on 22-25 October. The symposium co-organised with the Japanese Association of National Universities and supported by the Australian Government’s Australia Now program.
UA Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said Japanese and Australian researchers had a long history of working together to solve major challenges for both countries and the wider world.
“One great example is a project between the University of Tasmania and the University of Hokkaido, which is investigating the impact of climate change on phytoplankton,” Ms Jackson said.
“These tiny marine organisms are a major source of fish food and the foundation of the global marine food chain,” she said.
“Marine foods supply 17 per cent of the world’s protein and support the livelihoods of more than 56 million people. So, it’s absolutely vital we protect this invisible but important part of our marine ecosystem.”
Researchers from Japan and Australia are also examining how the robotics revolution can be rolled out in aged-care.
A project between Japan’s Keio, Rissho and Toyo universities and the University of South Australia could see robots become future carers for Australia’s rapidly growing elderly population.
Ms Jackson said Japan’s sustained and significant research investment offered a powerful reminder to Government and business of the need to rev-up Australia’s R&D spend.
“Over the last 30 years we’ve seen a worrying trend in Australia, with Government and business spending less and less on R&D. This means we are lagging behind global competitors,” she said.
“For example, Japan spends 3.28 per cent of GDP on R&D compared to Australia’s 1.88 per cent. And Australian business spends only 1 per cent of GDP on research, compared to 2.57 per cent in Japan.”
“The world’s leading economies recognise the power of investing in R&D and are upping their efforts. But we seem blind to the trend and are falling way behind.”
The collaborative research projects are highlighted in a booklet (Australia – Japan Booklet) produced by Universities Australia with support from the Department of Education and Training.