Ambassador July 2015

GREAT British tradition and innovation

A special showcase at HM the Queen’s Birthday Party

British Ambassador to Japan Tim Hitchens CMG LVO (left) and Will Butler-Adams OBE, chief executive of Brompton Bicycles, at the British Embassy Tokyo

British Ambassador to Japan Tim Hitchens CMG LVO (left) and Will Butler-Adams OBE, chief executive of Brompton Bicycles, at the British Embassy Tokyo

Each year the Queen’s Birthday Party is held at the British Embassy Tokyo under a different theme.

This year’s event celebrated tradition and innovation. First, it celebrated four generations of the Royal Family with a photo exhibition of the Duke of Cambridge’s recent visit to Japan and, second, it showcased British entrepreneurship, the nation’s spirit of innovation and its burgeoning partnerships with Japan—all of which is being brought together this year under the UK government’s Innovation is GREAT campaign.

This special message explores the growing opportunities for UK–Japan collaboration and what is in store for the innovation campaign in Japan.

The UK is known for its entrepreneurship and spirit of innovation. A well-established business environment and governance, government support and incentives help make creative ideas come to life.

Our discoveries, inventions and ideas have a profound impact on the world. Famous entrepreneurs include Sir James Dyson CBE, Sir Paul Smith CBE and Sir Richard Branson KBE.

A touch-screen monitor showed the UK’s work on innovation.

A touch-screen monitor showed the UK’s work on innovation.

Famous British inventions include the worldwide web, the idea and prototype for the linear motorcar, the automated teller machine, the wind-up radio, which has helped share vital information in protecting against infectious diseases, and the wonder material graphene.

Great ideas flourish in Great Britain.

The UK—a country with just under 1% of the world’s population—is home to 29 of the world’s top 200 universities, more than 4% of the world’s researchers and 11% of Nobel laureates.

The UK boasts the most productive research base in Europe: our top-ranked universities and forward-thinking research councils conduct high quality science that feeds the innovation pipeline. We are also the top destination for inward R&D investment in Europe.

But we can harness those strengths even more by working with our top partners. Japan is the second-biggest contributor of foreign direct investment into the UK. It has also generated many great business ideas and technologies, and has great strength in sophisticated manufacturing.

Green tea panacotta with rhubarb (right) was on the menu.

Green tea panacotta with rhubarb (right) was on the menu.

Moreover, Japan is now seeking collaboration in the context of open innovation. When the UK and Japan work together, we are world leaders. Publications of our joint research are cited 2.5 times more often than the global average. We are part of each other’s success. More cars are produced in Nissan’s plant in Sunderland, England, than in the whole of Italy.

International collaboration is a priority for the UK. Over 10% of the UK’s total science budget contributes to international research collaboration; 40% of UK research council grants have an international component; and 40% of UK research staff and 50% of UK PhD students are from overseas. More than 8,000 researchers are exchanged between Japan and the UK each year, while many links—between university and business, as well as international business collaborations—already are bearing fruit.

In the UK, there is a thriving business–university collaboration, valued at over £3.5bn per year. Investment from firms such as Hitachi and Toshiba in UK universities shows the value of this expertise. UK universities have a strong record in nurturing world leaders: they are 10 times more likely than US tertiary institutions to have educated a future head of state.

Space-related exhibits were on display.

Space-related exhibits were on display.

Sustained investment by the government in UK science and innovation systems ensures we have the facilities and capability to remain global leaders: £5.9bn over the next five years, including £3bn to support our world-class labs at universities and research institutes.

Over the coming months, there will be a range of exciting events and activities. Currently underway and marking its second year is the Japan–UK Tech Awards competition to encourage Japanese start-ups to take their technology businesses to the UK. Meanwhile, one of last year’s three winners is already looking to start up in the UK.

We will also see a two-week road trip, when a Nissan Leaf electric vehicle will have an exciting homecoming, after which it will make its way around Japan. Look out for a host of celebrity drivers. And, later in the year, there will also be events centred on the key sectors of robotics, smart energy, connected infrastructure and genomics.

Innovation is GREAT—the UK government’s campaign—aims to shape the future, with the UK bringing ideas and technology to the global level. Visit the Innovation is GREAT blog and find out about exciting upcoming events: