Chapter 1

INTRODUCTION

George Gamota

In 1988 a team of U.S. scientists commissioned by the National Science Foundation (NSF) went to Japan to study an unusual Japanese research program called ERATO (Exploratory Research for Advanced Technology), which had been in operation since the early 1980s but was just beginning to be noticed outside Japan. Although ERATO is funded by the Japanese government, the program's scientists are free to conduct their own research with little, if any, interference or oversight. Seven years after the first study, another panel of experts from the Japanese Technology Evaluation Center (JTEC), including some who served on the first panel, returned to Japan to reexamine ERATO and also to study a newer project, Precursory Research for Embryonic Science and Technology (PRESTO). The primary charge of the JTEC panel was to study the ERATO concept and process, especially its impact on science and researchers, rather than just to evaluate the details of the large number of technical projects that have been funded under ERATO. During this study, based on an intensive ten-day visit which began on September 1 and ended on September 10, 1995, the JTEC panel interviewed representatives of more than half the forty-five ERATO projects (past and current).

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Published: September 1996; WTEC Hyper-Librarian