ERATO AND PRESTO OVERVIEW
The ERATO research program is funded by the Japanese government. It
is administered by one of the government-run public companies, JRDC,
which under the STA, reports directly to the prime minister's office.
There appear to be no similar programs in the United States. Each year
the program selects four directors to run projects of their own
choosing for five years with an annual budget of about ¥370 million
(U.S. $3.6 million). Each director, with the help of the ERATO project
office, organizes his effort from the beginning, namely, finding space
to lease, recruiting staff and ordering equipment. Usually projects
have been located near a university, company, or government laboratory.
The ERATO process has changed very little from its inception, and its
objectives today are the same as they were in 1981.
Typically, a project director, who works only part time on an ERATO
project, organizes three groups, not necessarily located in same
facility or even the same city. Each group then is headed by a group
leader. While each project is managed according to the project
director's wishes, common rules apply across all projects:
- Funding is fixed for each year, and the project director must
manage within this budget.
- The project can run for only five years, with no exceptions. A
project's administrative office continues for six months after the
project to get things in order, but that is all. In the almost
fifteen-year history of ERATO, no exceptions have been made to continue
a project. Projects occasionally have been continued by the project
director when he has returned to his organization full time, but in
most cases research has continued at a reduced funding level and scale
and has been funded by the company itself.
- The management structure of each project is common to all: a
project director, a technical manager, an administrative manager, and
often three group leaders. Everyone on the project, with the exception
of the project director, works full time on the project and is an ERATO
- The entire research staff is recruited for each project,
although on many occasions, the project director might bring a few
researchers from his parent organization. This is particularly true if
the project director comes from a company.
Published: September 1996;