ERATO encourages its researchers to publish actively in distinguished international journals and to present papers at international meetings. ERATO provided data to the JTEC panel indicating that, of the projects completed thus far, the number of published papers has averaged between twenty-five and fifty per project.


Although not the primary aim, a large number of patents have resulted from ERATO- sponsored research. Any patent right which has resulted from a project may be shared in an agreed-upon manner -- by JRDC (50%) and the researchers who are directly responsible for the invention for which the patent has been granted (50%). The portions of the patent rights belonging to members can be transferred to their home institutions upon termination of the project.

According to data provided by ERATO, up to the present time, ERATO researchers have applied for 849 Japanese and 157 foreign patents. Eight licenses were granted to companies interested in using research results from the following six projects: Ultra-fine Particle, Perfect Crystal, Fine Polymer, Solid Surface, Quantum Magneto Flux Logic, and Chemirecognics. Subsequent to licenses being granted, twenty-one patents were filed. Four projects had six research results that were transferred through JRDC's Cooperative Technology Development program. These projects were Ultra-fine Particle, Superbugs, Fine Polymer (three results), and Perfect Crystal.

Royalties have also been obtained from ERATO results. From 1986 (the end of the first set of projects) until 1995, 19,437,000 (approximately $194,000) was received.

Research Follow-On

Most ERATO projects are focused on basic knowledge rather than being oriented toward achieving utilitarian results. While it is important for the projects themselves to bear fruit, a second consideration is whether or not project results lead to further research and development. Continuing the research at universities and national research institutes has proven difficult. However, there are a number of cases where ERATO research has led to some rather large research programs outside JRDC. In one case, a former group leader of an ERATO biosciences project was subsequently funded by Matsushita Electrical Industrial Co, Ltd.. for about $10 million per year to continue basically the same line of research. Below are several examples of ERATO projects that were subsequently funded by Japan's Key Technologies program in cooperation with private companies: 5

  1. Masumoto Amorphous and Intercalation Compounds Project (1981-1986) Performer: Amorphous Magnetic Device Laboratory (KK) Term: March 1988 - March 1994 Sponsor: Japan KeyTec Center with 28 companies Funding: 2.3 billion
  2. Nishizawa Perfect Crystal Project (1981-1986) Performer: Small Power Communications Systems Research Laboratories (KK) Term: March 1988 - March 1993 Sponsor: Japan KeyTec Center with 26 companies Funding: 2.0 billion
  3. Inaba Biophoton Project (1986-1991) Performer: Biophotonics Information Laboratories Term: March 1993 - 1999 Sponsor: Japan KeyTec Center with 19 companies Funding: 3.45 billion

Symposia and Workshops

ERATO holds two sets of annual symposia that are open to the public and aimed primarily at corporate and governmental research managers. At these symposia, new ERATO projects are introduced, and projects in their third, fourth, and fifth years present their results for the previous year. Approximately 1,300 persons attend the symposia. At the end of its five-year term, each project presents a one-day symposium that is open to the public and aimed primarily at researchers active in the field. If the project is located outside the Tokyo/Kanto region, the symposium is held twice, once in the project's home region and a second time in Tokyo. Attendance at the Tokyo symposia averages about 240. ERATO also holds one or two international symposia each year in Europe, the United States, Canada, and Japan to focus on selected key fields in which ERATO projects are participating.

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Published: September 1996; WTEC Hyper-Librarian