A stated goal of JRDC in creating ERATO was to support basic research. There is no pressure to create technology or to be innovative in an applied sense. So large observable impacts on technology and innovation might not be expected. Yet ERATO seems to have had its fair share of such impact, and JRDC has established the means for carrying applications forward, if they appear likely during a project, although entrepreneurial high-tech small companies are still a rarity in Japan.
One way technology transfer is encouraged is through high-tech consortia, begun by JRDC in 1986. The potential of a novel concept, for example from ERATO but not exclusively so, is investigated across a number of applications by funding a consortium of noncompeting companies, each one carrying out applied research in its own area. Funding, partially provided by JRDC, is rather modest and extends for a maximum of two years. At present, ERATO results are receiving priority in high-tech consortia activities; furthermore, a recent trend is making the program increasingly regional so small companies are becoming more important.
Industrial researchers, and particularly directors, have tended to choose projects that are more closely aligned with potential applications, and in a number of cases continued the work at their home institutions after the expiration of ERATO funding. As noted earlier (see Chapter 4), a good example is that of Dr. Yoshida's work in X-ray lithography.