CONCLUSIONS

The JTEC team came to Japan to learn the impact as well as the effectiveness of social experiments like PRESTO in terms of the following areas:

Generating and Nurturing Embryonic Research

PRESTO appears to be very effective in identifying numerous innovative research topics with exotic titles. PRESTO research has resulted in finding basic functions of materials, genetic and biochemical behaviors of cells, mechanisms of bioluminescence and bacterial motion, ion pumping, atomic scale structure of semiconductors, spin-polarized electron behavior, and so on. All researchers are very enthusiastic, extolling the uniqueness or innovation of their research. They have produced numerous papers in international journals, as well as an impressive number of patents.

Enhancing Research Opportunities

Some mechanism might be created to continue or expand the embryonic research germinated during PRESTO. Knowledge acquired, techniques developed, and instruments constructed during this research must be utilized by other and/or future researchers.

Improving Future Opportunities for Individual Researchers

There is no question that the majority of researchers have used PRESTO for their professional and/or academic advancement. Yet some researchers risked lifelong employment security for PRESTO with its somewhat uncertain future. They moved their families to new locations where they have had to adapt to new environments. The opportunities will depend upon Japan's economic situation at the time their PRESTO projects near completion. Although one hopes every PRESTO researcher will find a suitable opportunity to keep pursuing his or her research, there is no guarantee. Lifetime employment and the seniority system is anathema to the very concept of PRESTO. Yet one cannot help but be sensitive to what will happen to the researchers who eventually lose their productive capability.

Improving the Technological Competitiveness of Parent Organizations

Through the innovative proposals to combine the existing capabilities and research structures with refreshing research ideas, many universities and national labs definitely have improved their research capabilities by acquiring equipment otherwise too expensive for them to buy alone. These laboratories should be able to start new programs to further improve their research potential for securing future funding opportunities.

Improving Scientific and Technical Databases to be Useful in Future

PRESTO projects have generated a great many useful data: data for crystal structures, genetic manipulation, material constants, experimental techniques, cell-cell interaction, learning mechanisms, brain functions, protein chemistry, and others. These data must be critically evaluated and stored in electronic databases readily accessible to future researchers. Otherwise the impact of the entire PRESTO effort will be diminished.

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Published: September 1996; WTEC Hyper-Librarian