Table of Contents

Global Clusters of Innovation

Global Clusters of Innovation

Entrepreneurial Engines of Economic Growth around the World

Edited by Jerome S. Engel

In the geography of the global economy, there are known ‘hot spots’ where new technologies germinate at an astounding rate and pools of capital, expertise and talent foster the development of new industries and new ways of doing business. These clusters of innovation are significant drivers of value creation and function as models for economic expansion in both developed and developing countries. This book explores the key attributes of these innovation hubs using case studies from around the world.

Chapter 8: Japan: the university as a driver for innovation in response to two decades of economic depression

Shigeo Kagami

Subjects: business and management, entrepreneurship, economics and finance, economics of innovation, innovation and technology, economics of innovation, innovation policy, urban and regional studies, regional economics


This chapter examines the challenges facing Japan in recovering from two decades of economic depression, the correlation of this economic malaise to the decline of Japanese entrepreneurial innovation, the recent role of the national universities in addressing the entrepreneurial gap and in fostering technology commercialization and innovation, and the challenges that remain. After World War II, the Japanese economy experienced an unprecedented time of rapid economic growth, known as the ‘economic miracle years’, characterized by the birth of innovative companies such as Panasonic, Toyota, Canon, Sony and Honda that rapidly became world leaders. In the late 1980s the economic boom led to aggressive speculation and subsequent crisis, from which Japan has not yet recovered. Among other factors contributing to this sustained decline, the dearth of entrepreneurship in these decades plays a significant role. Cultural, societal, educational, legal, and financial factors lie at the root of this entrepreneurial gap. In the early 2000s government policy makers acknowledged the importance of innovation in restarting the economy and identified the national universities as a driver for increasing entrepreneurship and innovation. The universities, leaders in Nobel Prize-winning research, were made independent from the national government and given the mandate to disseminate and utilize their research for the benefit of society. The University of Tokyo provides an example of how these goals have been implemented over the last ten years through entrepreneurship education, university-industry collaborations, startup support, and seed funding.

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