Imperial and University of Tokyo to lead cleantech revolution


Leaders from Imperial and University of Tokyo with PM Rishi Sunak

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (fourth from left) announced the partnership alongside leaders from Imperial, UTokyo and Hitachi

Imperial and the University of Tokyo have announced a major new strategic relationship for cleantech and energy research.

The partnership was announced by UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at a UK-Japan business forum ahead of the G7 Summit in Hiroshima.

The partnership builds on major industry-research centres in climate repair and energy systems that both partners have with Hitachi Ltd.

The Presidents of Imperial and the University of Tokyo signed the agreement ahead of the G7 Summit, witnessed by the Executive Chairman and the Chief Technology Officer of Hitachi Ltd.

signing ceremony
The wide-ranging partnership will see scientists from Imperial and the University of Tokyo work closely together on research projects. Picture credit: University of Tokyo

All three organisations have an ambition to create a sustainable society and accelerate the transition to zero pollution.

The wide-ranging partnership will see scientists from Imperial and the University of Tokyo work closely together on research projects and new technology in areas such as energy, decarbonisation and climate repair.

"This landmark new partnership in cleantech can be a catalyst for new discoveries and breakthroughs that can lead us to a sustainable future.” Professor Hugh Brady President of Imperial College London

The two prestigious universities will bring together world-leading academics, industry, government, and other stakeholders to ensure that the most promising breakthroughs are rapidly scaled to realise potential global benefits more quickly.

Earlier this month, the UK and Japan renewed the two countries’ longstanding Science and Technology Agreement for the 21st Century, with a focus on innovation and game-changing new technologies.

The renewed deal opens up more opportunities for close collaboration to bring cutting edge new technologies to market and could focus on priority areas such as cleantech.

The landmark strategic relationship is a significant step forward for UK-Japan science in cleantech and sustainability.

Mary Ryan at Tokyo University
Vice Provost Mary Ryan (fourth from left) visited the University of Tokyo

Minister of State at the UK Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, George Freeman MP, said: “Harnessing science and technology (S&T) through global collaboration is key to solving the most pressing challenges facing our planet. That’s why I’ve made clear the UK is committed to deepening our global impact through deeper strategic collaboration with R&D powerhouse economies like Japan – with whom I signed our new S&T Cooperation Implementing Arrangement in Tokyo last week following the G7 Science Summit.”

“This partnership between Imperial College London and the University of Tokyo – two of the world’s top universities in the field of S&T – to tackle climate change through green Cleantech technology is another part of our UK/Japan collaboration, and a concrete example of how we can use science and technology as a force for global good and help unlock the UK as a global science superpower.”

Professor Hugh Brady, President of Imperial, said: “Tackling the threat of pollution and climate change is the greatest global challenge we face. Achieving net-zero will require an enormous step-change in our economy, industry and society. Science and innovation have a vital role in accelerating the world towards this goal. This landmark new partnership in cleantech can be a catalyst for new discoveries and breakthroughs that can lead us to a sustainable future.”

Professor Teruo Fujii, President of the University of Tokyo, said: “The strategic relationship we signed centers on the promotion of energy transition. We will bring together knowledge and promote the creation of cleantech innovations that will lead to the building of a sustainable society. I am confident that our collaborations will contribute to creating a better society on a global scale.”

Dr Itaru Nishizawa, CTO of Hitachi Ltd., said: "It gives me great hope to see the University of Tokyo and Imperial College London, two universities with a strong track record of working with industry, enter a strategic relationship focusing on the energy transition. The realisation of carbon neutrality, one of the major challenges for 'humanity as a whole' requires a comprehensive transition of 'society as a whole'. Hitachi has a strong relationship with both universities, and I believe we can contribute to enhancing a fruitful and meaningful collaboration between the two universities as they embark on this new endeavour."

Long history of collaboration 

Imperial and the University of Tokyo have a long and successful history of working together on scientific research and innovation. The two leading universities have published more than 500 joint research papers in the last five years.

The University of Tokyo and Hitachi Ltd. collaborate through the H-UTokyo Lab which carries out joint research in a broad range of areas, including a focus on data-driven energy systems transformation and smart cities.

Imperial and Hitachi Ltd. collaborate through the Centre for Decarbonisation and Natural Climate Solutions in fundamental and applied research, addressing key challenges in decarbonisation and climate repair in order to achieve a Net Zero future.

Women in STEM event 

Women In STEM event
The University of Tokyo hosted a Women In STEM event. Picture credit: University of Tokyo

Also during the trip, Akshata Murty, the spouse of UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, visited the University of Tokyo as part of the UK G7 delegation and participated in a roundtable with President Brady and Vice Provost (Research and Enterprise) Professor Mary Ryan to champion the cause of Women in STEM. 

The focus of the discussion with female students and researchers centred around sharing UK-Japan learning on promoting gender equality and empowering women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The discussion was aided by presentations by talented PhD students from Yukiko Gotoh’s Molecular Biology Lab at the University of Tokyo.

Professor Ryan said: “It was wonderful to hear from early career researchers, whose input and fresh perspective are vital when tackling complex global challenges. We are committed to increasing representation in STEM, to ensure that we provide open and inclusive opportunities that bring in new talent and diversity of thought."

"International partnerships are one of the ways through which we can facilitate collaborations between our women scientists and their peers, and I look forward to the projects we will be developing with University of Tokyo and Hitachi over the coming months.”

Solving global challenges 

President of Imperial Hugh Brady with the University of Tokyo President Teruo Fujii. Picture credit: University of Tokyo

In an interview with Japanese newspaper, The Asahi Shimbun, President Brady explained that the major issues facing society, such as sustainability, the transition to a decarbonised society, and antimicrobial resistance, cannot be resolved without cooperation beyond national borders. Imperial is committed to strengthening its academic partnerships with institutions in Japan and already works closely with many partners such as the University of Tokyo, Kyoto University and Tokyo Institute of Technology and Tokyo Medical and Dental University.  

Earlier this year a delegation of academics visited Japan to grow these links.  

Imperial hosted a Net Zero and Healthy Future symposium with the Tokyo Institute of Technology and the Tokyo Medical and Dental University to bring together research leaders to discuss global challenges. Academics from Imperial and Japan highlighted how research can enable better healthcare in the future - from prevention, through disease management and better pandemic preparedness. 

Earlier this month the Japanese Ambassador, Hajime Hayashi, met with Imperial leaders, academics and students, and visited laboratories that are working with Japanese industry in clean energy and sustainability.   


Joint statement from Imperial College London and University of Tokyo on Cleantech partnership


Stephen Johns

Stephen Johns
Communications Division

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