Yesterday, Dec. 3, I was invited to give a talk at the Science Counsellors meeting at the Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium.  It was organized by the Delegation of the European Union to Japan.  This invitation was made, as I had a chance to join the infomal lunch hosted by EU delegation last year for the cluster study group from the region.

  The title of the talk was “Japanese cluster s and how to link with Europeans.”  I was heavily involved with the cluster research and cluster policy intiative for some time several years ago, but have not lately. So I contacted my colleague who have been involved with the clusters to find out the status.   I also decided to give my own view about the cluster policies and the potential area of collaboration with Europe, instead of showing many slides etc.  I briefly touched upon the historical background, status in 2010 and the future prospect. 

   As always, the Q & A session was very lively.  After I made some critical comments about the lack of clear direction for the Science & Technology policy in Japan, I was asked what I would do if I were the Prime Minister.   I love this type of questions and gave three points. (For some reason, I cannot recall what I said first, though I had a clear priority!) 

  In addition to several more questions, I also received many valuable comments.  (They are even more helpful as I am to give a keynote speech at the Innovation Lecture next week in the Netherland.)  Some include: “be sure to talk about positive aspect, in addition to the issues” “science & technology policy needs clear vision such as ‘moon landing’ that everybody can relate to,” ” specific examples are good, in particular of the innovative companies” ” discuss both general trend and interesting specific examples.” 

   It was the first time for me to visit the Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium,and I find the architecture  beautiful.  The talk was followed by reception where I was fortunate enough to try Belgium beer. It was almost the first time I tried Belgium beer and they tasted great!

   We then moved to the nice restaurant nearby and had lunch with small number of people.  The discussion over lunch was also very intersting and informative.  I learned many things,  which will be helpful for my own speech next week.  It was pleasant day with many good lessons.