Home Management Promoting Research Excellence : New Approaches to Funding.
It is recognised that the WPI Initiative has achieved or at least advanced crossdisciplinary research. IFReC links research on immunology and imaging; IPMU combines research on physics, astronomy and mathematics.
It is also recognised that the centres are flexibly managed, unlike existing university departments and research institutes. Japanese university research support systems had not been able to keep up with changes in research activities, but the WPI Initiative has influenced research support throughout the universities. Support for foreign researchers has also been bolstered and has contributed to the internationalisation of the universities as a whole.
The WPI Initiative thus fulfils its role as a pioneer for university reform in terms both of research and of the research system.
IFReC at Osaka University has had difficulty finding senior-level specialists. It is particularly difficult to convince those with achievements in informatics to participate in immunology research. Finding young researchers and postdocs is easy.
The WPI Initiative has a fixed term of ten years. Future challenges will include continuing the programme into the future and securing essential personnel. Headhunting for highly skilled researchers began after passing the five-year point, with five years remaining.
The WPI Initiative involves more than selecting research centres and allocating funds. Programme officers have to make frequent site visits. Although some criticism is harsh, there should be a common understanding between the funding body and people in each centre.
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