Message from the Founding Director

The Tokyo Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center (TEIC) marks a new era for Tokyo University of Science. The university, also known as TUS or Rikadai 理科大, has approximately 20,000 students. It is the largest supplier of engineers and scientists to Japanese industry but until recently it has not been active in entrepreneurship education. TUS began in 1881 as the Tokyo Academy of Physics 東京物理学校, founded by several graduates of what is now the University of Tokyo. It has been dedicated to education in science and engineering ever since. In more recent years, TUS established a School of Management, which today admits nearly 500 incoming students each year. It also has a Graduate School of Innovation, which trains mid-career managers in the management of technological innovation and strategic management. The university, with its various faculties, including a School of Pharmacy, now has three strong pillars to build on for the future: science, engineering, and management. In addition, the university has an innovative center dedicated to cross-disciplinary research, the Research Institute for Science and Technology (RIST).

TEIC is the result of more than 1.5 years of planning. The evolution of the center is described elsewhere in this website (see About – History). Our discussions started among the Tokyo team members of the 2015-2017 cohort for the MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Program (MIT REAP). This is an educational initiative started at the MIT Sloan School of Management to work with teams from around the world to promote economic growth by creating new companies and businesses in their regional ecosystems. We were also inspired by two centers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: The Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and the MIT Deshpande Center for Innovation.

Now, finally, it is time for Tokyo University of Science to create its own center with a distinctive mission. TEIC@TUS is specifically dedicated to the needs of Japan and aims to take advantage of the unique strengths of the university and the Tokyo ecosystem. Our strategy for the center has four key elements.

First, our focus is on education with a purpose. We want to help as many TUS students and faculty as possible – in science and engineering, as well as in management – to think and act more like entrepreneurs and innovators. We want them to learn how to combine technical knowledge with business skills. It does not matter if our graduates and professors start their own companies or go to work for large firms, small firms, the government, or the education sector. We want to improve their educational experience and encourage researchers at the university to think more about commercial opportunities and build deeper ties with industry and the financial community.

Second, the center will promote both university entrepreneurship (students, faculty, alumni, and other members of the Tokyo ecosystem) and corporate entrepreneurship (new business development and spin-outs, and commercialization of university research). In particular, we want our engineering, science, and management students, as well as faculty members, to experience first-hand what is required to create new businesses and new business models.

Third, the center will promote growth-oriented entrepreneurship and commercialization activities specifically driven by scientific and technological research – what our colleagues in the MIT REAP initiative have called “innovation-driven entrepreneurship.” Startup firms and new businesses within existing firms have the most potential to expand and contribute significantly to Japan and the global economy. We believe that future Japanese university graduates, and their professors, must better understand how to connect applied research in science and technology to customers and markets.

Fourth, the center is initiating or coordinating many complementary activities that, at other universities, are usually separate. We are organizing these activities around four “Hubs” led by TUS faculty and TEIC staff: (1) Education, (2) Research, (3) Networking, and (4) Nurturing. The Center is also closely partnering with the University Research Administration (URA) and the TUS Investment Management Corporation (TUS-IM) for many of our activities and to build a corporate partners program that we hope will contribute to executive education and technology transfer to industry.

Even before the formal launch of the center, the Tokyo REAP team and the university have already sponsored many new activities and classes supporting education in entrepreneurship and innovation. For example, in 2016, the TUS School of Management (SoM) introduced a new required curriculum in entrepreneurship and practice-based learning. SoM also had extraordinary enrollment (more than 500 students) in one elective class, Startup School. In the School of Engineering, we taught Innovation Teams Lab (modelled on a class at MIT) to explore startup and licensing opportunities from university research. In 2017, we will open this class to students in the School of Management. In August 2016, TUS-IM held a successful Startup Weekend event with 100 participants. In September 2016, the Tokyo REAP team held an event at the TUS School of Management with the MIT Alumni Association and Hubspot CEO Brian Halligan, with 230 attendees. We also ran a small workshop on design thinking. At this moment, we have a business idea competition underway and we will follow the competition with a two-month mentorship program.

The MOT program already has courses on the history and principles of entrepreneurship, venture finance, and starting new ventures. From April 2018, corporate entrepreneurship will become a central focus of the new MOT program, to which we are adding a “high-tech MBA” track. In fact, we have completely redesigned the mid-career part-time master’s program to emphasize both the management of technological innovation as well as corporate strategy and high-tech entrepreneurship.

In 2018, we are also planning to merge the Graduate School of Innovation with the Graduate School of Management. This will create a new Tokyo University of Science Graduate School of Business as an umbrella organization for our various programs.

The Tokyo REAP team members have all been partners in designing this center. How well it accomplishes our goals will depend on what the university and center leadership does in the future. There is much to do, but we have already benefitted from the efforts of many dedicated faculty, administrators, staff, and students. I am especially grateful for the support of the Chairman of the Board of the Tokyo University of Science Foundation, Mr. Kazuo Motoyama; the President of Tokyo University of Science, Professor Akira Fujishima (also co-champion of the Tokyo MIT REAP team); and Managing Director of Tokyo University of Science, Professor Soichiro Okamura. Our participation in the MIT REAP program would also not have been possible without a generous donation from the Larry and Atsuko Fish Family Foundation and financial contributions from Fujitsu Ltd., SIGMAXYZ, and Nippon Sangyo Suishin Kiko (NSSK).

December 1st, 2016
Michael Cusumano
Founding Director
Tokyo Entrepreneurship & Innovation Center@TUS