SoftBank to Establish “Beyond AI Institute”

SoftBank (Tokyo) — The University of Tokyo and SoftBank Corp. today announced an agreement to establish the Beyond AI Institute, a new research facility that will gather the world’s best minds and launch programs to develop businesses with research results.

The Beyond AI Institute aims to be an advanced artificial intelligence (AI) research organization that brings together top-level researchers from the University of Tokyo and leading universities abroad. The institute will conduct fundamental research for key AI technology and for incorporating research from other academic fields. Using these fundamental research results, applied research will be conducted for the purpose of utilizing AI to address issues facing society and industry. Along with linking fundamental research areas to applied research domains, for business development the Beyond AI Institute will actively utilize the Collaborative Innovation Partnership (CIP) system that was newly formulated by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), which enables universities and companies to rapidly set up joint ventures.

Through the Beyond AI Institute, the University of Tokyo and SoftBank Corp. will contribute to Japan’s AI research and AI-related businesses to lead Japan’s AI revolution.

Specific Initiatives

(1) Advanced AI research conducted by top level researchers from the University of Tokyo and universities abroad. To forge new AI-related fundamental research areas such as the radical evolution of AI enabled by quantum physics and the combination of AI and biofunctions, researchers at the University of Tokyo involved in physics and medical fields—areas that the university excels in—will be assigned to the institute to realize AI integration. In conjunction with this, researchers at top universities abroad will be brought on board to create a world-class team that conducts advanced AI fundamental research.

(2) Commercialization of research results using new joint venture system. Promising results from fundamental research will be passed on to applied research for application to fields such as “Health and Medical,” “Public Works and Social Infrastructure” and “Manufacturing.” Furthermore, the CIP system, which makes it possible to rapidly set up joint ventures between universities and companies, will be utilized to commercialize research. Using this system will create an ecosystem where it will be possible to quickly envision commercialization through joint ventures at the research stage and invest returns from business ventures into future research activities. This will in turn contribute to the nurturing of next-generation AI experts and educational activities (The Beyond AI Institute will also collaborate with Deepcore Inc., Innovation Platform for The University of Tokyo Inc. and related venture capital companies in forming ventures).

(3) Research facilities to be located at University of Tokyo’s Hongo Campus and the future SoftBank headquarters in Takeshiba. The research facility dedicated to fundamental research will be located in the University of Tokyo’s Hongo Campus and the research facility for applied research will be established at the future SoftBank headquarters in Takeshiba, which is expected to open during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2021. These two locations will be linked by the Science and Information Network (SINET) that is run by the National Institute of Informatics (NII) to build a structure that enables seamless transitions from research to commercialization.

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