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URA Office

URA Office

We, URA Office, widely support the research conducted by Shinshu University and its collaborative industry-government activities. We do these by means of obtaining grants, exploiting them, consulting about agreements, and providing effective and practical advice for successful research.

What is the URA Office ?

First, URA is an abbreviation for University Research Administrator. The Japanese title is not used, but normally the position is referred to as URA. A concise definition of the role of the URA is "to vitalize the research activities of researchers and to strengthen the management of research and development".
In April 2011 the Research Administration Office was established in the Shinshu University Industrial Liaison Office, which is referred to as the Shinshu University URA Office, which is currently engaged in strengthening liaison within and without the university, and deepening and transforming its activities.
In order to further vitalize the activities of the URA Office and contribute to the development of Shinshu* area and Japan, we would like to deepen the understanding of the work of the URA Office among not only researchers, academics, industry, and government, but also the general public.
*On April 1st, 2014, the Shinshu University Industrial Liaison Office was re-organized as the Shinshu University Industrial Liaison and Social Engagement Organization.
*The old name of Nagano Prefecture.

What is the Work of a URA?

Senior URA

  • - Close liaison with and research into local governments and industry
  • - Formulate business plan for industrial liaison center
  • - Research
  • - Operation of industrial liaison center
  • - Management
  • - Surveys of central and local government industrial policies
  • - Analysis, proposal , and research
  • - Reflection in business plan for industrial liaison center
  • - Strengthening the operation of the research and industrial liaison center
  • - Guidance of young URAs through OJT (on the job training), classroom lectures, and human resource training
  • - Improving the level of each business division , and URA education for graduate students

URA

Common items
- Support for formulation of strategic research plan for individual researchers, and obtain research funds
- Liaison with academic affairs manager
- Collection and use of public offering information, and support for preparation of application forms, plans, and reports
- Technology transfer (product development, commercialization)
- Local characteristics, markets, patents
- Surveys of research trends, and liaison with Public Relations
- Promotion of international exchange and industrial liaison projects
Nanomaterial, fiber, and environment manager
- Determination of reduction in CO2 emission when implemented in society
- Estimation of natural energy potential
Bio - and life sciences manager
- Procedures for clinical research and clinical trials
- Approval of drugs and medical equipment
- Compliance with bioethics (including conflict of interest)
Humanities and sciences fusion manager
- Formulation of brand strategies
- Conduct of marketing researches and formulation of business plans
- Fostering of human resources for local development
- Survey and analysis of regulations

Workflow of a URA

We have just seen the job description of Senior URAs and URAs as bullet points, but from these bullet points it is difficult to get an image of what they do and why. Therefore, let us track the tasks undertaken by the URA Office as a time series. (*Strictly speaking the content will vary depending on what is being supported and the ultimate objective of the researcher or research group)

Pre - awardWork prior to obtaining funds, etc.
① Collect information on researchers within the university

Collect information on all researchers in Shinshu University, determine the status and results of the research of researchers within Japan and overseas, and carry out objective evaluation, etc. It is important to accurately determine what researchers are researching what, and what their strengths are. First the status within the university is thoroughly determined.

① Collect information on researchers within the university
② Determining trends within Japan

Next information on research trends in Japan is collected from the point of view of both trends in national policy and academic trends, and the status is determined. Obtain an understanding of what research can budgets be obtained for, in other words what fields the Central Government is focusing on, and an understanding of what the Central Government is requiring. In addition, using customized databases link to outside academia and collect a wide range of information so that no trends are missed. This is very effective when later formulating the research strategy and plans.

③ Matching research and trends

Compare ① and ②, and find combinations of research and domestic trends by asking what research can utilize the strengths of Shinshu University?, what research has the potential to achieve national development and worldwide success?, and what research can national budget be obtained for or could be evaluated as being beneficial for the country? What is important in this case is to precisely determine the standing of the university both within Japan and overseas. This is because it is important to achieve results. For example, if the target is not accurately defined for a public call for proposals, there is a possibility that results cannot be obtained thinking that the real strengths of the university cannot be utilized. At this stage, the Senior URA carries out further matching with the overall strategy of the university, and undertakes to develop a large scale project in accordance with the objectives of the university as a whole. Many researchers are gathered, and a plan is formulated for the centers of research in collaboration with industry that have the latest large scale equipment. This is a typical example.

④ Assembly of proposal information → Preparation of application documents

Next comes the work of submission of the proposal for research funds, etc. URAs provide know how or guidance on preparation of application documents in accordance with laws and regulations, or provide support for preparation of documents. Also, the research strategy and plan required for submission are prepared, so that the research will be smoothly carried out after funds are obtained, and a detailed plan is prepared so that finally results will be obtained. If centers managed by Senior URAs are formed, several researchers are assigned either as individuals or to a group. In addition in many cases there is participation from companies or from government, so detailed coordination is necessary. An operation plan for the facilities that will serve as bases and prior coordination with each department and arrangements for collaboration, etc., must be carried out.

Post - awardWork after obtaining funding, etc.
⑤ Research management

The project is managed so that it can proceed in accordance with the plan. Periodically checks may be carried out to determine the status of progress and so that the objective can be properly achieved (results obtained). Also, as the research progresses it becomes necessary to manage or protect the intellectual property, and carry out contract negotiations with companies for technology transfer (product development, commercialization) of the research results. In these cases a URA with knowledge of patents or legal matters is necessary.

⑥ Progress report

The results are also reported to the funder and those to whom the results are to be reported. In some cases there is a requirement to submit a report at the end of the academic year, so support is provided to prepare the documents, etc. Also, the URA acts as an intermediary within and without the university informing of the research results and investigating subsequent further developments, and searches for methods and directions to utilize new strengths of researchers and Shinshu University.

The capabilities that a URA must have are extremely varied, including of course knowledge of each individual research, as well as information collection capability and analysis capability, formulating strategies and tactics (formulating plans) on the assumption that they will be implemented, implementing these plans and the capability to carry out coordination to mobilize people and materials to achieve the goals. However, the position of the URA within Japan is still vague, and the capabilities and the work content of the URA vary depending on the university. We are working to raise the level of URAs and at the same time to steadily accumulate achievements, to raise the evaluation and recognition of URAs as a specialist, with the aim of raising their standing. We are also taking the lead in raising the level of the URA in Japan to the level in the United States with the aim of achieving the advancement of human resources necessary in each university.