Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University is to expand its collaboration with Japan’s Nippon Foundation to develop skills and technology
Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University (RGU) and the Nippon Foundation of Japan (NF) – a non-profit social innovation hub – have signed a letter of intent (LoI) which will see the two collaborate in areas of ocean innovation. The agreement was announced at RGU on September 5, and will see the NF and the university continue to develop their relationship, following the university’s inauguration of the first summer school for 15 Japanese students in 2016.
The NF is an independent grant-making organisation founded in 1962. Its ocean-focused wing, the Ocean Innovation Consortium (OIC), was launched in Japan in 2016 and includes university, industry and public agency partners with the aim of developing people for different aspects of offshore development.
Foundation chairman Dr Yohei Sasakawa was with the delegation in attendance at the signing. Dr Sasakawa said: “I would like to especially look to RGU to take the lead role so that RGU and the Nippon Foundation, hand in hand, co-operate not only in educating students but also strengthening and deepening our partnership with industry.”
Expanding education is this field is a key priority for the Japanese government. The offshore sector in Japan is expected to be worth 50 trillion yen (US$450 billion) by 2030, and the country aims to boost the number of offshore engineers to 10,000 by that time –a five-fold increase from the current figure of just over 2,000. The hope is that the relationship with RGU can help support the training of new, skilled personnel for this market.
The signing of the LoI occurred during the final week of the 2017 Ocean Innovation Consortium summer school at RGU, which has seen 10 students studying different aspects of marine engineering and some practical experience at the DART drilling simulation suite at RGU. The group also spent five days at The Underwater Centre in Fort William, undertaking diving and subsea training.
RGU director of business development Donella Beaton explained to InnovOil that as Japan looks to a build a more diverse marine sector involving aquaculture, renewables and frontier projects such as methane hydrate development, the NF had sought the expertise of a number of universities worldwide in launching a marine engineering training programme. RGU’s broad links to industry, and its technical resources, helped the university stand out during early discussions with the NF in 2015.
This relationship has grown, and with two successful summer schools now complete, the intention is to deepen the co-operation between the two organisations. Future projects may include further skills development, as well as co-operation in new marine engineering technologies.