Northwestern delegation builds ties with alumni and peer institutions in Japan

A Northwestern University delegation recently made a five-day visit to Japan, highlighting meetings with alumni and leaders from a roundtable discussion with major Japanese universities interested in exploring how to translate their capacities into basic research into commercially viable and socially beneficial services.

US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel, who hosted the gathering at the US embassy on June 17, cited Northwestern as an exemplar of a research university in charge of transferring technology to faculty and invited Northwestern administrators and faculty to offer their advice and expertise to Japanese. institutions.

The event drew chief executives and senior executives from Waseda University, Keio University, the Tokyo Institute of Technology, the University of Tokyo, Tsukuba University and Nagoya University. Representing Northwestern were President Morton Schapiro, Vice President for International Relations Dévora Grynspan, Kellogg School of Management Dean Francesca Cornelli and Vice President for Research Milan Mrksich.

(Faculty) are genuinely interested in having their work in the world a better place. “

Milan Mrksich
Vice President for Research

“Not every university [in the U.S.] Was focused like they are now going from pure research to translation, “said Ambassador Emanuel, a Northwestern alumnus who served as mayor of Chicago from 2011 to 2019 and also served as White House chief of staff and member of the US House of Representatives. “It’s been a gradual transformation over the years,” especially over the past 15 years, as institutions have been inspired by the spectacular growth of the Silicon Valley academic-business ecosystem.

“We’d love to help however we can,” Schapiro told his Japanese colleagues in response to the ambassador asking if Northwestern would be willing to expand its partnerships with them. “We have longstanding relationships with the University of Tokyo, Keio, Waseda and many others, and we are always ready to do more, especially in the tech transfer of the area.”

Schapiro said fellow attendee Mrksich “epitomizes the process, as someone who does great research and then uses it to create companies that can change the world.”

Morton Schapiro

Schapiro and members of the delegation met at the US Embassy in honor of a local alumni of honor and friends of Northwestern.

Mrksich discussed the continuing commitment of faculty and students to the often-arduous process of basic research into successful products and services.

“Those who have basic scientific questions focused on how to build teams and companies. Northwestern has brought experts in entrepreneurship to support them, “Mrksich said.” During the past 15 years, the culture has changed dramatically, and many faculty in the sciences are now interested in translational technology. They are genuinely interested in having their work made the world a better place. “

Cornelli told attendees that one of Kellogg’s key strategic priorities is to help scientists and technicians move from the laboratory to the boardroom.

“We’re bringing businesspeople and scientists together,” she said, “to help them interact, talk and engage in ways that are mutually beneficial.”

Cornelli said this often requires a delicate balance, as businesspeople learn how to respect the technical expertise of scientists and scientists to value the market expertise of those on the business side. She noted that Kellogg would be active in Northwestern’s ambitious new technology accelerator at 1801 Maple Street in Evanston, making possible a $ 50 million grant from the state and $ 25 million from trustee Kimberley Querrey.

Ambassador Emanuel also discussed bringing his goal of bringing even greater numbers of Japanese citizens to the United States for formal undergraduate and graduate studies. Northwestern currently has about 1,000 alumni in Japan, with the majority of them being Kellogg degrees.

“We’re eager to further diversify our student body with even more students from Japan. Increasing partnerships and collaborations with Japanese universities and scientists benefit Northwestern in many ways, “Grynspan noted,” not only in terms of diversifying our student body, but also because of joint research by great scholars on both sides — Northwestern and our peer. universities in Japan. This is essential to growing our productivity in science. ”

While representatives of local Japanese universities expressed eagerness to focus further on technology transfer and to partner with Northwestern and other universities, Ambassador Emanuel exhorted them to find their own, distinct paths along the way.

“Don’t follow everything the US has done,” he said. “Learn from our mistakes. You don’t have to repeat them. Make your own way. “

An Ambassadorial Reception for Northwestern Alumni and Friends

That night, the delegation of Schapiro, Grynspan, Mrksich, Cornelli and other members returned to the US embassy in honor of a local alumni and friends of Northwestern, becoming the first university to officially be hosted by Emanuel since he assumed his post earlier. this year.

During a short formal program, Emanuel discussed strong partnerships and Schapiro enjoyed his time as mayor of Chicago, noting in particular his efforts to strengthen the city’s K-12 public education programs such as the Chicago Stars and the Northwestern Academy for Chicago Public. Schools.

Group at dinner table

“We’d love to help however we can,” Schapiro told his Japanese colleagues. “We have long-standing relationships with the University of Tokyo, Keio, Waseda and many others, and we’re always ready to do more, especially in the area. of tech transfer. “

“What you did for education is the greatest part of your legacy as mayor,” Schapiro said during his ambassador remarks. Schapiro also told attendees that he and his wife, Mimi, had a deep love for the people, culture and traditions of Japan. “I’ve been coming to Japan since the mid-1980s, and it’s one of my and Mimi’s favorite places in the world. When we thought about connecting to alumni and friends in Asia, I immediately said, ‘Let’s go to Tokyo.’ “

Celebrating Northwestern and its Alumni

Schapiro also hosted a Celebrate Northwestern Tokyo event at the Peninsula Hotel for about 100 Tokyo-based alumni, parents and friends June 16. This evening a series of concluding installments of global receptions Northwestern hosted to thank a dedicated global network of supporters.

Kellogg Alumni Club of Japan President Hiroshi Odawara (’11 MBA) welcomed guests and introduced Schapiro, who offered remarks and moderated a panel featuring Asako Hoshino (’88 MBA), Executive Vice President of the Nissan Motor Company; Cornelli; Mrksich; and Nanao Yamada (’18 MMus, ’22 DMA), a noted violinist who performed both that evening and at the embassy reception. Schapiro asked each of the panelists to discuss their distinctive “Northwestern direction” career success as well as their thoughts on how the collective efforts of the Northwestern community during the campaign could pay dividends in future years.

During the delegation’s five-day stay in Tokyo, Asako Hoshino and Shigeru Uehara (’06 MBA) hosted a Kellogg Executive Board for Asia (EBfA), with many attendees attending in-person and others attending virtually. Trustee Jianming Yu (’00 MBA), co-founder and managing partner of New Horizon Capital, was among those traveling to Tokyo for the meeting.

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