Interview: Thomas Iljic of CEA-Tech in Tokyo

Categorie(s) : Interviews, MINATEC, News

Published : 1 June 2012

“Japanese innovation is back, stronger than ever”

You’ve been representing Leti in Japan since 2007. What changes have you seen since Fukushima?
Manufacturing in the country basically stopped between March and September 2011 while companies were repairing and restructuring their plants. But things have definitely picked up since then, with sharply faster innovation cycles. The Japanese want to recover the ground lost to their competitors. And since electricity prices have shot up 17% in most of the country, there is a large focus on renewable energy.

Has this made it more difficult to promote CEA-Tech?
No, because we have a long-term vision. We have built up a network of 2,200 contacts at over 300 different companies. Some 200 people are expected to attend the next Leti Day on October 3, 2012, including professionals from Fujitsu, Hitachi, Nikon, Toyota, Nissan, and NEC. Also, MINATEC has a strong reputation in Japan; it served as a model for the Tsukuba Innovation Arena, a similar innovation campus.

Why did the CEA decide to open an office 10,000 km from Grenoble and work with Japanese companies?
We find that in terms of technology, the Japanese business climate is highly complementary to that in France and elsewhere in Europe. For instance, at this year’s Leti Day we will look at sensors that can be integrated into everyday objects like smartphones, and used for healthcare applications. This field is growing rapidly in Japan, and we need people here, locally, to earn companies’ trust and seal agreements. IMEC and Fraunhofer also have offices in Tokyo, which they opened several years ago.

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