Vol.8 No.2 2015

Research paper : Study of the top 70 NEDO Inside Products (M. YAMASHITA et al.)−83−Synthesiology - English edition Vol.8 No.2 (2015) series of R&D projects aiming for instant practical application, while experiencing various failures. The major issue was the funding source: How to eke out the cost for recycling. Since the vast majority of the public saw no value in the spending on waste processing, it required awareness-raising as well as technological breakthroughs. Under such circumstances, NEDO collected a myriad of information, whereby they could develop the strategies for technology development. This provided hints for subsequent development plans and for other R&D projects. As the result, the number of unsuccessful projects saw a sharp decline, and there were considerable benefits accrued to groups of developers and the parties directly involved (i.e., no redundancy in financial investment, schedule, and personnel). These are the findings from the corporate interviews.6 Future challenges in expanding NEDO Inside ProductsFrom the survey and the analyses of NEDO Inside Products, the following issues become evident, which need to be addressed for our future research to extend the scope of the products. Below is a summary of the discussions and possible solutions which we recognized in the course of this research.[17][18](1) Search for NEDO Inside Product candidatesIt has been over 30 years since the establishment of NEDO. For their long list of projects, our research was not necessarily conducted in an efficient way: Listing promising products and processes which could be of past NEDO project outcomes, then referring to literature, reports, the interviews with participants, and other sources. Above all, it seems that the use of questionnaire survey to confirm the current market status of all the project outcomes is the most comprehensive and efficient way to explore NEDO Inside Products. NEDO, in fact, carry out six-year follow-up studies of the projects, and further five/ten/20-year follow-up surveys are also possible. Furthermore, it is crucial for the government to make efforts to help the public see NEDO project outcomes by the construction of a database for achievement reports and the additional interviews with retired employees of the participant companies for instance.(2) Difficulty in gathering information on the old project outcomesAs a few of NEDO projects initiated back in the 1970s to 80s, it is extremely difficult to gather the information regarding the status of given project at the time, the process leading to the productʼs market release, and the overview of the technological progress. What we can do is to examine the current market’s views on the R&D topics of three decades ago. Having said this, we once again emphasize the need for the interviews with the key in the field and the people in charge of these projects, as well as a database – an extensive record of “R&D heritages.” These data will help us track where the current technologies stem from.[32]-[36](3) Rigidity in the evaluation of estimated salesBased on the estimated market size and future outlook, the questionnaire surveys were conducted in order to verify and correct these figures. However, we noticed individual differences in the view on “the scope of NEDO Inside Products.” If NEDO made the attempt to estimate the market scale themselves, for instance, they could possibly take advantage of the scope and methods of research. As in this research, the validity of the figures and findings must be ensured. It is thus recommended that the estimations and evaluations of benefits are made first of all, fair and square, and have external experts revise these figures and findings rather than the members actually managing given projects: Academics (e.g., project leaders or the chairs of academic societies) or the members of the industrial associations whose area of expertise is closely related to the projects may be best suited for such task.(4) Problems associated with quantifying the effects other than salesIn this study, NEDO Inside Products were narrowed down according to the most recent sales figures and the sales forecasts. NEDO project outcomes offer a wide variety of benefits, and some of them deserve greater credit. For example, we made the evaluations in the light of contribution to improved quality of living and public satisfaction. Nevertheless, it is tricky to evaluate such benefit in the same way as the net sales since the opinions vary by individual, and it requires us to seek for a new method that allows these qualities to be comparable.[18] In effect, NEDO Inside Products that are not amenable for quantitative evaluation can be presented qualitatively. However, when the efforts made by different fields and other companies are all aligned, resulting set of efforts (NEDO projects) becomes all-inclusive and a specific impact (effect/benefit) may become hardly noticeable. We need to discuss how to shed light on these products by comparing with past products in the same field and category.7 SummaryWe conducted a questionnaire survey and interviews with the NEDO project participants and the members of relevant industrial associations, in an attempt to select top 70 of NEDO Inside Products based on the significance of the product’s economic impact (i.e., sales figures and induced economic


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