2019 – ASPIRE Forum

ASPIRE Forum 2019

Date: July 8–12, 2019

Venue: Tokyo Institute of Technology, Ookayama Campus, Tokyo, Japan

Theme: Better Living: Innovations and Technologies to Improve Lives


July 8–12 Student Workshop
July 11 9:00-12:00 ASPIRE Symposium
14:00-17:30 Vice Presidents and Senior Staff Meeting
July 13 9:00-12:30 Student Presentations

ASPIRE Forum 2019 Report


Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) chaired and hosted ASPIRE Forum 2019 from July 8 to 12 with the theme “Better Living: Innovations and Technologies to Improve Lives.” Vice Presidents, senior staff, faculty members and students from member universities were welcomed at Tokyo Tech Ookayama Campus. The Forum comprised a Student Workshop, a Symposium, and the Vice Presidents and Senior Staff Meeting.

ASPIRE Forum 2019 participants

Student Workshop, Part 1

The Student Workshop kicked off with an orientation and welcome dinner on July 8. The following day, students attended lectures delivered by Tokyo Tech faculty members. Associate Professor Takuji Yamada of the School of Life Science and Technology spoke on “Microbiome shift for colorectal cancer progression.” Professor Koichi Yasuda of the School of Environment and Society described the history of industrial design from the perspective of bathroom design, and Professor Yukio Takeda of the School of Engineering shared ideas on future coexistence of human and robots.

On July 10, workshop participants participated in site visits around Tokyo, where they received hands-on access to the latest technologies related to Better Living. At NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories, students observed 8K Super Hi-Vision camera quality and experienced a 3D imaging system that made it to possible for them to view 3D images without using special glasses.

Touring Panasonic Center Tokyo, they learned about the digital art process and design of pictograms designed to support the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. They also observed exhibits of the company's latest technology for the home, including “smart” household appliances. At the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, or AIST, Student Workshop participants learned about R&D on prosthetics for competitive sports and examined technologies to prevent household accidents involving infants and the elderly.

Scenes from ASPIRE Student Workshop


On July 11, Student Workshop participants joined the ASPIRE League member university delegations at the ASPIRE Symposium. Researchers from member universities shared selected research related to Better Living. Lectures included “Brain Machine Interface” by Professor Yasuharu Koike of Tokyo Tech; “Learning from Nature: Principle and Application of Structural Colors” by Professor Shin-Hyun Kim of KAIST, and “Key components in applicable autonomous driving for logistics” by Professor Ming Liu of HKUST.

In addition, Professor Takafumi Ueno of Tokyo Tech shared an update on the joint research project funded by the ASPIRE League Research Grant (Type1). Professor Ueno reported on collaboration with co-researchers from Tsinghua University,HKUST,KAIST,and NTU to create functional designs of protein cages for sustainable bionano-materials. This technology is intended to provide the basis for new methods in drug delivery and imaging.

Student Workshop, Part 2

Drawing on their own research backgrounds and analyzing information obtained through the lectures, site visits, and ASPIRE Symposium, Student Workshop participants worked in five groups to develop proposals on three sub-themes:

  •   ● A “Universal Washroom” that promotes Better Living by incorporating concepts of affordance and care for the socially vulnerable
  •   ● A business model that uses currently available advanced technology related to microbiome study
  •   ● The roles robots and robotic technology can play to ensure Better Living for the socially vulnerable, looking ahead to the year 2040

Each student group presented its proposal on the morning of July 12. The Vice Presidents, acting as judges, commented that they were very impressed by the presentations and recognized participating students with a Best Presenter award and a Best Group Presentation award. Ms. Seanglidet Yean from NTU and Ms. Pei-Yu Wu from Chalmers University each received the award for Best Presenter. The Best Group Presentation award was presented to the group that proposed a highly functional design for a hygienic, collapsible, portable washroom to support a diverse society. The presentation was based on students' analysis of various problems with standard portable toilets, such hygiene, functionality, design, and difficulty in transportation.

Vice Presidents and Senior Staff Meeting

The Chairman of the ASPIRE League in 2019 and 2020, Tokyo Tech Executive Vice President Mizumoto, welcomed vice presidents and senior staff to the ASPIRE League Vice Presidents and Senior Staff Meeting, also held on July 11.

Following a welcome address, new ASPIRE League Secretariat member Professor Hidetoshi Sekiguchi (formerly Tokyo Tech Vice President for International Affairs and Senior Staff representative in Tokyo Tech's ASPIRE League delegation) introduced himself to attendees. He invited Mr. Toku Hirasawa of the ASPIRE League Secretariat to report on the League's activities for the period July 2018–July 2019.

Vice Presidents from each member university then reported on their respective universities' activities related to ASPIRE League and highlighted recent achievements of their universities.

Following these presentations, meeting attendees discussed a range of topics on the agenda, including research collaboration, educational programs, membership and collaboration with IDEA League.

Attendees also discussed the newly-launched ASPIRE League Partnership Seed Fund, under which each participating member university provides grant funding to its own researcher(s) involved in selected projects. HKUST reported that a total of 24 applications had been received. Of these, one application that was disqualified. The vice presidents and senior staff discussed the accepted proposals and selected projects to be supported.

Closing the meeting, ASPIRE League Chairperson Mizumoto thanked participants for their cooperation. He stated that Tokyo Tech looked forward to hosting the next ASPIRE Forum in June 2020.

Delegates from member universities


Special lecture to celebrate the League's 10th anniversary

On July 12, Professor Yuan Si, Chairperson of the Tsinghua University Council and Chairperson of ASPIRE League for 2013–2014, gave a special lecture to celebrate the League's 10th anniversary. Professor Si described the history of the League in the context of rising Asia and global challenges, highlighting the ASPIRE League's focus on sustainable development in the years before the adoption of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.
He highlighted how the League's annual research symposia, collaborative research projects, and student activities, such as the Student Workshop and Undergraduate Research Academy, contribute to the realization of a sustainable world through innovations in science and technology.
He encouraged member university delegations' members to “continue to aspire” as a League and to work together toward shared goals in the consortium's next decade.

Prof. Yuan Si of Tsinghua University



On the tenth anniversary of the founding of the ASPIRE League, ASPIRE Forum 2019 brought together Vice Presidents, senior staff, faculty members and students of its member universities for a fruitful week of interaction that fostered new collaborations, insightful discussions, and the strengthening of bonds between the member universities. Participants in the Student Workshop deepened their knowledge with regard to the overarching theme of “Better Living”, and developed valuable networks across different nationalities and cultures. The Symposium provided a venue for researchers from member universities to share their research findings with each other as well as with students, while the Vice Presidents and Senior Staff Meeting provided a platform to share the latest developments and deepen ties among member universities.