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Date of Issue:2/February/2004

Industrial Clusters in Miyazaki Prefecture Exploit Local Resources and Characteristics

Yasumichi Tanaka
Assistant Director
Industry Promotion Division
Commerce, Industry, Tourism and Labor Department
Miyazaki Prefectural Government

Efforts are being made in Miyazaki Prefecture to develop industrial clusters as a means of stimulating the local economy, with a focus on information communications and biotechnology industry clusters that exploit local resources and characteristics.

1. Industrial clusters
Industrial agglomerations, or eclustersf, have become a key plank in Japanfs industrial revitalization policy as a means of dealing with the possible hollowing-out of industry following the shift abroad of many manufacturing industries. As many of you will already know, an industrial cluster describes the geographical concentration of companies, service providers, universities, industrial groups and other related organizations in a particular area, much like a cluster of grapes, with the resulting cooperation and competition creating new industries, businesses and products. This concept was the brainchild of Harvard University Professor Michael Porter.

Faced with a protracted economic slump, Japan needs to revitalize local economies through the creation of new industries and companies that will open up promising new growth areas. As of 2001, a national-level plan has been instituted whereby industry-government-academia networks are developed among companies, universities, public research institutes and support institutions to supplement shortfalls in technology, management information, sales channels and other management resources. Accompanied by the effective input of support measures, these steps are intended to develop industrial clusters that also foster new business.

2. Industrial clusters in Miyazaki Prefecture
As of 2003, Miyazaki Prefecture has launched its own scheme to develop industrial clusters in the biotechnology and information communications industry (the Food and Health Biotechnology Cluster and the IT Resort Cluster) that take advantage of local characteristics and resources.

Blessed with a moderate climate and abundant natural reserves, Miyazaki Prefecture is a treasure-house of agricultural, forestry and fishing resources, and has developed a strong brewing industry (particularly shochu) as well as innovation technology. Recently, Miyazaki University has been spearheading research linking medical care and food products, and Miyazaki Prefecturefs biomedical theme was adopted last October by the Japan Science and Technology Agency as a region-wide joint research project, signaling the launch of a large-scale, five-year project with an investment of more than 1.2 billion yen. The Food and Health Biotechnology Cluster will use conventional biotechnology as well as these new biotechnologies, seeking to develop a cluster of food and agriculture biotechnology industries and medical biotechnology industries while also advancing into the biomass and environmental biotechnology industries.

Miyazaki Prefecture is developing information communications infrastructure, including the Miyazaki Information Highway 21, which uses fiberoptic cable to link all town, city and village public offices within the prefecture. Information-related companies are setting up business in Miyazaki, which as one of Japanfs top resort areas, is also known for its fine rest and recreation environment. The Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications has designated Miyazaki as an IT business model zone, and as a special structural reform zone, the Resort Miyazaki IT Zone has also received government authorization, setting in place the conditions for information-related industries to agglomerate. Partnerships are developing between universities and companies, with university-launched venture companies also emerging in the semiconductor field. The IT Resort Cluster will further promote this cluster of information-related companies, while also looking to create new IT businesses adapted to the age of ubiquitous communications.

3. Future steps
To promote industrial clusters in these two areas, the Miyazaki Industrial Cluster Promotion Council was established in July last year among business, government and academia, with the participation of around 190 companies and researchers. The council is spearheading consideration of joint research projects and information provision. In December, as part of the councilfs activities, key figures in the industrial cluster field were invited from the United States, Canada, France, Germany and Japan itself to participate in an international symposium on the significance of industrial cluster formation in regional areas and means of promoting such clusters. Organized with the cooperation of the Institute for International Studies and Training(IIST), the symposium attracted a far greater audience than expected, while the panelists all offered thought-provoking comments. The symposium affirmed the strong possibilities for industrial cluster formation in local cities such as in Miyazaki Prefecture.

Miyazaki government authorities plan to channel assistance into joint research undertaken by the council and other bodies, as well as promoting information provision, developing human resources, and assisting the Miyazaki TLO, which is working on university technology transfers. Through these efforts, the government plans to create 500 Miyazaki-born venture companies and companies operating in new business fields over the
coming decade, producing Miyazakifs own industrial clusters.

Outline of Miyazaki Industrial Cluster Formation : Figure(PDF 53KB)

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