New Japanese university office in Brussels, EU referendum discussions and TDM and copyright

Waseda University is a private university based in Tokyo, Japan. Waseda hosts the EU institute in Japan and earlier this month, the ULB opened its Asian office in Waseda as well. The opening of the office coincides with 150 years of Belgium-Japan diplomatic relations and also 20 years of collaboration between Waseda and ULB (Universite Libre de Bruxelles). The aim of the office is academic exchanges and international partnerships both with Belgium but also with other European countries as Waseda’s focus will not just be with Belgian universities but with other European universities as well. The head of the office is Dr Frederick Ponjaert, who is also a researchers at ULB. The opening ceremony was a very formal affair, with speeches from the President of Waseda University Prof. Kaoru Kamata, and the Rector of ULB Prof. Didier Viviers and Princess Astrid of Belgium unveiled the office plaque. Christina Russo, Director of Internationalisation in DG Research and Innovation, European Commission, gave some interesting statistics on Japanese participation in Horizon 2020. There are currently 4 co-ordinated calls between EU and Japan, in ICT, health and aeronautics. In FP7, there were 5 co-ordinated calls between EU and Japan, in ICT, aeronautics, energy and materials and with the opening of the Waseda University Brussels Office, it’s a clear sign that Japanese researchers are keen to engage with the EU.

Brussels is host to a large number of representative offices, of which there is a fairly modest UK presence. I was invited to attend an informal meeting with the other UK Brussels offices, where the topic of conversation was the UK’s EU referendum in June. As Brits is Brussels, we are continually asked our opinion of this debate and most of the time the person asking us the question is more informed than we are. The meeting was useful to find out what other local authorities are doing with regards to the EU referendum (not much) and also to hear from offices representing Norway, Switzerland and Turkey, countries that are not EU Member States, a status that the UK may find itself very soon.

And finally I attended an event in the European Parliament on “Demystifying Text and Data Mining (TDM) in a copyright context”, co-hosted by Catherine Stihler, MEP for Scotland. I when Ben White, Head of Intellectual Property, the British Library, who is very involved in this area. The event saw stakeholder groups representing start-up companies that use TDM to analyse complex data, journalistic who use TDM to add quantitative analysis to their reporting and academics who use TDM for research purposes. Key outputs for me were that TDM is a form of data analysis; the UK has an exemption on TDM for research purposes, however currently it’s still not possible to do that research in the UK as the European courts are being involved as well; and the Commission will publish a proposal on copyright in September, which will be based on its “Vision of a modern EU copyright framework” that was published in December 2015.

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