On the morning of 26 July, NTU President Yang Pan-Chyr and NIMS President Sukekatsu Ushioda co-chaired the opening ceremony for the new joint research center at NTU’s College of Engineering. President Yang talked of how Taiwan’s Center of Strategic Materials Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART Center) had been set up in the hope of integrating materials science and engineering research in a single research center that would comprise top-flight researchers from NTU’s colleges of Engineering, Science, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Medicine, and the Center for Condensed Matter Sciences.
“Strategic materials” are those materials a country needs in order to survive and develop or the key raw and functional materials needed in times of emergency or for national defense. Taiwan has a severe lack of natural resources for industry, relying for the most part on imported raw materials. From the point of view of national security and a strategy for sustainable social development, the setting up of a strategic materials research center is clearly a matter of considerable importance in Taiwan’s current climate. To develop strategic materials and help raise the level of related industrial technology in Taiwan, NTU has collaborated with Japan’s National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) to jointly set up the SMART Center. The center will focus on developing the strategic materials needed for energy, biomedical, optical and nano technologies, conducting joint research initiatives, inviting visiting scholars and students, and organizing international conferences on materials and industry–university cooperation.
With more than 1000 personnel and a yearly research budget worth NT$7 billion, NIMS is the largest national materials center in Japan and one of the world’s leading materials research institutes. In recent years, in order to raise Taiwan’s visibility on the international stage, Taiwan’s National Science Council has been actively promoting the setting up of joint research centers in collaboration with renowned international research institutes, but these have mostly been set up with advanced European countries and the US, not with Japan. The new research center, jointly funded and set up at NTU, demonstrates that NTU’s materials science research has already obtained international recognition—in this field, NTU is already among the top 50 institutions in the world. The new SMART Center will help us to raise our standards. By bringing together outstanding researchers from a range of fields in a center that combines materials science and engineering research, NTU will create a powerful resource to attract international scholars and researchers.