East Asia Innovation gateway

Koudai-ii temple, JapanProject objectives

The growth of production facilities in China and East Asia is well recorded. What is less well known is that companies in the region are also developing their design and innovation capabilities, building on their technical manufacturing knowledge. Governments, as well as industry, are investing significantly in innovation in response to a perceived threat of production migrating to other, lower-cost regions of the world. These developments provide interesting opportunities and challenges for western firms with global markets and supply chains.


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Culture and design

Japan and China/Hong Kong are at different stages in the development of design and innovation. Each country has its own socio-economic and cultural context. The project will explore the influence of different national cultures on the approach to design. It will investigate how East-Asian designers are meeting the needs of western customers and how firms might best manage internationally distributed design.


Nagoya Institute of Technology, Nagoya, JapanGovernment support

Governments across the region are providing support for design and innovation in different ways. The project will look at each government's aspirations in relation to design, the support they are providing and the impact of their approach on design activities in their country. It will consider the implications of the findings for UK companies.


Links between design and other manufacturing functions

The project will investigate how companies consider other manufacturing functions during the design stage, the links that exist between them and the impact of performing the different activities across various geographical locations. Consideration will be given to the motivations behind the relocation of design and the likely impact this will have on UK companies in the future.



Following several months of Cambridge-based research the team of manufacturing engineering students and staff will make a two-week visit to China (Shenzhen and Hong Kong) and Japan (Nagoya) between 3-14 July 2006. Using the Institute for Manufacturing's excellent links within the region, the team will visit a selection of multinational companies, research centres and government bodies.


A draft itinerary for the Japan leg of the project has been compiled.



The detailed findings of the project will be communicated in two ways:

  • A comprehensive written report
  • An industrial seminar.

Further information

James Moultrie

MET Office

Institute for Manufacturing

Email: met-enquiries@eng.cam.ac.uk


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