Bilateral Technology Transfer using the Internet
Changing international economic scenarios have seen a drastic shift of investment flows from advanced countries to developing countries. Such a scenario has been brought about by two main factors:
Several other sub-factors, such as the breaking of traditional subcontracting links that existed between large corporations and small/medium enterprises, erosion of the R&D base for SMEs that was usually provided by large corporations, excess liquid capital with financial institutions etc. have also been responsible.
This increasing shift of the global industrial enterprises towards emerging economies has self-reinforcing advantages for each other. On the part of advanced economies, these include reduced production and other costs, highly trained local professionals, larger market base for their products. SMEs have also been able to regain their R&D linkages with research institutions and firms located in emerging economies.
For the emerging economies, this has meant access to a quantum leap in financial resources available for development and production, better technologies, investment in essential/critical sectors such as power, transportation and infrastructure etc.
This trend is well known and widely discussed in the current media and literature. However, one critical support system that has emerged as a result of this globalization is that of information. Sharing and dissemination of information on transfer of technologies between small and medium enterprises in Japan and other developing countries has been an important aspect of improving bilateral relations and accelerating the process of technology-based investments and upgradation.
During the early 80s, the author was involved in the setting up of three bilateral networks between Japan and India, Venezuela and Ghana, The respective embassies in Tokyo and a number of Japanese institutions contributed to the setting up of the networks. Exprerience from setting up these networks were drawn on to develop this write-up. The networks set up were:
II. Rationale for JITNet, JVNet and JASANet
The whole range efforts behind the development of JITNet, JVNet, JASANet can be categorized into two parts: Information Collection and Information Search and Dissemination.
Information collection has been effected through two main sources -
Information search and dissemination has involved five distinct aspects: Intermediaries, means of dissemination, translation, technology exhibitions and financing.
III. JITNet, JVNet and JASANet Initiatives
With this in mind, the JITNet, JVNet and JASANet initiatives were set up on the internet as a central location which would contain information on Japan and the three remote-countries (India, Venezuela and South Africa), targeted towards businessmen, technologists, researchers, academicians and other individuals. The networks are envisaged to serve two main functions:
1. Technology information dissemination in a one-to-many mode.
For  above, the networks have a homepage on the World Wide Web that contain a wide range of data relating to industrial policy, licensing, duty structure, tax system, industrial standards, patent laws etc. This is divided into three parts, the homepage itself, the Japan Page and the remote-country page.
a. The homepage contains an introduction to the network, conceptual frameworks, contact addresses for further information, future plans etc.
b. The Japan and remote-country pages contain country specific information. Documents, government agencies, national research institutes, universities, corporate and business entities, and other information sources have been listed. The menu items within the network may present the user with a file from within JITNet, JVNet or JASANet, or may interactively be linked to a remote site on the internet.
For , an emailing address has been set up so that a company can post a query to the address which is automatically forwarded to all individuals/companies subscribed to the respective network. The email address is also intended for companies to post details of technologies offered or requested by them. A growing database of offers/requests has been developed especially in JITNet.
IV. Online Technology Transfer Process in JITNet
A company that is offering or requesting a particular technology, has to fill up a form that is available online (see box below). The completed contents of the form is then used in two ways - sent over the internet to members subscribed to the JITNet mailing list, and added to a database that can be searched for keywords.
While the necessary environment is created for making a technology offer or request, no active point-to-point link is created by the service. This system, therefore, assumes an active participation both on the part of the technology creater and the technology user to disseminate and seek out information that is made available on the JITNet Mailing List.
A certain degree of support is provided by Govt. of India's Indian National Scientific Documentation Centre (INSDOC) that collates technology output from more than 40 government research labs under the Council of Sicentific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and makes it available on JITNet as "Technology Updates". Collaborations and link-ups with the Indian Chambers of Commerce, and other private industry associations have also created a user base for the technology information.
Abstracted (and expanded) from "Japan and Bilateral Cooperation on the Internet: The JITNet, JVNet and JASANet Initiatives" Paper presented at the Multinational Symposium on Management of Technology and Innovation at Hangzhou, China, 24-26 October 1995.