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April 30, 2015

A new hub for collaboration in Kobe

The new IIB on Kobe's Port Island

Kobe's Port Island has a new landmark—RIKEN's Integrated Innovation Building, which lies along the Port Liner line at the heart of the Kobe Biomedical Innovation Cluster. The building, with its striking white façade, will be a new way for RIKEN to use the fruits of its research to contribute to society.

The facility will house laboratories doing collaborative research either inside RIKEN or with companies outside, and it will also be made available to researchers or firms that will be conducting research based on RIKEN’s facilities. To qualify, a laboratory must be collaborative in some way, so the work can involve several laboratories within RIKEN working on a common theme or an outside firm working with RIKEN to overcome some challenge. It is also open to use by RIKEN ventures, as this is a form of partnership by RIKEN labs with outside firms.

In addition to five floors dedicated to both wet and dry laboratories, the facility has a spacious 120—room seminar room that will be used principally for events inside RIKEN, including those involving research done at the new center. The most striking element of the building is its white façade, which faces the Port Liner line. The outer wall is like a white cutout, in a pattern that the architect chose to emulate epithelial cells.

The first laboratory is expected to move into the building in July. Users are still being sought, and applications for use will be screened by a committee. There is no cost for using the space, but the laboratories will be expected to pay for the utility bills for their own labs.

Akihiro Fujita, head of the RIKEN Research Cluster for Innovation, says, "It is exciting to see this new facility completed, as it represents a novel experiment for making the best possible use of our network of knowledge in collaboration with our industrial partners. We will endeavor to make the facility into a place where new discoveries made at RIKEN can be put to the service of society."