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Overview

RIKEN is Japan’s largest and most comprehensive research organization for basic and applied science and a world leader in a diverse array of scientific disciplines.

For nearly a century since its foundation in 1917, RIKEN has fostered pioneering, innovative research in fields spanning the entire range of the natural sciences, from developmental biology and neuroscience to quantum physics and computer science.

Today, RIKEN encompasses a network of world-class research centers across Japan, with main campuses in Wako, Tsukuba, Yokohama, Kobe and Harima offering state-of-the-art facilities that rank among the best in the world. This high-quality, high-performance research environment, combined with a uniquely bottom-up approach to scientific innovation, has enabled RIKEN to foster an environment in which researchers are able to thrive.

RIKEN is also an international institute, with more than 600 non-Japanese research personnel from around the world.

Research structure

Central to RIKEN’s success as a top-class research hub is the collaboration and support between its many centers, laboratories and state-of-the-art research facilities, distributed over many different locations within and outside of Japan.

RIKEN’s activities can be divided into four main categories: Strategic Research Centers, Research Infrastructure Centers, the Cluster for Pioneering Research and the Cluster for Science, Technology and Innovation Hub. These four groupings interact within an integrated research system, bringing together pioneering science and top-class research facilities to meet national and social needs, and are further enhanced by active collaborations both within and outside RIKEN, and Japan.

For more detailed information on the organizational structure of the centers, please see this page with detailed PDFs. For more information on the history of the organization, please see the RIKEN Story.

RIKEN's Research System

Figure showing the structure of RIKEN's research

Strategic Research Centers

Image of lab workers

RIKEN’s Strategic Research activities aim to further fields in science and technology, focusing on the life sciences and green innovation. Fields of particular interest are developmental biology, brain science, quantitative biology and the medical sciences, with the Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research, Center for Brain Science, and the Center for Integrative Medical Sciences. RIKEN is also focusing its activities on advances in materials science, photonics, plant science, and chemical biology. The Center for Emergent Matter Science, Center for Advanced Photonics and Center for Sustainable Resource Science are dedicated to research in these key fields.

Research Infrastructure Centers

Image of RIKEN Kobe Branch

RIKEN is well-known around the world for its world-class research infrastructure: the synchrotron radiation facility SPring-8 and X-ray electron laser SACLA at the SPring-8 Center; the supercomputer ‘K computer’ at the Center for Computational Science; the radioactive isotope beam factory RIBF at the Nishina Center for Accelerator-Based Science; and the BioResource Research Center. These facilities support RIKEN’s wider research efforts and enable researchers from around the world to conduct advanced scientific investigation at RIKEN.

Cluster for Pioneering Research

To stay at the forefront of emerging fields of research RIKEN offers researchers the possibility to set up their own laboratory and carry out their own research within RIKEN. Scientists in the Chief Scientist Laboratories and All-RIKEN Projects carry out pioneering research in emerging fields of science and technology.

Cluster for Science, Technology and Innovation Hub

Image of Nishina Haruka flower

Innovation is supported at RIKEN by the Cluster for Science, Technology and Innovation Hub, which supports the exchange of knowledge and discoveries between individual RIKEN researchers, companies and other institutions, to ensure that knowledge and know-how generated at RIKEN contribute to the global society. The RIKEN Innovation Center is an office in the Cluster, which manages the Baton Zone programs - programs supporting the transfer of RIKEN’s scientific achievements into commercial products through partnerships with private companies.

The Program for Drug Discovery and Medical Technology Platforms, Preventive Medicine and Diagnosis Innovation Program, Compass to Health Life Research Complex Program, and Medical Sciences Innovation Hub Program ensure that RIKEN focuses the full force of its diverse and inter-disciplinary capabilities on challenges such as new green technology for a more sustainable society, drug and diagnosis discovery and the development of new medical technology.

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