Strategic Partnership with Kyoto University

Towards a Sustainable, Inclusive and Digital Society

The University of Zurich and Kyoto University are entering into a strategic partnership. Japan’s second-oldest university and UZH are stepping up their cooperation in research and teaching and increasing efforts to support junior academics.

Marita Fuchs

Professor Juichi Yamagiwa, President of Kyoto University
Professor Juichi Yamagiwa, President of Kyoto University, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to form a joint strategic partnership in Kyoto. (Image used with permission)


Kyoto University (KU) and the University of Zurich have officially established a strategic partnership effective 27 July 2020. With this, the University of Zurich has achieved its strategic goal of developing a comprehensive and deep partnership with a university in Asia. “With its strong focus on innovation and digitalization, Asia plays a key role in university education, science and technology,” says Gabriele Siegert, President ad interim.

Switzerland and Japan both rank among the best countries worldwide for innovation and have ranked among the top 10 when it comes to publishing medical patents for years. Moreover, both have long had strong bonds in business, education and science, and share an affinity for high-tech products, durability and long-term collaboration. “By entering into a strategic partnership with Kyoto University, we can join forces with one of the best research universities in the Far East,” says Christian Schwarzenegger, Vice President Faculty Affairs and Scientific Information. And this cooperation has already yielded tangible results, an analysis showns that joint publications emerging from existing research collaborations between KU and UZH have had a great impact.

Prof. Christian Schwarzenegger, Vice President of the University of Zurich
At the same time Christian Schwarzenegger, Vice President of the University of Zurich, signed the Memorandum of Understanding to form a joint strategic partnership. (Image used with permission)

Intensive groundwork and future projects

The new strategic partnership is based on intensive groundwork and long-standing cooperation. For example, the Institute for Regenerative Medicine (IREM) of UZH and the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA) of KU have had close ties for many years. In addition, a number of research workshops and symposiums have also already been held in the other fields of medicine, the natural sciences and the humanities.

The strategic partnership aims to enhance current cooperations and expand the range of new collaborative activities. One of the focus areas will be Society 5.0. This term was coined by the Japanese government and envisions a “super-smart” society that is sustainable, inclusive and powered by digital technologies. The main goals of Society 5.0 include improving our way of life and increasing the quality of our lives, both of which are topics that UZH considers crucial, too.

Establishing strategic partnerships is one of the University’s declared priorities in the UZH internationalization strategy. “Kyoto University was our preferred choice,” says Christian Schwarzenegger. The ties between KU and UZH go back 40 years, when both university’s law faculties began working together. Subsequent cooperations also developed in medicine, biology and the humanities. Both Kyoto and Zurich are places where tradition meets modernity. “They are places of education and inspiration,” says Schwarzenegger.

Kyoto University

Around 23,000 students study at Kyoto University (KU). Founded in 1897, KU is the second-oldest of Japan’s national universities and has so far produced 11 Nobel laureates.

Marita Fuchs, Editor UZH News; English translation by Philip Isler, UZH Communications

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