Published on 6 February 2018
Université de Kyoto

Building on the relations established by its member institutions, such as ENS Paris-Saclay and CEA (Neurospin), Université Paris-Saclay and Kyoto University signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 31 January 2018.

Kyoto University, one of the very first universities in Japan

Founded in 1897, Kyoto University is one of the most important Japanese universities turned towards research – it was named "Designated University - DNU", by the MEXT in 2017, along with Tokyo University and Tokohu University. Ranking 35th among the ARWU 2017 world-class universities, and second of the country, Kyoto University currently welcomes 22,400 students (8% of internationals). Particularly strong in medicine, astrophysics, biochemistry and genetics, Kyoto University boasts among its alumni 9 Nobel prizes, 2 Fields medallists, 2 prime ministers and a president of Taiwan. Benefitting from the Top Global Programme*, with over 150 international agreements signed with universities, the international outreach of the university can be seen in the area of research. With representation offices in the United Kingdom, Germany and Thailand, the university runs 48 research sites throughout the world, including 30 in Asia, 3 on the American continent and 15 in Africa. Among its noteworthy researchers, Prof. Susumu Kitagawa, director of the iCeMS laboratory (Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences) was, according to Clarivate Analytics, the most cited researcher in 2017 in the field of chemistry.

ENS Paris-Saclay and Neurospin (CEA) – key partners of Kyoto University

There are many collaborations between Kyoto University and the member institutions of Université Paris-Saclay, such as Université Paris-Sud, Université Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, and more specifically ENS Paris-Saclay and Neurospin (CEA). Among active structured actions, there are 2 International Associated Laboratories (LIA – Laboratoire International Associé) and 1 International Project for Scientific Cooperation (PICS – Projet International de Coopération Scientifique), in particular in the fields of mathematics, nuclear energy and photovoltaics.

Created in January of last year, the Nano-Synergetics International Associated Laboratory (“Photo-active Nanomaterials with Cooperative and Synergetic Responses”) carried by ENS Paris-Saclay and directed by Keitaro Nakatani, its vice-president of research, investigates molecular systems capable of switching between two states, mainly by light stimulus (photochromism). The French and Japanese researchers within Nano-Synergetics have significant records of collaborations and were members of the International Research Group on “PHoto-switchableE orgaNIC molecular systems & deviceS (IRG PHENICS, or GDRI PHENICS in French, 2008-2015) supported by CNRS. Furthermore, ENS Paris-Saclay has signed a cooperation agreement with Kyoto University on joint research projects and student exchange.

There is also ongoing scientific cooperation with Kyoto University in Humanities and Social Sciences within the framework of the international network of the automobile GERPISA (Groupe d'Etude et de Recherche Permanent sur l'Industrie et les Salariés de l'Automobile). Initially a French network made up of researchers in economics, management, history, and sociology, all studying the automobile industry, it was founded by Michel Freyssenet (sociologist at the CNRS) and Patrick Fridenson (historian at the EHESS), and was converted into an international network in 1992 so as to implement the first international research programme.

Furthermore, strong ties, as well as a MOU, have linked Neurospin and Kyoto University for over 10 years. Denis Le Bihan, Founding Director of Neurospin (renowned neuroimaging research centre home to the most powerful magnet in the world, the 11,7 Tesla) has been visiting professor since 2015 at the Graduate School of Medicine’s Human Brain Research Center of Kyoto University. Several projects are under way, including a WPI project (World Premier International Research Center Initiative) – in neuroimaging.

An agreement to reinforce research actions and student exchange

Beyond these structured actions, the signature of this Memorandum of Understanding also follows on from many exchanges between Kyoto University with Université Paris-Saclay and ENS Paris-Saclay, with the visit in April 2016 of the President of ENS Paris-Saclay, Pierre-Paul Zalio, followed by that of the president of Université Paris-Saclay in May 2017, Gilles Bloch, along with Prof. Nakatani. This agreement will reinforce existing research actions with Kyoto University, intensify student and doctoral exchange, and open perspectives for partnerships to all UPSaclay members. Doctoral co-tutelles are already being considered.


Gilles Bloch, Président de l'Université Paris-Saclay et Juichi Yamagiwa, Président de l'Université de Kyoto

Gilles Bloch, President of Université Paris-Saclay and Juichi Yamagiwa, President of Kyoto University, on the occasion of the mission to Japan in May 2017
Keitaro Nakatani, Vice-Président Recherche à l'ENS Paris-Saclay et Juichi Yamagiwa, Président de l'Université de Kyoto lors de la signature du MOU avec l'ENS Paris-Saclay en mai 2017
Keitaro Nakatani, Vice-President of Research at ENS Paris-Saclay and Juichi Yamagiwa, President of Kyoto University, on the occasion of the signature of the cooperation agreement with ENS Paris-Saclay in May 2017

* Top Global Programme: National Programme aiming at fostering the internationalisation of Japanese universities and having them rank among the top 100 best world-class universities