Program of the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)
On October 25, 2019, a research group led by Dr. Yoichi Matsuyama, Associate Research Professor at the Perceptual Computing Laboratory (Professor Tetsunori Kobayashi, Director) of the Green Computing System (GCS) Research Organization at Waseda University was selected from among 77 applicants for the “Program for Creating Start-ups from Advanced Research and Technology” (START) of the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). This is the first time in three years that Waseda University has received such a grant.
The title of the project is “Commercialization of Media Services Utilizing Socially-Smart Conversational AI,” and it aims to develop a fundamental, socially-smart conversational AI media platform to establish a large-scale conversational content distribution ecosystem. Dr. Matsuyama obtained his Ph.D. in computer science from the Graduate School of Fundamental Science and Engineering at Waseda University in 2014 and worked for four and a half years as a postdoctoral fellow (special faculty) at Carnegie Mellon University, where he has led various research and development projects on conversational AI such as the Socially-Aware Robot Assistant (SARA), an official virtual assistant at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos. In 2019, he was appointed as an Associate Research Professor at Waseda University. The main projects of his research group include SCHEMA, a multiparty conversation facilitation robot (his own doctoral research) and NDS, a spoken dialogue system enabling seamless news information acquisition and consumption (doctoral research of Dr. Hiroaki Takatsu, a junior researcher at the GCS Organization). The technical seeds of the social conversational AI developed through these projects will be the foundation of the new information media services.
In addition to researchers and students in the research group, a team of international and interdisciplinary members, such as engineers and designers with ties to Carnegie Mellon University, are involved in the project. Dr. Matsuyama said, “Conversationally smart media will become increasingly important as an interface between humans and AI in our society. Today’s chatbots and smart speakers are just the beginning of this evolution. While scientifically observing conversational phenomena, we will invest all our resources in the development of core components of conversational AI and propose highly natural and affine conversational experiences with AI through key applications.”
JST’s START program was designed to fund startups that leverage the commercialization expertise of “Business Promoters.” Starting from the pre-startup stage of ventures originating in research institutions, this program develops business and intellectual property strategies geared towards commercial markets. WERU Investment Co., Ltd. (Tadashi Takiguchi, President and CEO) serves as the Business Promoter of the project. In addition, this project is already supported by Honda R&D Co., Ltd. (Hiroshi Honda, Automobile Center Division), Naigai Pressclipping Bureau, Ltd. (Ryota Ando, Cross Media Strategy Department), Sony Startup Acceleration Program (Shinji Odajima, Deputy Director of Startup Acceleration Division, Sony Corporation) to build an ecosystem of research and development and for human resource acquisition in Japan and overseas.
Waseda University champions a mission of social value creation through open innovation as the third role of the university, along with education and research. Through this project, Waseda University will strive to further improve its research and social contributions.
List of projects selected by the Japan Science and Technology Agency, “Program for Creating STart-ups from Advanced Research and Technology (START)“ for FY2019.
Yoichi Matsuyama [email protected]
Associate Research Professor
Perceptual Computing Laboratory
Green Computing System Research Organization (GCS)