RENKEI brand mark

Strategic partnership for research collaboration between universities in Japan and the UK

RENKEI is the Japanese word for ‘collaboration,’ and is an acronym for Research and Education Network for Knowledge Economy Initiatives.

Japan and the UK have a long history of partnership, and share common interests and concerns in the twenty-first century. The two economically driven countries are among the world’s very best producers of cutting-edge research. As such, enormous potential exists for the UK and Japan to learn from each other. They face similar demographic, political, social and industrial challenges, and thus are ideal partners in meeting these demands with innovative solutions. 

RENKEI is a partnership between 12 universities in Japan and the UK, aiming to further knowledge exchange and research collaboration between institutions and individuals. This group of leading research intensive universities in the two countries will also develop collaborations with industry, governments and civil society to address global research challenges.

Main research themes

Climate change

RENKEI priorities “climate change” and “health” as main research themes. Both areas were specified in the Japan-UK Joint Declaration on Prosperity Cooperation released in September 2017 when Prime Minister Theresa May visited Japan. Researchers from 12 member universities will meet and develop networks for creating new joint research.

RENKEI member universities


Kyoto University
Kyushu University
Nagoya University
Osaka University
Ritsumeikan University
Tohoku University


University of Edinburgh
University of Leeds
University of Liverpool
Newcastle University
University of Nottingham
University of Southampton

Secretariat: British Council

Activities 2012 - 2018

The origin of RENKEI dates back to 2010 when the then Foreign Secretary William Hague visited Japan and both governments announced that the British and Japanese university leaders will hold dialogues to share best practices in internationalisation and would promote student and researcher exchanges. In that year, the 2nd Japan-UK Higher Education Symposium was held at Kyushu University in Japan and university leaders identified a need for a new model of international university-industry partnerships as action points. At this symposium, both UK and Japanese universities were openly invited to come forward to form a working group. 12 universities responded to this call and join an initiative to develop a new strategic bilateral partnership. 

RENKEI was formally launched on 13 March 2012, with the British Council, Japan, as its secretariat, to meet the challenges of living in a complex, rapidly changing and globalized twenty-first century. Collaboration across sectors was becoming ever more important as the result of economic and societal changes. Through RENKEI projects, member universities in Japan and the UK were committed to exploring how they can develop fresh and innovative engagement with third-party organisations such as industries, governments and social enterprises to address common societal challenges. 

Over the last 6 years between 2012 and 2017, RENKEI served as an effective platform for the members to develop close networks especially through its annual face-to-face Steering Committee meetings. Such networks also led to strong partnerships between individual institutions. Member universities jointly organised altogether 12 workshops in the form of summer or spring schools, mainly targeting early career researchers including PhD students. More than 231 researchers from 12 member universities participated in the workshops organised by RENKEI working groups and 90 external bodies were engaged. The workshops achieved excellent feedback both from participants and organisers.

RENKEI Activities for this year

RENKEI aims to develop a new platform for collaborations among researchers from the 12 member universities and with industry, government, and wider stakeholders in Japan and the UK, to address some of the most pressing common challenges in climate change and health.

List of latest activities