Nobel Prizes have a way of making people proud, especially an alum of the university where its research was recognized and a former student of a Nobel professor.

So on Tuesday, Tomohisa Koyama, the executive director of Nagoya University’s Technology Partnership office in Morrisville, was one very happy man.

“It is huge,” Koyama says of the 2014 Nobel Prize for Physics that was shared by two Nagoya professors and a Japanese-American researcher for invention of blue LED lights.

“I believe that it will inspire all NU faculty and [principal investigators] toward further effort in their research and that all the 17,000 students are more proud of Nagoya University,” he adds.

“It also enhance Nagoya University’s world reputation.”


Nagoya already is widely known if not necessarily so in the Triangle where it opened an office in 2008. The university has produced six Nobel winners now in a mere 13 years.

Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano of Nagoya and naturalized U.S. citizen Shuji Nakamura were the winners. But Nagoya University also could win, given the recognition and additional respect now assured for its research efforts.

“This will surely increase our reputation and will be part of the proof of our research excellence,” Koyama explains. “With this proof, I believe we can reach to more U.S. counterparts in industry and academia.”

A Personal Connection

While neither of the Nobel winners has visited Nagoya’s RTP outpost and their work is not part of Nagoya’s efforts in the Triangle, Koyama has a personal link at least.

“Yes, definitely,” he replies when asked if the Nobel selection inspires him.

“Personally, I graduated from Nagoya University long time ago and took Dr. Akasaki’s class in my junior year. I am very honored to be able to have had an intersection with Dr. Akasaki.”

Koyama and his team work persistently to strike business deals and partnerships in the U.S.

“Unfortunately, no,” he replies when asked if Nagoya does any work with Durham-based Cree, a global leader in LEDs.

Making Deals

But Nagoya University does have a number of successes in striking deals across a spectrum of biotech to life science and high tech.

“I have never counted the number, but I am sure it is many,” Koyama says. “If I limit relationships as collaborations and agreements, we have achieved at least more than 10 collaborations or agreements, including at least a few in RTP.”

The Nagoya office also puts on a technology showcase to highlight Nagoya-developed technology, and Koyama frequently attends conferences to spread the word about the university’s efforts. Their next conference, an AgBiotech Roundtable, is set for March 6 at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

If you are looking for world-class technology and an overseas partner, you just might want to attend.