Seed funding for 24 new collaborations within MIRAI2.0

What determines the quality of life of older LGBTQ+ people in Sweden and Japan? How can AI predict stress levels and help caregivers improve their skills when practicing in calming patients with dementia? This will be investigated in two of the projects that have been granted funding in the call MIRAI2.0 Joint seed funding of Japan-Sweden collaborative projects.

During MIRAI2.0 Research & Innovation Week in June, the MIRAI2.0 Joint seed funding of Japan-Sweden collaborative projects was launched. The objective with the seed funding is to encourage further development of existing and new collaborations between MIRAI2.0 member universities based on innovative projects and new ideas. 24 projects have now been granted funding.

The projects are within in all MIRAI2.0’s subject areas and range from “Comparative perspectives on Blue Justice for coastal communities and small-scale fisheries” and “Social economic status, lifestyle factors, and brain aging” to “Sustainable energy and water purification via photocatalysis using solar energy”.

Quality of life among older LGBTQ+ people

Anna Bratt is senior Lecturer at the Department of Psychology at Linnaeus University. She is one of the main applicants for a collaborative project between five different universities in Sweden and Japan, that will investigate and compare components and determinants of quality of life among older LGBTQ+ people living in Japan and Sweden.

“There are differences in our two countries, for example when it comes to legal regulations. As far as we know, Japan lacks country-wide comprehensive protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity”, says Anna Bratt.

The researchers came into contact with each other at the MIRAI2.0 TEG Ageing Workshop in September, where Tsukasa Muraya from Kyushu University presented the idea of ​​researching the quality of life among older LGBTQ +. The project is interdisciplinary, and three of the five researchers are early in their careers, including Anna Bratt.

“International collaborations are an important part of the researcher’s work and career development, but it is not always easy to find the right contacts. I have thought a lot about how I can be part of international contexts, and I was happy when I heard about this opportunity within MIRAI2.0”, she says

The researchers will, among other things, use the funding to visit each other within the project. In a longer perspective, they hope to start a research project with employed PhD students and dissertations on the subject.

“There is very little research on older LGBTQ+, both in Sweden and Japan. We want to add knowledge, both to healthcare staff who meet this group in their work, and to society at large”, says Anna Bratt.

AI to predict stress levels in caregivers and patients

Ryo Kurazume is Professor at the Graduate School of Information Science and Electrical Engineering at Kyushu University. He has received seed funding for a collaboration with Örebro University and Jönköping University, which also includes several young researchers. 

The researchers are planning to devise new AI-based technology to predict stress levels in caregivers and patients with dementia, to help caregivers improve their skills. The project is connected to the Humanitude project in Japan, a new training system based on Augmented reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) which allows caregivers to practice their skills to calm down patients with dementia by using eye contact, soft manipulation and voice.

“I believe “tenderness” and “humanity” are important in elderly care, and advanced AI technology is indispensable to naturally convey these qualities to the elderly. The training device we have developed uses AI to extract the skills of experts, and instructs the trainee based on the extracted skills. For example, we use sensor gloves to find out when, where, and how the Humanitude instructors touch patients, and wearable cameras to find out how often they make eye contact with patients. Using these data, we are building an AI that can evaluate whether trainees are taking the right care or not”, says Ryo Kurazume.

Both Sweden and Japan are facing important societal and public health challenges due to demographic ageing. By 2050, 39% of the Japanese and 23% of the Swedish population are projected to be aged 65 years or older.

“However, social and healthcare resources and workers has been reduced in many high-income countries due to financial burden, high life expectancy, and low birth rate. Therefore, there is an urgent need for innovative forms to cover future demands of care for older adults”, says Ryo Kurazume. 

His hope is that the MIRAI2.0 seed funding will lead to more collaborations between the two countries.

“The current Humanitude project will end in 2022, but we are planning to apply for some funding. We are very pleased to be able to collaborate with Swedish researchers, and propose new projects”, he says. 

The 24 projects

List of all approved projects and main applicants in Sweden and Japan:

  • Identifying novel and unknown metabolic factors that are responsible to accelerate ageing; Minjung Lee (Waseda University) & Daniel Globisch (Uppsala University)
  • Living arrangement and healthcare utilization in aging societies: an intercountry comparison between Sweden and Japan; Rong Fu (Waseda University) & Mojgan Padyab (Umeå University)
  • Association between gut-barrier dysfunction and catabolic function of osteomacs in bone homeostasis; Alaa Terkawi (Hokkaido University) & Tatiana Milena Marques (Örebro University)
  • Comparison of components and determinants of quality of life among older LGBTQ+ people living in Japan and Sweden; Tsukasa Muraya (Kyushu University) & Anna Bratt (Linnaeus University)
  • Co-designing digital self-care in later life; Kazue Sako (Waseda University) & Giana Carli Lorenzini (Lund University)
  • Digital engagement and oral care among older Japanese and Swedish adults; Kazuhiro Tsuga (Hiroshima University) & Caroline Fischl (Jönköping University)
  • Healthy aging in place in urban Japan and Sweden; Michael Annear (Waseda University) & Sofi Fristedt (Jönköping University)
  • Social economic status, lifestyle factors, and brain aging: comparison between Japanese and Swedish Community Cohorts; Izumi Matsudaira (Tohoku University) & Nina Karalija (Umeå University)
  • Creating a general framework for developing ambient multimedia solutions; Tatsuo Nakajima (Waseda University) & Bruce Ferwerda (Jönköping University)
  • AI to predict stress levels in caregivers and patients; Ryo Kurazume (Kyushu University) & Oscar Martinez Mozos (Örebro University)
  • Bio-signals and human privacy; Emi Yuda (Tohoku University) & Oscar Martinez Mozos (Örebro University)
  • Micro-architectured materials; Asuka Suzuki (Nagoya University) & Mahmoud Mousavi (Uppsala University)
  • Deformation mechanisms of superlattices and nanocomposite based multifunctional nanolaminates; Naoki Takata (Nagoya University) & Naureen Ghafoor (Linköping University)
  • Sustainable energy and water purification via photocatalysis using solar energy; Hikaru Saito (Kyushu University) & Shun Kashiwaya (Linköping University)
  • Electronic-grade Ternary III-Nitride Semiconductor Nanorods and Nanoheterostructures for High Efficiency Optoelectronics; Kaziuhiro Yasuda (Kyushu University) & Ching-Lien Hsiao (Linköping University)
  • Develop novel solid polymer electrolytes using polyketones; Masahiro Yoshizawa-Fujita (Sophia University) & Jonas Mindemark (Uppsala University)
  • Spintronic nano-oscillators for on-chip bio-inspired computing; Shunsuke Fukami (Tohoku University) & Akash Kumar (The University of Gothenburg)
  • North-South Divide and Capital Flow: Exploring the Impact of Partnership; Alexander Ryota Keeley (Kyushu University) & Malgorzata Blicharska (Uppsala University)
  • Sustainability Challenges in Sweden and Japan: Comparative Perspectives on Blue Justice for Coastal Communities and Small-scale Fisheries; Alyne Delaney (Tohoku University) & Sebastian Linke (The University of Gothenburg)
  • Pollution of surface water by human pharmaceutical use; Xuepeng Qian (Sophia University) & Irina Mancheva (Umeå University)
  • Climate Governance and geopolitics in the Pacific; Ayyoob Sharifi (Hiroshima University) & Björn-Ola Linnér (Linköping University)
  • Vertical farming and sustainable food consumption; Shiho Ishikawa (Hokkaido University) & Soniya Billore (Linnaeus University)
  • Developing advanced energy management systems; Yoshiharu Amano (Waseda University) & Jorge Solis (Karlstad University)
  • Marketing technology (MARTECH) for customer behavioral transformation to rapidly reduce food wastes; Shunsuke Managi (Kyushu University) & Avit Bhowmik (Karlstad University)