University of Tokyo

Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) has a long-standing partnership with the University of Tokyo in general and their Graduate School of Engineering in particular. Over the course of several years, the management at KTH has been working to establish a strategic partnership as part of the University’s objective of achieving more in-depth cooperation with a number of leading international universities. In conjunction with Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm University, KTH is a joint partner with the University of Tokyo.

University of Tokyo in brief

Founded in 1877, the University of Tokyo is Japan’s oldest national university. The University is situated on five different campuses in Tokyo, bringing together more than 30,000 students. The University conducts research and education in a range of subject areas, from economics and law to technology and science. The University of Tokyo is Japan’s highest ranking university and is among the top 50 in the world. The faculty boasts nine recipients of the Nobel-prize, five of whom have been awarded the prize since the year 2000. Thirteen of the University’s alumni are chief executive officers (CEO) at one of the world’s 500 largest companies, within which regard the University ranks second in the world, after Harvard University and ahead of Stanford University.

History of the partnership

Japan is a major power in the world of research, accounting for approximately 15% of the world’s research activities. As the largest recipient of Japan’s Ministry of Education’s funding for research within science and technology, the University of Tokyo holds a very central position within Japan’s university sector. Many of Japan’s professors and researchers have their background at the University of Tokyo. A strategically prioritised collaboration is expected to be beneficial to KTH in a variety of ways.

Conditions in Japan and Sweden are quite similar and the two countries are faced with similar future challenges: a developed economy, strong technology sector, high targets for environmental and security issues, and the problems presented by an ageing population. The Japanese state is currently investing considerable resources in the internationalisation of education and research in the country, with the aim of promoting 30 universities to leading international positions. The University of Tokyo’s objective as part of this investment is to identify ten universities for strategic partnerships. The combined partnership with KTH, KI and SU constitutes one of these 10 strategic partnerships. In July 2016, a Letter of Intent was signed by the four universities as a first step towards a more formalised collaboration. The development of the collaboration will take place within three broad fields:

  1. Research collaboration: Areas of interest for joint research activities will be identified. Existing contacts will be mapped. In September 2017, the first major workshop took place. The workshop on Active Ageing was devoted to the challenges presented by an ageing population. Researchers took part from different areas at the collaborating universities.
  2. Exchange of researchers and students: The exchange of researchers and students should be substantially increased. Obstacles and opportunities need to be identified.
  3. Faculty development: KTH sees that the development of e-learning and various globalisation processes is propelling the need for the development of tuition. Comparing and exchanging ideas with leading international universities is regarded as one of the components of KTH’s development work in this area.

In September 2017 an agreement for the strategic partnership was signed that built on the Letter of Intent.

The parnership’s steering group for the Stockholm trio consists of Professor Per Lundqvist of KTH, Professor Lennart Nilsson at Karolinska Institutet and Professor Karin Helmersson Bergmark at Stockholm University. The steering group also includes three officers: Torkel Werge (of KTH’s Department for International Relations), Niklas Traneus (of Stockholm University’s Department of Research Support) and Lotta Lundqvist (of KI’s Faculty Office and International Relations).

Educational partnerships

KTH and the University of Tokyo have a considerably widespread scheme for student exchanges. Each year, KTH receives 10-14 students from the University of Tokyo who study in Stockholm for one semester, and provides the same number of KTH students with the opportunity to study for one semester in Tokyo. This makes the University of Tokyo KTH’s biggest partner for student exchanges in Japan.

A special collaborative project for internationalization of students in mechanical engineering called Global Mechanical Engineering (GME) can also be mentioned. Through the collaboration number of students are helped each year to do research work for one semester under supervision at the host institution. The University of Tokyo, École polytechnique federal de Lausanne (EPFL) and KTH are the partners in the GME-project.


KTH and the University of Tokyo’s School of Engineering also work together within the Deans’ Forum university network, which also includes such institutions as ETH Zürich, Imperial College London, UC Berkeley and MIT. The primary purpose of this network is to develop the engineering curriculum and industry collaboration.

Find out more about the Deans’ Forum

Activities to develop the partnership

Coming activities

Workshop on Sustainability 2020

The next major activity is the Parternships's workshop for 2020 and is currently in the planning. It will take place on KTH campus in September 2020.

Call for applications for visits for research and/or teaching at University of Tokyo

Granted applicants who should be faculty of KTH will receive a support of 50 KSEK per month for visits between one and four months duration. Young researchers have priority. The programme started in 2017.

Previous activities

  • October 2018: Workshop on Sustainability - A multidisciplinary collaboration for sustainable development. This workshop took place on UTokyo Hongo campus. Eight satellite workshops were performed focusing on different aspects of the sustainability problematic. Website .
  • September 2017: A workshop on the ageing population – Active Ageing – took place on September 20-22 on the campus of Karolinska Institutet. Close to 100 researchers from different disciplines were brought together in Stockholm for a truly multi-disciplinary approach. Responsible for the planning at KTH was Professor Erik Lindahl and International Relations Advisor Torkel Werge. Website for the Workshop on Active Ageing - Living longer and healthier in an ageing world
  • March 2017: Workshop in Tokyo to develop the exchange of researchers and students. Under the direction of Professor Peter Gudmundson, a group of eleven people will travel to Tokyo in order to identify common interests together with students and staff at the University of Tokyo with the aim of increasing exchanges between the educational institutions. The person responsible from KTH is lecturer Atsuto Maki.
  • July 2016: Lena Gumaelius – former Dean of the ECE school – visited the University of Tokyo for meetings on faculty development and for lectures on educational methods and gender equality policies.
  • June 2016: Seminar on the syllabus in Japanese for engineers with five members of the Deans’ Forum, including the University of Tokyo.
  • October 2015: KTH’s President Peter Gudmundson visited the University of Tokyo’s President Gonokami together with Professor Gustav Amberg and Torkel Werge of KTH’s Department for International Relations in order to discuss future forms of cooperation.
  • March 2015: Workshop at the University of Tokyo for faculty development. KTH was represented by lecturers Anna-Karin Högfeldt, Fredrik Lundell and Johan Fridell, together with Yoko Takau Drobin, who teaches Japanese and Japanese culture.
  • September 2014: Visit to KTH by 20 engineering students from the Master’s programme at the University of Tokyo. The visit was coordinated by Yoko Takau Drobin, who teaches Japanese and Japanese culture at KTH.
  • March 2014: Workshop at KTH in educational development. Professor Michael Handford from the School of Engineering led a group of young teachers in the discussion of educational methods with colleagues from KTH.


Belongs to: About KTH
Last changed: Nov 06, 2019