Three-Year Anniversary: A Look at How We’re Upgrading Reality

By Kazuhiro Gomi, President and CEO, NTT Research, Inc. 

What an exciting and productive three years it has been! NTT Research was formally launched in a grand opening ceremony on July 8, 2019; and here we are, with more than twice as many employees, in a fantastic new facility, and with tremendous momentum. Let me take a few minutes and review our history in terms of the people, partnerships and research that has brought us to this point in time.

Over the past three years, we have increased our team count, without losing any of the original quality. We had 27 employees then; now the number is 64. This includes two researchers who have become the new directors of their respective labs: Dr. Joe Alexander, who became director of the Medical & Health Informatics (MEI) Lab in June 2021, succeeding Dr. Hitonobu Tomoike (both M.D. Ph.Ds); and Dr. Brent Waters, the new director of the Cryptography & Information Security (CIS) Lab, who succeeded Dr. Taksuaki Okamoto in June 2022. A knowledge company, especially one as ambitious as we are, can only be as good as its human capital. But when I think about our leadership team, our researchers, and our support staff, I know why it is perfectly accurate to describe NTT Research as a world-class enterprise.

At the same time, no researcher in today’s interconnected world is an island. From the start, the NTT Research vision included the “open lab” concept. Unique among industrial laboratories, this idea is not to showcase a particular technology or promote a corporate brand. Rather, as Physics & Informatics (PHI) Lab Director Yoshihisa Yamamoto described it last year, this strategy “provides our team with opportunities to further collaborate with academic institutions by exchanging ideas, utilizing additional resources and tapping into a wide-range of expertise.” Again, we have combined quantity and quality: NTT Research has established more than 20 relationships with premier research organizations in the U.S., Japan and around the world.

The NTT Research team

Finally, there is the impressive research that stands at the heart of our bold mission to “Upgrade Reality.” To date, our researchers have published or successfully submitted more than 200 papers (216 to be exact) at various academic journals and conferences. That number includes 12 accepted by the highly influential publication Nature or its related journals, and three contributions that received “Best Paper” awards in major academic conferences. Reflecting on lifetime achievements, three NTT Researchers (Dr. Yamamoto, Dr. Waters, and PHI Lab Distinguished Scientist Dr. Robert Byer) received special awards in major academic societies. Each of our three labs has made its own mark: The MEI Lab for its moonshot goal of creating a bio digital twin, beginning with the cardiovascular system, along with work in biomedically related materials science. The PHI Lab for its work in theoretical computing, the Coherent Ising Machine (CIM), neural networking, and attention to both performance and energy consumption; and the CIS Lab for its prolific and wide-ranging cryptographic research, including several bona fide “breakthroughs.”

It goes without saying that work here at NTT Research carried on during our first three years despite the global Covid pandemic. One consequence of that tremendous, societal disruption has been a greater appreciation for fundamental research. That point applies not only to the life sciences, as we illustrate in this video titled “Viral,” but to all disciplines. As the pace of in-person collaboration picks up, we look back with pride and appreciation. And we look forward with confidence, to leveraging more capabilities of our state-of-the-art facility in Sunnyvale and renewing our efforts to promote positive change for humankind.