The Asia Pacific Institute for the Digital Economy

The Asia Pacific Institute for the Digital Economy (APIDE) is a new think tank that seeks to mobilize the academic expertise and institutional resources of 45 major research universities in the region in cooperation with the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) to promote new Internet-based technologies and policies that are vital to the future growth of the Digital Economy.

A new, independent think tank for the Asia-Pacific on the future of the Digital Economy

APIDE had its start four years ago as a research group at Keio University and will remain closely affiliated with the University. Its new status as an independent non-profit institution will provide needed administrative and organizational flexibility to engage effectively with stakeholders outside the academic community. APIDE expects to work closely with national governments in crafting new rules for the digital economy; to partner with companies in developing new business models, and to assist in mobilizing the educational resources of universities to support short and long-term training for the next generation of digital leaders in the region. 



Our Objectives


Data will be the core of economy, society, and government

APIDE’s focus on the Digital Economy derives from a vision of an Asia Pacific region where “data” is at the core of economy, society and government. In this vision, the impact of the Internet and its promise of ubiquitous connectivity is not limited to the ICT sector of the economy. “Data” will be at the heart of the regional transport and logistical system; it will transform education and better integrate the delivery of healthcare services; it will improve energy efficiency and reinvent the manufacturing process; it will change the way consumers purchase and use commercial services; and it will reduce the cost and boost the effectiveness of government services and policies.

The Internet was born in the laboratories and research centers of universities, scaled and sustained by the skills and talents of the engineering and technical community, and brought to consumers through the creativity and inventive business models of entrepreneurial companies big and small. The success of the Internet over the past 20 years was enabled by its ability to grow and innovate outside traditional governmental and economic channels – often in spite of them.

The next 20 years will be different. The new digital economy is about the integration of the Internet into all aspects of the economy and society. Making this work will require close coordination and collaboration among all stakeholders – most prominently governments, business and universities. This process will be complex and uneven nowhere more so than in the Asia Pacific where the institutions and “habits of cooperation” that can facilitate this process in the Americas and Europe are weak or imperiled by national economic policies and security rivalries.

APIDE believes that the key to building an effective framework for coordination on Internet policies and the digital economy in the Asia Pacific area starts with a stronger and more regular dialogue among relevant stakeholders and the diffusion of best practices and policies throughout the region.

The next 20 years will be different

We are further convinced that the universities in the region have a special responsibility in this regard and need to be at the center of this dialogue. Especially in Asia, it is academics who have the positions and the access that allow them uniquely to work with business, advise governments and support capacity building for civil society.

To date, however, university engagement in the Asia Pacific region has largely had a national rather than regional focus and has generally been the province of individual scholars rather than the universities as institutions. APIDE is committed to changing this – and through focused, meaningful involvement by a region-wide coalition of leading universities, help to positively shape and transform regional engagement on issues affecting the Digital Economy in the Asia Pacific. 

Who We Are

summer-seminar-wide-1024x681APIDE began four years ago as the Keio International Center for the Internet & Society (KICIS), an Internet policy research group based at Keio University, Japan’s oldest private higher education. KICIS was created to serve as a link between Japan’s Internet policy community and that of the broader region, sharing information and providing a framework for collaborative research linked to focused advocacy.

Initial activities centered on building what is now the most widely accessed by page views English-language website on Japanese Internet policy development and on helping to bridge the relatively closed and “stove-piped” environment among the Internet policy communities in Japan (government, business, legal, technical, academic and civil society) through the convening of regular policy seminars, preparation of public comments, and engagement with the multi-stakeholder community on issues centering on a range of Internet economy, society, and governance concerns.

kilnam-summer-seminarKICIS partnered closely with the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) in developing this agenda and led the drafting of major position papers for the Chamber on Japan’s cyber security strategy, revisions to the personal information law and the governance of the Internet Economy. KICIS also supported Japan’s premier business organization, Keidanren, in the drafting of joint US-Japan industry statements released on the occasion of the US-Japan Internet Economy Dialogue, a major public-private initiative to promote closer cooperation between the Japan and the United States on Internet policy issues both bilaterally and in third country settings.

In parallel with this, KICIS built a unique collaborative relationship with Korea University’s Cyber Law Centre to promote stronger exchange among Japanese and Korean scholars on issues related to the emergence of a digital economy. The cooperation resulted in a four highly successful international conferences in co-sponsorship with Korea University under the name of the Asia Forum that opened the door to new relationships with academic communities in China, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines. The goal was to search for common perspectives on cybersecurity, privacy, cross-border data flows, Big Data, and Cloud Computing.

KICIS’s growing regional profile positioned it well to support the Association of Pacific Rim Universities interest in deploying the resources and expertise of its 45 associated universities on issues related to the regional digital economy. The APRU has a nearly a 20- year history in providing a framework for collaborative research and faculty exchange among its member universities on issues ranging from climate change to the aging society to disaster preparedness. Keio University was among its founding members.

A decision to launch an APRU initiative on Governing the Internet Economy was made at the organization’s 2014 summit and KICIS was selected to coordinate the effort. KICIS began a process to identify and connect APRU members research centers and individual scholars working on Internet policy issues.

An unprecedented network of thought leaders and decision-makers for technology in Asia

In March 2015, KICIS hosted the first APRU Internet Business Offsite, bringing together scholars representing 17 universities with senior business executives from major Internet related businesses in Japan, the US, and Korea to exchange views on their research agendas and business models over the next ten years of the Internet in the region. The program was a frank, off-the-record exchange designed to highlight priorities for business and upcoming policy challenges in the Digital Economy. The Offsite was funded by contributions from participating corporations and promises to become an annual event.

Building on this momentum and supported by a generous three-year grant from the Sasakawa Peace Fund, the next step was more ambitious: convening a six-day APRU Internet Economy Summer Seminar in August 2015. The Seminar targeted mid-level government officials from around the region responsible for Internet regulation. The Seminar was the first of its kind in the Asia Pacific region and featured a 25-member faculty from Japan, the US, Korea, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Indonesia

Support from governments in the region was very strong, with 15 government officials joining from Japan, the US, Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia and Vietnam. Major Japanese corporations including NTT, Fujitsu, Rakuten, Yahoo Japan and Sony also registered their support for the Seminar, sending ten of their top young executives.

The Seminar Report and Reading List for the APRU Summer Seminar reflect the depth and breadth of the discussion, which was uniformly welcomed and praised by the participants. The findings from the Seminar were reported out at the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) meeting in September 2015 and will be incorporated in the agenda for the nearly formed APEC Ad Hoc Steering Group on the Internet Economy.

Why APIDE Now?             

sugihara-event-1024x678Over the past four years, our activities as KICIS has struck a chord in Japan and throughout the region. Governments, business, the technical community, and civil society representatives have actively participated in our programs and see the value of the region’s universities playing a large role in the regional conversation on the Digital Economy. They appreciate the organizational capabilities and intellectual vision that KICIS has demonstrated, and are asking us to do more to develop a stable foundation for more extensive dialogue. Encouraged by this support and seeking to respond to these needs, we have decided to register with the Japanese government as a non-profit policy research institute under the name of the Asia-Pacific Institute for the Digital Economy (APIDE).

This new legal status will will permit APIDE the organizational and administrative flexibility to more proactively engage with its stakeholders, eliminating the typical encumbrances that have prevented universities from fully asserting themselves in the conversation on the digital economy. It is our goal to expand the activities we have begun at KICIS under an institutional framework that will allow universities, governments, business, and civil society in the Asia-Pacific to create a productive impact on emerging policy and economic issues related to technology.

APIDE will continue retain a close relationship with Keio University and KICIS. At the same time, APIDE as a separate entity will also be free to pursue direct agreements on cooperative projects with other universities in Japan and the region to grow its network of researchers and collaborators at partnering academic Internet policy research institutions.



Board of Directors

The work of APIDE is overseen by a diverse board of directors, coming from Japanese industry and small business, the legal profession, the engineering community, academia, and the US business community in Tokyo.

Current Board Members include:

Masanobu Katoh
(Chairman), CEO, Intellectual Ventures Japan

Ko Fujii
CEO, Makira Consulting; Senior Advisor, Japan Association of New Economy (JANE)

Christopher LaFleur
Senior Advisor, McLarty Associates; Chairman, ACCJ

Akinori Maemura
General Manager, Japan Information Network Center (JPNIC)

Naoko Mizukoshi
Attorney, Endeavour

Yoshihiro Obata
CEO, Bizmobile

Jim Foster
Executive Director, APIDE

Omair Qazi
Managing Director, APIDE

Academic Advisory Council

APIDE is supported by an Academic Advisory Council with membership drawing upon prominent international academic experts on the Internet in the Asia Pacific region beginning with partner institutions at Keio University and the APRU.

Participating Academics Advisors include:

Jun Murai
(Co-Chair), Dean, School of Environment and Information Technology, Keio University

David J. Farber
(Co-Chair), Professor of Computer Science and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University

Toshio Obi
Professor, Graduate School of Pacific Studies, Waseda University

Hiroshi Esaki
Professor, GRIPS Innovation, Science, and Technology Policy Program, University of Tokyo

Makoto Yokozawa
Professor, Graduate School of Infomatics, Kyoto University

Kilnam Chon
Professor, Korean Advanced Institute for Science and Technology (KAIST)

Nohyoung Park
Professor, School of Law, Korea University

Hong Xue
Professor, School of Law, Beijing Normal University

Abu Bakar Munir
Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Malay

Yudho Giri Sucahyo
Associate Professor of Computer Science, University of Indonesia

Peter Cowhey
Dean, Graduate School of Pacific Studies, University of California – San Diego

Woodrow Hartzog
Associate Professor, Cumberland School of Law, Samford University

Richard Dasher
Director, US-Asia Technology Management Center, Stanford University

Defining the Next 20 Years

Since the launch of KICIS four years ago, we have been greatly encouraged by the response in Japan and more broadly in the region to our efforts to involve the university community starting with Keio University and now 44 other universities through the APRU in more focused outreach to other elements of the multi-stakeholder community and in stronger advocacy with regard to the many challenges to building a Digital Economy.

The creation of the Asia Pacific Institute for the Digital Economy is a natural outgrowth of these activities and a response to a commonly felt need in the region for an independent and unbiased university-affiliated research institute that can work with all stakeholders, especially the academic community, to clarify policy options and help build consensus around a set of pragmatic actions based on solid research and analysis.

We believe that the next 25 years of the Internet’s growth and development will largely be centered in the Asia-Pacific region. APIDE is committed to ensuring that the values and spirit of collaboration that infused the work of the “pioneers” of the Internet are not lost but instead deepened and expanded as we work together with our colleagues in Asia to further realize the potential of the Internet to transform our economies and societies and ultimately to enrich our individual lives.