Message for students 2023:Takuma Nozawa
January 25, 2023
Active as a startup by taking advantage of the Side Business System
Researcher, Data Science Research Laboratories
After completing a doctorate program, Dr. Nozawa was employed at a think tank and later joined NEC in May 2020. While engaging in research and development of a technology that automatically discovers insights from data, he participates in Arclev, Inc. by using time on weekends and after regular work hours on weekdays. Taking advantage of NEC’s Side Business System, Dr. Nozawa continues his activities that build a bridge between researchers and the industry.
From a different field to data science
In university, I majored in molecular simulation, phase transition, and calculation acceleration. After I completed my doctorate program, I aspired to step into a realm closer to the real world and so I got employed at a private-sector think tank as a researcher at first. While my job was worthwhile, as I was engaging in the operation of the government, research at the think tank was centered on surveys and interviews. When I was thinking about doing more specialized research, I started looking into the now globally trendy data science area. The primary purpose of data science is solving customer challenges. I thought I could work in the academia and business with a good balance in this field. NEC was a name I saw often at academic conferences, and I also had the impression that it constantly releases research papers, so I applied for a job.
Although I was able to join NEC, my major is molecular simulation and I specialized in other physics-related research themes. When I just joined NEC, I was startled by the gap between me and the data science area. I could not understand most of the research papers I was handed right when I joined NEC. I remember feeling like I was back to being a senior in university. Ever since, I have been reading research papers and books and gradually started understanding the terminology and background. Once I figured out terms and background knowledge, I started seeing the discussion points and managed to catch up. There is a lot of input in the data science area: community activities are brisk, the latest research papers are discussed over SNS, and there are videos by the authors explaining their research papers in an easy-to-understand manner, to give a few examples. I was able to catch up by repeating the scheme of capturing previous flows and trends in research and plotting my own research themes. I was able to apply the skills I developed during school years here.
Aiming for “data democratization” with AI technologies
Currently, I am working on the development of a technology that discovers insights from data. “Insight” is a multi-faceted term—for example, when data is visualized as a chart, you may find an interesting pattern. “Insight” in our research means such patterns, and we are trying to use AI to automatically discover them.
While many business activities are already attempting to utilize business intelligence (BI) tools to find insights from data, analysts still need to thoroughly observe data to discover patterns as of the present date. If the data volume is limited, this is doable. However, once the data becomes massive, it is nearly impossible to handle it. If this analytical process can be automated, then it can assist data-driven decision making. We should be able to more casually use data in various settings.
We still only have a handful of people who can use data in today’s society. If this technology comes to life and we can advance “data democratization,” it can lead to people in different positions realizing that interesting facts can be uncovered from data that they have. Various businesses may sprout from such experiences. For example, if there is data business that can be used by elderly people and women from their individual standpoints, the world can be a more interesting place. I want to be involved in such technology development.
Toward a society where researchers get more spotlight
At NEC, you can have a side business as long as you get approved by the company. Since July this year, I have been working for a company called Arclev, using my spare time on weekday nights and weekends. Arclev is a startup that a professor I know from university incorporated. It promotes corporate problem solving by introducing researchers in the academia to the industry sector. It is very inspiring to get to discuss fresh topics with people who I don't meet in my day job.
What is behind my engagement in this activity is my hope that one day researchers get more spotlight. Previously, researchers were thought to be “a low-paying occupation” or “ploddingly studying what they like.” The tide is slowly turning recently, and the recognition that “researchers’ innovations are making differences in the world” is spreading with a focus on IT.
Having said that, looking at university researchers around me, I feel that they are still not seeing the light of day. There are many excellent researchers in Japan. It is also my personal goal to support such people so that they can be freely active in different fields without being fixed to the framework of the academia or industry.
- ※The information posted on this website is the information at the time of publication.
A day at work
Message to my past self in my school days
While I do side business, I also often go out for a walk, listening to podcasts, when I have time. I like content that talk about history and news from different angles and aspects. I am also a monthly sponsor of channels I support. I also regularly attend an activity where you pedal a bike in a dark room. It is refreshing to exercise for 45 minutes straight with an empty mind and sweat running down in rivulets.