They come from very different worlds, yet have remarkably similar tales to tell. One hails from Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture, while the other was brought up in the shadows of the Merendon mountains in the Sula Valley of northwestern Honduras.

Bonding over a "love of good coffee and jazz," Yasutomo Takano and Cristian Mejia have come a long way since they first met four years ago while studying bibliometrics at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Back then they were both enthusiastic students with a love for robotics and the "internet of things." Now, they are using their combined skills to solve challenges in academia.

The fresh-faced researchers, still both in their early thirties, became increasingly frustrated by the amount of time they spent reading and understanding academic papers, often not in their respective native languages.