New La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor strengthens ties during India visit

New La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor strengthens ties during India visit

FPJ BureauUpdated: Thursday, March 21, 2024, 03:16 PM IST
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Australia’s La Trobe University has identified key areas to further strengthen its longstanding commitment to Indian Research and Education partnerships during a visit by the University’s New Vice-Chancellor. Professor Theo Farrell, who began as Vice-Chancellor in February this year, has met with a range of Industry, Government and Trade Representatives during a five-day visit to the country.

La Trobe has a proud and successful history in India, partnering with tertiary institutions and organisations on projects that benefit both countries, and helping develop India’s brightest minds through joint education opportunities.

During his visit, Professor Farrell convened several Roundtable discussions with Partners, Industry and Government Representatives, on opportunities to collaborate on areas of mutual interest that address national priorities and that are important for Industry Innovation and Development.

Professor Farrell said there were several priority areas for La Trobe that presented opportunities for deepening relationships in India and developing new partnerships.

These include continuing to support and expand student exchanges in India and Australia; developing research focussed on digital technologies and skills innovations; research commercialisation opportunities, and linkages with industry partners. Deepening mutual industry partnerships play to La Trobe’s strengths in areas including smart cities, sustainable agriculture and food security, bio innovation, and in health and care innovation.

“Some of La Trobe’s most important university partners are in India, and we are building important partnerships with industry and businesses in India that leverage our significant expertise in areas including sustainable food and agriculture, health and wellbeing, technology and bio-innovation, ”Professor Farrell said.

“Our expertise in bio-innovation has recently been recognised by BioNTech, one of the world’s leading biotechnology companies, who have chosen La Trobe’s Melbourne campus as the base for its new mRNA manufacturing facility to develop and test cancer treatments. “In addition, we’re committed to institutional cross-learning, joint intellectual programs and research, collaborative approaches that address industry challenges and joint educational partnerships that provide important valuable learning opportunities for students.”

Opportunities for further collaboration and engagement were also discussed at a Leadership Roundtable of all member Universities of *the Asian Smart Cities Research Innovation Network (ASCRIN), which was founded by La Trobe University in 2019 and is now its Single Largest Research*

*Internationalisation Initiative with joint investment of more than AUD $43 million (Rs 235 crores)*

ASCRIN brings together a network of researchers, global industry partners, government collaborators and start-ups to advance research into smart city-related projects, helping to improve sustainability, liveability and efficiency of cities and towns in the region.

“The Network, with over 250 researchers, has already made significant strides in curating a strong portfolio of impact-based projects aimed at enhancing sustainability, liveability, and efficiency of cities and towns in the region. Our vision is now to build on this and accelerate engagement with industry and government to fast-track commercialisation and adoption pathways,” *said Professor Aniruddha Desai, ASCRIN Founder and Co-Director of IIT Kanpur – La Trobe University Research Academy.*

The Network has over 50 projects underway that will make a tangible difference in the lives of people in India, including:

• Data-driven decision making to improve Dairy supply chains.

• Re-using construction and demolition waste to reduce landfill.

• Intelligent planning of energy grids to optimise consumption and reduce costs.

• Using sensors to improve indoor growing conditions of medicinal crops.

• Real-time crash prediction in traffic on urban roads and intersections to increase safety of all road users.

The Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS) last year joined other leading tertiary institutions, the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT-K) and Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani (BITS-Pilani) as partners in the Network, which already includes more than 250 researchers and over 70 Joint-PhD projects.

*Professor Farrell and Pro Vice Chancellor of TISS, Professor Shankar Das also announced a Joint- PhD program, which will support Indian students to conduct research addressing the growing challenges of urbanisation in Asia.*

The La Trobe delegation will celebrate the finalists and winners of the Annual Technology Infusion Grand Challenge, which is designed to encourage undergraduate students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and Business fields to be confident in their skills and knowledge to produce a solution and solve a concrete problem using next generation smart technologies.

Over 130 students in some 67 teams from 18 universities in the region submitted innovative entries.

Professor Farrell will also visit Mahindra University, where La Trobe has launched a joint Bachelor’s degree program in civil engineering.

The collaboration, initiated in 2023, aligns with India’s National Education Policy 2023 and Australia’s Education Strategy for India, offering a unique opportunity for students to pursue their Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering with two years at Mahindra University and two years at La Trobe University. Students will receive a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from both Universities.

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