Representatives of the advisory council which had its first meeting on Thursday said that the academy is planning to initiate at least three to five projects in the next three months. Infosys Chairman and Chief Mentor N Murthy who chaired the meeting via tele-conferencing suggested that the academy can initially focus on areas like clean energy and power.
“It’s a unique experiment which has brought together for the first time in India two leading research institutes that will engage in theme-based, inter-disciplinary and goal-oriented research. We will take up grand challenges which will make a huge impact, for instance vaccine for malaria,” said IIT Bombay Director Ashok Misra.
The initial focus of the academy will be on energy, water, biotechnology and stem cell research, infrastructure, advanced computational engineering and nanotechnology.
A major focus will be strengthening of academia-industry partnership and undertaking projects of commercial value in collaboration with industry.
Significantly, the themes selected will together address the future research and development challenges of several industry sectors like petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, automotive, IT and financial markets among others.
Saying that the joint venture will provide an interactive environment to the brightest students in areas relevant to the industry and environment, Monash University Vice-Chancellor and President Richard Larkins said that “30 to 35 companies in both countries (India and Australia) have agreed to work with us.”
Besides funding from the Australian government, the Australian mining company DuPont has agreed to contribute a sizeable sum.
Emphasising that the industry is looking for research work which is technology and not product-focused, Pawan Goenka, President (automotive sector) of Mahindra and Mahindra said: “We are looking at technologies that may for instance be used in car designs to reduce harmful emissions or technologies for lighter but stronger cars.”
A primary focus of the academy will be building a strong cadre of high quality doctoral graduates who will spend part of their candidature at Monash University. The students will receive a joint PhD degree and will be supported by high-end facilities and attractive compensations and scholarships. Staff exchange will also be integral.
Currently, while IIT-B has 1,300 students enrolled for its PhD programmes while Monash has around 3,500, of which around 150-200 are Indian students. Meanwhile, the intellectual property (IP) will vary from project to project.