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Deakin University continues to lead the way among Australian universities for developing meaningful, reciprocal research and educational partnerships with India.
This follows the official opening of the new Deakin India Research Initiative (DIRI) in Hyderabad by Jacinta Allen MHA, the Victorian Minister for Skills and Workforce Participation.
"Deakin was the first University from anywhere in the world to set up an office in India," the Minister said.
"And Australia's second Prime Minister, Alfred Deakin, first noted the potential for partnerships between our country and India as far back as 1893. I am sure he would be thrilled that the University that bears his name is playing such an important role in fulfilling his prophecy.
"So I welcome this initiative that maintains a long-standing, reciprocal relationship, this time in the significant area of research partnerships. These partnerships will benefit not only Deakin and Victoria, but also help meet the demands of India's rapidly growing economy."
DIRI joins Deakin University's world-leading expertise in materials sciences, nanotechnology and biotechnology in research partnerships with some of India's leading companies, research institutes and universities. The University is committing direct funding of at least $3 million to DIRI with significant in-kind support.
Deakin University has been a leader in Australia in developing research models that bridge the gap between academia and industry. Discussions with organisations in India have highlighted how bridging this gap is a major issue to enable the rapid increase in manufacturing and knowledge industries needed for growing India's economy.
Deakin's Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Professor Lee Astheimer, saw first hand the warmth of the relationships between the University and its Indian partners when she visited India recently.
"I was extremely impressed with the facilities and research being undertaken at many of the places I visited," Professor Astheimer said. "Companies such as VIMTA Labs are increasingly working globally and have identified the shortage of PhD graduates who want to work with industry in India. They see this as a significant barrier to the future Indian expansion of frontier technologies like biotech.
"By the end of this year we will have at least 20 PhD students enrolled through DIRI, with significantly more in 2010. There is a strong emphasis so far on biotechnology, nanotechnology and materials science, but I am sure this will expand into a whole range of discipline areas where Deakin has strength and where there is keen interest and need in India."
During September the Vice President Research and Development for Vimta Labs Ltd, Dr Nandu Gattu, visited Deakin University where he was able to meet many of the lead researchers, interact with students and learn more about the support that students based in India will receive.
He was impressed by the hospitality and multicultural make up of the research team and the quality of research facilities.
"I believe that for Vimta this provides a major opportunity to work in collaboration with a leading research group and it will provide us with access to a range of new ideas and techniques. We have recently chosen four students who will conduct PhD projects based in our laboratories, and we see this growing in the future," Dr Gattu said.
Deakin University's Australian Laureate Fellow, Professor Peter Hodgson, has been one of the prime movers in the creation of DIRI and says it is the culmination of many trips to India by Deakin researchers and representatives.
"This is not an overnight thing but something built on over 30 visits to India," Professor Hodgson said. "Those visits have all been aimed at ensuring the projects between our University and the partners in India will make the difference we are so proud of at Deakin. They will also build future capacity.
"It really is a win-win for Deakin, the Indian partner and the students."
Deakin has more than 50 partnerships in India. These include: