The University of Ulster (UU) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the University of Madras in Chennai, one of India's leading universities, following its participation in recent Invest Northern Ireland organised trade missions to the region.
The MoU was announced today by Joan Reilly, UU's Head of International Office, and welcomed by Tracy Meharg, Invest NI's managing director of Innovation and Capability Development. It was signed in June by Professor Richard Barnett, UU’s Acting Vice Chancellor and Professor Thyagarajan, Vice-Chancellor, University of Madras. It followed the University of Ulster’s participation in the trade mission to India in 2004 which was led by Barry Gardiner MP, the then Northern Ireland Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment.
Joan Reilly says: “The agreement will see the two universities collaborate in biomedical sciences, conflict resolution, and cultural studies, and will focus on technology/knowledge transfer, joint research projects, and staff and student exchanges.
“Developing such international partnerships is an important element in the university’s growth strategy. Universities worldwide are co-operating increasingly across a range of activities, including major research projects. We believe that it is vitally important that the University of Ulster should be part of this global knowledge transfer trend.
“Invest NI trade missions have been extremely worthwhile in that they have enabled us to explore opportunities for such exchanges in many regions. Our activities in Asia have also been assisted by Invest NI’s trade adviser in Singapore and in the US by staff at the Northern Ireland Technology and Development Centre in Boston,” she adds.
Tracy Meharg says: "Encouraging Northern Ireland academic institutions and companies to build international networks for business and technology exchange is a central theme of Invest NI’s corporate strategy.
“Our extensive trade mission programme, which includes forthcoming visits to India on 1-12 October and China later in the year, provides an ideal and cost-effective springboard for this important process for companies and institutions, as well as the wider Northern Ireland economy. Our technology and development centres in Boston, Denver and Dubai and network of overseas offices that includes Shanghai provide facilities that can be used to identify and foster international business relationships.
The MoU is part of a rapidly developing relationship between the UU and India. UU professor of Telecommunications, Gerard Parr was recently requested by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to develop a joint UK/India research project on future telecommunications and establish an Advisory Group of senior researchers which will involve India's Institutes of Technology.
This followed Prof Parr's role in a major conference in New Delhi that was organised by the British High Commission and focused on areas for bilateral collaboration between India and UK researchers in fields such as telecommunications.
UU's nanotechnology expert, Prof Jim McLaughlin will be a keynote speaker at an international workshop on nanotechnology being held at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay next month (September).
The Indian government has also contacted Prof John McCloskey of the School of Environmental Sciences at UU for advice on an early warning system that will help to reduce the impact of earthquakes in South Asia. Prof McCloskey and his team are at the forefront of research into earthquakes and tsunamis in the Indian Ocean region.