Asian Smart Cities Research and Innovation Network Worth 65 Cr Launched

La Trobe University (Melbourne, Australia) is spearheading a major research initiative valued over Rs 65 crores, along with two Indian universities, to address the growing challenges of urbanisation.

The Asian Smart Cities Research and Innovation Network (ASCRIN), developed by La Trobe along with partners - the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT Kanpur) and the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani (BITS Pilani) – was announced during a visit to India by La Trobe’s Vice-Chancellor, John Dewar. 

The aim of the large-scale initiative is to build a critical mass of resources, know-how and targeted research strength from the three universities, along with close engagement with industry and local government, to deliver impact for the sustainability, liveability, and efficiency of cities across Asia.

John Dewar expresses that the Asian Smart Cities Research Hub draws upon La Trobe’s proven research and innovation strengths in Australia - adapting and applying them to Asian cities.

He said, “At La Trobe, we are committed to solving global issues and improving the welfare of people and communities. For over a decade, our Centre for Technology Infusion has been delivering field-ready, Smart City projects with Government and industry in multi-disciplinary areas such as transport safety and mobility, energy and infrastructure management, digital supply chains, and smart farming."

“I’m therefore delighted to be deepening our relationship with IIT Kanpur and BITS Pilani to create a powerhouse of research and industry collaboration to address the pressing global challenges brought about by urbanisation in Asia,” he added.

The research network will include La Trobe – IIT Kanpur Research Academy and a joint Ph.D. and research framework with BITS Pilani supported and guided by a network of 'Industry Champions'. The Industry Champions will comprise senior leaders from corporates, consulting houses, small and medium businesses, and Government.

Director of IIT Kanpur, Abhay Karandikar said, "The Institute specialises in smart energy grids which are the backbone of any Smart City. We are not only conducting state-of-the-art research in this area but have also put our work into practice by implementing a smart energy grid in our very own campus.”

“Combining our expertise in this area with the research strengths of La Trobe University will, I am sure, bring us cutting-edge results for the benefit of rapidly urbanising Asian cities. With our combined research capabilities, I am sure we can successfully find solutions for some of the pressing global problems of today," he added.

Key themes for research and industry collaboration are around infrastructure and technology; economic development; mobility and transport; health and well-being; education; urban planning; governance and engagement; security and safety; culture and heritage; and energy, water and waste.

Vice-Chancellor of BITS Pilani, Souvik Bhattacharyya said, "The university is collaborating with La Trobe on various Smart Cities themes. We want to take our long-standing collaboration with La Trobe to the next level, introducing a joint doctoral programme. We are complementing and combining our expertise to address existing and new challenges in Smart Cities. This covers many areas, from mobility and transport to sanitation and waste management, using disruptive technologies such as IoT, AI, Machine Learning, blockchain and real-time data analytics.”

More than 70 academics from the three universities have already joined the research and innovation network, with the aim of creating new joint research professorships and a joint Ph.D. program with more than 50 Ph.D. scholarships offered.

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