IIT Research Academy for collaboration between Mauritius industry & academia
Professor S M Ishtiaque, Executive director, IITRA, pointed out that while the academia can benefit from access to research funding, the industry can access world class researchers, state-of-the-art knowledge in the field of engineering and IT as well as innovative background/ sideground knowledge and data. (Image: IITRA)
Mauritius needs to raise its level of ambition, be more affirmative in the field of science, engineering and research, and emulate countries such as India, South Korea, Japan and Singapore.
This was the call to action made by Mauritius Minister for Tertiary Education, Science, Research and Technology, Rajeshwar Jeetah, at the opening of a seminar by the International Institute of Technology Research Academy (IITRA), which is a joint initiative of the Mauritius Research Council (MRC) and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi.
The minister called for a change of mindset and culture, both at the level of academia and industry.
Urging representatives of private sector to seize the opportunity provided by the setting up of an IIT-like institution in Mauritius, Rajeshwar Jeetah said that it was time for research institutions and the industry to work closer.
He also invited the private sector to participate in consultative committees into research and develop formal associations in a bid to bring about positive changes.
Besides, the executive director of the IITRA spelt out the agenda of the institute at the seminar on the Academia Industry Interaction, for the benefit of private sector representatives.
Professor S M Ishtiaque spearheaded the AI2 initiative, which was held last week at the seat of the MRC in Ebène.
The purpose of the seminar, jointly organised by the MRC and IITRA, was to highlight the main focus of the IITRA, as also to give some insights on Academia and Industry Interaction (AI2) as proposed by the IITRA.
The AI2 has as objectives to bridge the gap between industry and institute, using resources from industry and academia for the benefit of industry, student and society, as well as making available institutional infrastructural facilities to industry, and vice versa.
During the seminar, Prof Ishtiaque highlighted the necessity for industry and academia to work in a complementary situation and in tandem.
Comparing the two realms, he spoke of the solution-deficit state of the industry, that is, a situation where the required technology and experiences are available while there is a lack of qualified labour and a limited budget in finding a solution to problems.
As for the academia, though they have the research expertise, well qualified students looking for jobs and availability of solutions, they are problem deficit.
“As such, both industry and academia can work together at lowest possible cost,” he said.
Speaking of the advantages of fruitful collaboration between industry and academia, Prof Ishtiaque pointed out that while the academia can benefit from access to industry resources, knowledge and contacts, and thus have their research funded, the industry can access world class researchers, state-of-the-art knowledge in the field of engineering and IT as well as innovative background/ sideground knowledge and data.
“Academic research can offer depth of a kind that is not always found in commercial research,” he added.
Prof Ishtiaque also listed the various projects that could be implemented under AI2, where some include continuous education programmes and on-going university training to suit the needs of the industry.
He also called on the representatives of private sector to embark on an industry oriented research project bank, industry sponsored academic programmes, industry sponsored research programmes as well as industry sponsored research laboratories.
The main focus of these programmes is that the research area will be specific to the industry, and projects will be developed as per the needs and requirements proposed by the industry.
Finally, according to Prof Ishtiaque, IITRA needs focused Public-Private Partnerships that cover the entire innovation chain. He concluded on the note that the institution needs to stimulate, develop and nurture new generations of excellent engineers, technologists and basic scientists.
About International Institute of Technology Research Academy (IITRA):
Inaugurated on July 23, 2014, the IITRA operates with the support of the MRC and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, to offer a world class research platform in the field of scientific and technological research.
The aim of the IITRA is to be an industry driven academic institute and leverage critical mass, particularly by maximising and exploiting the impact of its research-based projects.