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May 8, 2018

Japan-India Collaboration at IIT Hyderabad Making Strides, Realizing Innovative, Leading-Edge Research

photoStudents of the Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad

A new alloy with ultrahigh strength and ductility has been discovered.

In February, the research results were published on Scientific Reports, an online journal of a global publisher, Springer Nature, surprising the world. Collaborative research by researchers from the JICA-supported Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad (IIT-H) and Kyoto University, Dr. Pinaki Prasad Bhattacharjee and Dr. Nobuhiro Tsuji, played an important role in this research. The new alloy is appreciated for its potential to lead to lighter and safer automobiles and planes, and additional joint research on it is garnering attention.

JICA's support for IIT-H has two aspects — building a network among researchers and constructing facilities — and it is greatly expanding possibilities for industry-academia partnerships between Japan and India.

Promoting networking and joint research among researchers

Research on this new alloy is being supported by JICA's Future Researchers at IIT-H to Enhance Network Development with Scholarship of Japan (FRIENDSHIP) project, which began in 2012 and aims to promote industry-academia partnerships between Japan and India.

This project consists of three pillars: developing human resources, supporting the building of networks with Japanese universities and supporting building a network with Japanese companies. Twelve universities in Japan participate, including the University of Tokyo and Kyoto University. So far about 200 researchers from Japan and IIT-H have traveled back and forth between the two countries, and the program is introducing Japan's leading-edge research findings to Indian students through joint research, special lectures and workshops. Under an industry-academic partnership supported by the project, Osaka University and Hitachi Zosen are engaged in joint research in the area of manufacturing on joint welding technology to improve product performance.

photoDivya Anand is involved in world-class research in a doctoral program at the University of Tokyo.

The project also proactively supports networking between students and companies. One Indian student found a job with the Japanese automaker Suzuki through a seminar for networking with Japanese companies held by the project.

As part of the project's support for training researchers, Divya Anand is researching polymer-materials-applied leading edge nanotechnology composite materials, in a doctoral program of the Department of Advanced Materials Science, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo. She decided to study in Japan after participating in a workshop held by the University of Tokyo at IIT-H.

She said she interacted with many researchers and learned more about the importance of time management and other Japanese ways of thinking. The project is developing human resources like Anand who can serve as intermediaries between Japan and India.

In addition to the FRIENDSHIP project, since 2016 IIT-H has been engaged in joint research with Japanese universities and Nagoya Electric Works to realize a low-carbon smart city. The aim is to reduce energy use in India, where the amount of traffic is skyrocketing. The joint research was made possible through the Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) program, which JICA supports.

Helping build trusting relationships and energize research

photoJICA Expert Kotaro Kataoka lectures at a workshop held in Japan to give FRIENDSHIP program students a chance to socialize.

Since the start of the FRIENDSHIP project at IIT-H, JICA Expert Kotaro Kataoka has played a support role for partnerships with researchers and private-sector corporations. He has worked hard to build networks between Japanese and Indian researchers while teaching at IIT-H as an internet technology researcher.

"For starters, we had a really hard time building trust," said Mr. Kataoka. Putting to use the experience he gained while involved in SATREPS at Keio University, the University of Tokyo and IIT-H before this project began, he put together Japanese and Indian researchers while building firm trusting relationships and connections with IIT-H researchers. These led to new research.

"IIT-H students are full of passion about their futures, and they talk about wanting to study abroad or start their own businesses. In this program, I want to encourage Indians to study at Japanese universities and work to strengthen the relationships between Japanese companies and IIT-H," he said.

Designing a school building that uses leading edge technology

Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are the most prominent institutes of higher education for engineering in India. They were established to strengthen the country's engineering human resources. There are 23 campuses throughout the country, and IITs' rate of applications to acceptances is 100 to 1. They are much watched by companies around the world as a trove of human resources that produces elite engineers in cutting edge engineering fields and managers capable of leading global companies such as Google and Microsoft.

photoStudents at Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad do practicum work for a seminar on network architecture and operation.

In Japan, where demand is rapidly increasing for high-level human resources who work in fields such as AI and cybersecurity, big things are expected from partnerships with IITs. JICA has partnered with IIT Kanpur and IIT Madras to nurture managers for the manufacturing industry, in which technological innovation is considered a challenge.

JICA also provided support for the creation of campus buildings and the acquisition of research equipment for IIT-H, which was established in 2008. Educational and research facilities such as Sports and Cultural Complex, Research Center Complex are expected to be completed in 2020. A design team composed mainly of architecture researchers from the University of Tokyo has been in charge of their design since 2011.


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