Rice Becomes First US University to Establish Joint Research Center in India
In January 2020, Rice University and the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IITK) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at a historic event held at IITK. In signing the MoU, the two universities agree to share resources and perform research in the development of energy solutions, materials, and sustainable technologies and then expand to other areas. Rice is the first American university to have a physical presence in India.
The Rice–IITK Research Center, located at IITK, will focus on designing and developing materials and processes for solar photovoltaics, energy storage, alternative fuels, electrocatalysis, and water.
“The Bhupat & Jyoti Mehta Family Foundation (MFF) is proud to support the creation of the Rice/IITK Research Center. This agreement is the first of many we hope to support,” said MFF CEO Rahul Mehta. “As a team, Rice and IITK, two world-class institutions, have the potential to improve their quality, reach, and impact and develop greater and more diverse solutions to problems in our world today. We are honored to have been a part of crafting this relationship.”
The partnership will facilitate deeper levels of collaboration and exchange of knowledge and perspectives, creating opportunities for innovative and groundbreaking ideas between faculty and researchers, who are expected to jointly supervise graduate students, publish high-impact joint research papers, and garner funds from both federal agencies and industrial sponsors through joint research grants.
“With the revolution in technological advances and world developing at a rapid rate, energy needs are going to be a significant challenge in the future,” said Professor Abhay Karandikar, director of IITK. “IITK and Rice University, being at the forefront of cutting-edge research in energy solutions, are in an excellent position to be steering the path for international collaborative research in this area. We are especially thankful to Mr. Rahul Mehta, Mehta Family Foundation for his key role in bringing the two institutions together and making the collaboration a reality.”
Rice professor and MFF CARE advisor Ajayan Pulickel agreed. “The Rice–IITK Research Center will be a binding force between the two institutions. IITK is a premier institution in India and very similar to Rice in size. This is a golden opportunity, something that we’ve always wanted to do with a partner in India that seems synergistic in many ways.”
“For the first time, Rice faculty and students can spend substantial time at IITK,” said Professor Ashish Garg. “It will become their new home in India, and they will become part of our family during their visit. We envision that the deep relationship between IITK and Rice will become a benchmark for academic and research collaboration and partnerships.”
“This is a key relationship in our new partnership strategy for international engagement and impact,” said Rice University President David Leebron. “India is one of our top priorities and IITK is widely acknowledged as one of the best universities in India. We’re very excited about this pathbreaking collaboration to devise solutions to the energy and environmental challenges we face.”