Economy

‘We firmly believe in creating value and sharing it with society'

G. Chandrashekhar Mumbai | Updated on March 07, 2011 Published on February 27, 2011

Prof Janusz A. Kozinski, Dean, Faculty of Science and Engineering, York University, Toronto, Canada.

I am enthusiastic that India has a large talent pool, with multitude of science and engineering graduates waiting for right research opportunities. There is synergy between Canada and India in the science and engineering field; and we would be glad to partner India on its way to economic success.

Researchers from the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Toronto's York University are currently touring India on a mission to establish key partnerships and collaborations with Indian research organisations and educational institutions. The delegation of 12 researchers is visiting several top-tier universities and institutes across the country such as the IITs at Chennai and Mumbai, the Indian Space Research Organisation, the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and the University of Kolkata to name a few.

The key mandate for these meetings is to enable researchers from York University and from across India to establish joint bilateral research and developmental projects. York University, the third largest university in Canada is the country's leading interdisciplinary research and teaching institution with an academic community of 50,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff, as well as 200,000 alumni worldwide.

Leader of the delegation is Dr Janusz Kozinski, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, and Professor, Department of Earth and Space Sciences and Engineering. Among others, Dr Kozinski's brainchild is an anti-terrorism project evocatively called eWAR (Early Warning and Advance Response) system that seeks to detect, quantify and initiate an effective response to chemical and biological agents released in public buildings.

In a special interview to Business Line during his visit to this newspaper office in Mumbai despite a hectic schedule, Prof Kozinski shared for the benefit of readers the mission's objectives, research priorities, funding and related matters.

Excerpts:

Welcome to Business Line office, Dr Kozinski. What's the nature of research collaborations you are seeking with Indian institutions?

York University focuses on science and engineering, and our special focus is on striking collaborations and partnerships. India is one of our three focal points. We want to engage in projects with practical social applications.

Specifically, we are looking at, among other areas, space science which would cover micro and nano satellites to carry communications tools. Our focus would also be atmospheric monitoring to study global warming and climate change.

Also, we are keen to develop partnerships in the field of biotechnology for healthcare; analyse propagation of infectious diseases – their origin, spread, control and eradication through bio-sensors.

For this purpose, we have already set off talks with India's leading institutions such as IIT Chennai and Mumbai, TIFR, ISRO and so on, and their response is absolutely positive.

Why the focus on India?

Canada and India have a long and sustained relationship. Nearly a tenth of the Canadian society comprises people of Indian origin. Also, I am enthusiastic that India has a large talent pool, with multitude of science and engineering graduates waiting for right research opportunities. There is synergy between Canada and India in the science and engineering field; and we would be glad to partner India on its way to economic success.

But let me clarify that we are not focusing just on India's flagship educational institutions. Over time, we will go to smaller and private institutions too and seek to work with them.

What about funding?

I don't see this as a problem, although no research can take place without adequate finances. We have set aside several million dollars for our international partnership programmes and I am confident that India will get a good share of it.

Any thoughts on how the fruits of research will be shared?

We firmly believe in creating value and sharing it with the society. Where societal benefits are involved, I am somewhat wary of creating barriers like intellectual property rights and so on. We want the society at large to benefit from our research.

Did your mission achieve any success so far?

Yes, of course. We have signed a memorandum of understanding with Chennai IIT focussing on energy including nuclear energy, medicinal chemistry as also water quality and management. With TIFR we have advanced our discussions focussing on life sciences, biology, genomics, and research relating to vaccines as also engineering projects relating to space.

What next?

On March 1, we have planned a two-day workshop in New Delhi with the Defence Research and Development Organisation and other leading national and international institutions that will bring together over 100 participants and provide a platform to discuss advances and innovations in several areas of research. I am confident that the workshop will throw up new ideas and open up collaborative opportunities for York University.

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Published on February 27, 2011
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