Thales partners with IITs, IISc for doctoral fellowships

Amrita Nair Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on January 16, 2018 Published on October 17, 2016

Indian Institute of Science , Bengaluru. - Sreenivasa Murthy

Four students to be selected for the joint programme in the first batch

Collaborating with universities across the globe is a key aspect of innovation at Thales, a French defence company. Known for its innovative research and technology projects with France’s prestigious universities, Thales now has close ties with academic partners in India.

Best known for its work in weapons manufacture, Thales makes electrical systems for defence, aerospace and transportation. The company’s defence and security segment is its largest. However, to develop the technologies it needs, Thales relies heavily on cooperation between its research teams and the academic world.

To that end, this September, Thales and the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT Delhi) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to create a jointly supervised IIT Delhi-CNRS PhD fellowship programme. In the first batch, up to four students would be selected for research in advanced electronics, electromagnetics and complex systems engineering.

Tie-ups in India

Antoine Caput, Vice President and Country Director-India, Thales, says India is a source of rich talent. He adds that by building partnerships with industrial and scientific communities, the company looks to enhance the synergies among industrial groups, innovation driven companies and training and research institutions.

“Through collaborations with Indian academic institutions, we can contribute to the Indian government’s mission of skilling and up-skilling people, and its focus on enhancing the research and development fields in India,” said Caput, adding: “Thales looks at working for India and from India to extend its global performance and presence.”

Since inventing a flagship product or solution is a process, Thales tends to rely on the creativity and technology expertise of a whole ecosystem of stakeholders, including academic researchers and customers.

Thales had also signed a similar MoU with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, to create a jointly supervised IIT Bombay-CNRS PhD fellowship scheme starting July 2016. Previously, Thales had signed an MoU with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore in October 2015.

Thales is interested in areas such as advanced electronics and electromagnetics. The IISc has considerable expertise in the areas, which will be considered for the Thales PhD Fellowship Programme for IISc students. The students benefiting from these jointly supervised PhD fellowships will have a PhD supervisor in India and a co-supervisor in France, from one of the identified CNRS laboratories. A joint degree option between IISc and French institutions is also being explored.

Close on the heels of the tie-ups with Universities in the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, Australia and Singapore, Thales’ academic research network has been expanding to include universities in emerging economies. The company works primarily with governments. In 2014, the company generated revenues of €13 billion.

Innovation at the core

The evolution of new global technologies and threats has ensured that most of Thales’s business activities are technology intensive, making innovation a strategic priority and the driving force behind the long-term development of the Thales Group.

“Innovation is integral to Thales,” said Caput. “Much of Thales’ capabilities in innovation come from its staff, a third of whom are engineers, and their skills and know-how.”

In June 2014, Thales opened an Innovation Hub in Hong Kong. In October the same year, another Innovation Hub was opened in Singapore, the company’s first multidisciplinary innovation centre outside Europe. The company’s ‘pivot to Asia’ is expected to bring Thales direct insights into local attitudes and approaches to innovation.

Caput added that Thales invests 20 per cent of its annual revenues in research and development (R&D). “The focus on innovation enables Thales to deliver solutions that are attractive, add value and differentiate Thales from competition,” he added.

The company has invested over €2.5 billion in R&D. Caput went on to add that Thales “has been and will continue to invest in India by partnering with customers, universities, commercial and technology partners, and hire and train local people to be as local as possible.”

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Published on October 17, 2016
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