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Pictured (l-r): V. Rajarajan, registrar, Indian Institute of Science; Anurag Kumar, director (president), Indian Institute of Science; Tim Killeen, President, University of Illinois System; Ramón Cepeda, Trustee, University of Illinois System

The University of Illinois System signed agreements for new academic and research partnerships with seven of India’s top universities and research agencies during a weeklong visit to India by President Tim Killeen and a delegation of system and university officials.

Under the agreements, Indian institutions will collaborate with the U of I System’s three universities on initiatives such as student and faculty exchange programs, teaching and curricula, and research in important areas including healthcare, engineering and sustainability.

Some of the agreements will also connect leading faculty in India with the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI), a pioneering new research center led by the U of I System that will foster innovation to address real-world challenges and drive social and economic growth.

Killeen said the trip – from Dec. 1-8 – is part of ongoing efforts to create the international ties that will ensure world-class programs to serve students and the public good. Global impact is a goal of a strategic framework approved to guide the U of I System’s future and earlier trips have taken U of I officials to Singapore and Taiwan, Mexico and Israel.

“We are committed to new partnerships at home and around the world that support our students and our excellence – promoting opportunity, diversity, and educational and research programs with global impact,” Killeen said.

During the trip, from Dec. 1-8, the system signed agreements to facilitate collaborations with the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India’s top-ranked public university; the Birla Institute of Technology & Science in Pilani, the nation’s top private university; and the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, a national leader in engineering.

Other agreements will build partnerships with Gokula Education Foundation, a charitable trust that operates the MS Ramaiah Medical College and the MSR University of Applied Sciences; Kerala Startup Mission, a government agency that promotes business incubator and entrepreneurship programs; the Information and Communication Technology Academy of Kerala, a non-profit agency that helps give students relevant employment and life skills; and the Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management in Kerala, where educational programs include advanced levels of computer science.

“I was impressed by the spirit and breadth of collaboration between higher education, government and industry that is driving India’s rise as a leader in innovation,” said Ramon Cepeda, a member of the U of I System’s Board of Trustees who was part of the delegation. “Combining the world-class resources of the U of I System and our new partners in India will accelerate breakthroughs that will fuel the next waves of progress and economic growth.”

The trip also included a meeting with senior leadership of Haryana Agricultural University, a national leader that already has an existing partnership with the U of I System; and visits to the Energy and Resources Institute, a research center focused on the environment and sustainability; the Indian government’s Department of Science & Technology, which promotes high-tech research and innovation; the Ministry for Electronics and Information Technology, a government agency whose missions include empowering citizens through internet governance; Axilor Ventures Private Ltd., a seed fund for early-stage startups; and Infosys Techologies, one of India’s leading technology services and software development companies.

Killeen also presented an address on DPI and the U of I System’s innovation efforts at the Observer Research Foundation, an independent think tank similar to the Brookings Institute in the U.S. The foundation provides guidance for government and industry to strengthen India’s democracy, improve governance and better the quality of life for India’s citizens.

Dozens of officials from industry, government and non-profits attended the address, which included an outline of the system’s efforts to build global partnerships at DPI. The research center will be built in Chicago, bringing together well over 100 top researchers who will focus on real-world challenges in critical fields such as health care, computing and data science, food security and the environment. Researchers will work side-by-side with students and businesses to foster next-generation innovation that lifts society, drives progress and accelerates economic growth.

Killeen was joined on the trip by Ramon Cepeda, a member of the Board of Trustees; Ed Seidel, vice president for economic development and innovation; interim DPI director Bill Sanders; Pradeep Khanna, interim associate vice president for corporate and international engagement; Narendra Ahuja, a professor of electrical and computer engineering from Urbana; Rohit Bhargava, a professor of bioengineering from Urbana; Kesh Kesavadas, a professor of industrial and enterprise systems engineering from Urbana; Rachel Havrelock, a professor of English from UIC; and Bellur Prabhakar, associate dean for technological innovation and training at the UIC College of Medicine.