First US University to establish a joint research center in India

Rice University establishes a long-term strategic partnership at Indian Institute of Technology – Kanpur

Kanpur, January 9, 2020 

Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IITK) and Rice University signed a memorandum of understanding today at a historic event held at IITK. By signing the agreement, 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.

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,” he added.

“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. IIT Kanpur 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” said Prof. Karandikar, Director, IITK.

Through this MoU, Rice University is the first US university to have a physical presence in India in the form of Rice–IITK Research Center, located at IIT Kanpur. This center is expected to facilitate deeper levels of collaborations leading to exchange of knowledge and perspectives, enabling fertilization of ground-breaking ideas between the faculty members and researchers of Rice and IITK. This will create a fertile ground for both the institutes to undertake grand challenges in the area of sustainable energy and environment. In its initial phase, Center’s research focus will be on designing and developing materials and processes for solar photovoltaics, energy storage, alternative fuels, electrocatalysis and water. Researchers on the two sides 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. 

“The Center will facilitate faculty, staff and student exchanges between the two institutes for promotion of joint research in the areas of energy, materials and sustainability. “The collaboration will be fructified in a physical Rice-IITK Research Center, which will impart training to the students and researchers and conduct research in areas related to clean and sustainable energy technologies and practices in the early stage of its inception, with possibility of expansion into various other areas of not only science and engineering but also humanities. Both institutes shall appoint Faculty in-charges on each side for managing and coordinating Center activities” said Professor Abhay Karandikar, Director, IITK.

“This agreement today is the first of many we hope to support.  This association has the potential to improve the quality, reach, and impact of both organizations.  By bringing together two world class institutions as a team, they can accomplish deeper and more diverse solutions to problems in our world today.  The Mehta Family Foundation is proud to support the creation of the Rice/IITK Research Center.  We are honored to have been a part of crafting this relationship.” said Rahul Mehta, CEO, Mehta Family Foundation

Rice/IITK research center will be a binding force between the two institutions,” said Professor Ajayan Pulickel, Rice University Faculty-in-Charge of the Center. “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. It will become their new home in India. They will become part of our family during their visit.  We envisage that that the deep relationship between IITK and Rice will become a benchmark for academic and research collaboration and partnerships.” said Prof. Garg, Faculty-in-Charge of the Center.

 “The MoU with Rice is concurrent with the vision of IITK to liaise with selected top universities to enhance its global portfolio with an aim to conduct top quality research driven by exchanges between faculty members, researchers and students between the two institutes,” said Professor Joshi, IITK.

The MoU was signed by Prof. Abhay Karandikar, Director, IITK, and Dr. Seiichi Matsuda, Interim Provost, Rice University. To signify the commitment from Rice University towards this partnership, Dean of the George R. Brown School of Engineering Reginald DesRoches; Vice President for Global and Digital Strategy Caroline Levander; Senior Fellow and Professor in the Practice Ed Emmett; Pulickel Ajayan, the Benjamin M. and Mary Greenwood Anderson Professor in Engineering and Chair, Department of Materials Science & Nano Engineering and Satish Nagarajaiah, Professor of Civil & Mechanical Engineering were present at the event.

From IIT Kanpur, Prof. S. Ganesh, Dean of Research & Development and Prof. Yogesh Joshi, Dean of International Relations, Ashish Garg, Professor and Materials Science & Engineering were also present at this historic event.

About IIT Kanpur:

Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur is a premier institution set up by the Government of India. Registered in 1959, the institute was assisted by nine leading institutions of U.S.A in the setting up of its academic programs and laboratories during the period 1962-72. With its record of path-breaking innovations and cutting-edge research, the institute is recognized all over the world as a learning center of high repute in engineering, science, and several inter-disciplinary areas. In addition to formal undergraduate and postgraduate courses, the institute has been active in research and development in areas of value to both industry and government.

About Rice University:

Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,962 undergraduates and 3,027 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is just under 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for lots of race/class interaction and No. 4 for quality of life by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

About Mehta Family Foundation:

For over twenty years, the Mehta Family Foundation has supported initiatives across the world, improving the quality of life and access to education. Over the years, the Foundation has funded over 100 organizations to promote education and healthcare.

The current focus is improving economic outcomes for both the individual and society via the following initiatives:

  • Growing the intellectual talent in India by creating new Doctoral, Master’s and Bachelor’s programs
  • Promoting education awareness globally through a partnership with the Nobel Prize Foundation
  • Improving research capacity in Indian universities by building partnerships with global institutions