Singapore's SMART Centre to be intellectual hub for global researchers


MIT Provost Rafael Reif and Dr. Tony Tan, Chairman of
Singapore's National Research Foundation (NRF), announced Jan. 23 the
official launch of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and
Technology Centre, or SMART Centre. The SMART Centre is the first
entity in CREATE, which stands for Campus for Research Excellence and
Technological Enterprise, a complex of research centres from Singapore,
world-class research universities and corporate labs.

SMART is
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) largest international
research endeavor and the first research center of its kind located
outside Cambridge, Mass. It will offer laboratories and computational
facilities for research in several areas, including biomedical science,
water resources and the environment, and possible additional research
thrusts that encompass such topics as interactive digital media,
energy, and scientific and engineering computation.

Besides
serving as an intellectual hub for robust interactions between MIT and
global researchers in Singapore, the SMART Centre will also provide MIT
and Singapore new and unique opportunities to perform interdisciplinary
experimental, computational and translational research that takes
advantage of MIT's long-standing collaborations in Singapore. The
Centre, initially headed by MIT Professor Thomas Magnanti, will be a
magnet for attracting and anchoring research talent from Asia and all
over the world.

To mark the close collaboration between NRF, MIT
and the Ministry of Education (MOE), the MOE will be matching
dollar-for-dollar donations and gifts to SMART for the establishment of
Singapore Research Professorship Chairs at MIT. These chairs will be
held by tenured MIT faculty and principal/senior researchers who are
actively involved with research programs in the SMART Centre.

SMART
will also create an Innovation Centre linked to the highly successful
Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at MIT. This Innovation
Centre will identify and nurture innovative ideas from emerging
technologies and accelerate their migration from laboratories to
practical commercial applications that, in many cases, will occur
through the creation of business enterprises with funding from external
investors. The Innovation Centre activities will be seamlessly
coordinated at MIT through the newly established International
Innovation Initiative, or I3, that will provide a platform for
establishing educational and research activities with strategic
international partners by applying the best practices of MIT's
Deshpande Center.

SMART will establish five interdisciplinary
research groups (IRGs). The research themes will focus on problems that
are of societal significance. The first two IRGs are already
operational--one is Infectious Diseases, headed by MIT Professor
Jianzhu Chen, and the other is a Center for Environmental Sensing and
Modeling, or CENSAM, headed by MIT Professor Andrew Whittle. A third
IRG is tentatively scheduled to launch in fall 2008.

The IRGs
will be led by senior MIT faculty and researchers who will spend
extended periods at SMART. MIT research scientists, postdoctoral
students, and graduate and undergraduate students will be actively
involved and also spend time in residence. The National University of
Singapore and the Nanyang Technological University, with other local
research institutions, are partnering with MIT as local principal
investigators in the research programs.

MIT Provost Reif said, "MIT is enormously pleased to join
with the National Research Foundation in establishing the SMART Centre.
We are also both proud and honored that NRF has selected MIT to be the
first of several entities to be co-located at CREATE. This
groundbreaking collaboration for NRF and MIT provides an excellent
opportunity for MIT to engage in research with Singapore and global
researchers based here, and reflects our joint commitment to addressing
critical issues and developing innovative and creative ways to solve
them. We hope the research conducted at the SMART Centre will transform
the development of engineering, technology and science in the decades
ahead."

Dr.
Tan said, "The launch of SMART Centre is a significant milestone in
Singapore's research and innovation landscape. It not only seals
Singapore's 10-year relationship with MIT through the Singapore-MIT
Alliance (SMA), it is also a meaningful tie-up with a renowned U.S.
university, whose strong commitment to marry excellent teaching and
research with innovation and entrepreneurship has spawned a host of
scientific breakthroughs, technological advances and high-growth
companies. Our universities must embrace a culture of academic
entrepreneurship, like MIT, in order to play an active role in
contributing to the economic development of Singapore."


Topics: Global

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