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The University of Oxford has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a new collaboration with the Kerala University of Digital Sciences, Innovation and Technology in India (known as Digital University Kerala or DUK).

University of Oxford representatives (Professor Haris Bhaskaran, far left, and Professor Graham Taylor, left of centre) at the signing ceremony for a new Memorandum of Understanding with Digital University Kerala, together with representatives from the State of Kerala, including the Chief Minister of Kerala, Mr Pinarayi Vijayan (front centre), pictured in a function room in central London
Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in London

The agreement aims to advance research and academic exchange in the fields of nanotechnology, artificial intelligence (AI), sustainability, digital health, and innovation.

Professor Graham Taylor (Deputy Head of the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division at the University of Oxford) attended a meeting in London on 11 October, with Keralan representatives including Mr Pinarayi Vijayan (Chief Minister of Kerala) and Dr Saji Gopinath (Vice-Chancellor of DUK), to formalise the agreement.

The two universities will initially focus on facilitating links for doctoral training, Professorships and academic engagement, postdoctoral research exchange and engagement, and translation and innovation support, with a view to working towards a longer-term funded research initiative.

Speaking after the ceremony, Professor Taylor said: "Oxford University is delighted and excited to engage with Digital University Kerala on research and innovation in nanotechnology, AI, sustainability, and digital health. Each of these fields is a cornerstone of the new Innovation Districts we are creating in Oxford, and of the Digital Science Parks that DUK is now creating in Kerala. We look forward to exploring the many opportunities this opens up for forging new links and collaborations.”

The initiative has been spearheaded at Oxford by Harish Bhaskaran, Professor of Applied Nanomaterials in the Department of Materials, who also attended the ceremony in London. He said: "The University of Oxford has created an entire economic ecosystem on the back of its world-class research. It is exciting to help partner with a conceptually new digital University to help achieve the same in Kerala, using our unique strengths in both fundamental science and engineering research to translate into commercialisation”.

Professor Alex James, Academic Dean at Digital University Kerala, is driving the initiative in Kerala. He said: "This engagement will spark new ideas in the next generation of innovators, to create a knowledge-driven economy in Kerala, through building capacity in emerging materials, electronics and AI, for driving hardware start-up and product ecosystems”.

DUK is one of India’s emerging centres for digital science and technology education and research. Founded in 2000 as an Indian Institute of Information of Information Technology, it achieved University status and moved to a new campus in January 2020, with a mission to support India’s emerging knowledge economy by promoting cutting-edge research and innovation and contributing towards a responsible digital world.

DUK also signed collaborative agreements with the University of Edinburgh and the University of Manchester this week, to further its research and international co-operation in the field of nanotechnology.