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Uof T to set up School of Cities Alliance in India to contribute to Smart Cities mission

Posted on Monday, December 17, 2018

Ted Sargent from U of T talks about Indo-Canadian partnership to foster research innovation and entrepreneurial culture in India, reports Rajlakshmi Ghosh

University of Toronto and Tata Trusts have entered into a collaboration to set up an urban research centre and an entrepreneurship hub in India. The aim is to create opportunities for scholars and innovators in both countries to work on research initiatives in diverse fields including science, transportation, urban policy, architecture, business and public health to provide access to new markets, says Ted Sargent, Professor of Engineering and vice president International, University of Toronto.

The Centre will house the School of Cities Alliance, allowing Indian and Canadian scholars and innovators to translate research into high-impact solutions for low resource settings to address socio-economic and environmental issues. Incidentally, the School of Cities is a new creation at U of T to bring together different faculty-- from architects and designers to urban planners, civil engineers as well as economists, business school professors, people from public health, environmental science and more-- to create an inter-disciplinary platform to work on urban challenges.

The School of Cities partnership will focus on poverty reduction, urban innovation, digital infrastructure, transit planning and systems, says Sargent, adding, “Plans are underway to skill the next generation of urban scholars to address their community’s challenges and opportunities, besides enabling them to build networks with their global counterparts. Courses will be developed jointly by U of T and partner institutions such as IIT-Bombay (IIT-B) that are interdisciplinary and engage students to produce case studies for Indian cities. The School will also support international doctoral clusters to enable balanced PhD mobility across institutions and co-supervision with India and U of T.

“This agreement will create options for Canadian undergraduates and graduates to study abroad, with hands-on involvement in research. The focus of the initiative is to establish a network of Indian and Canadian researchers to contribute to India’s Smart Cities mission,” adds Sargent.

The research centre is expected to open in 2019 with several cities under consideration, including Mumbai and Bangalore. The university and Tata Trusts are also creating an entrepreneurship centre in which the network of entrepreneurs and innovators can exchange ideas, capital and resources.

Past tie-ups

Both Tata Trusts and U of T have been long-time collaborators working with researchers to tackle health care, water, energy and poverty challenges. One such instance is a Tata-funded initiative led by Levente Diosady, professor emeritus of food engineering in the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering. He developed iron- and iodine-enriched salt to help improve the lives of people living in Uttar Pradesh, many of whom suffer from anaemia.

In 2017, U of T, Tata Trusts, and the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) co-hosted a Smart Cities workshop led by Mark Fox, professor of urban systems engineering in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering. Last year, U of T entered into a partnership with the city of Pune and IIT-B to find tech-based solutions to urban problems.




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