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Virginia Tech sets up research unit in India

The Hindu BusinessLine:  May, 2014

Chennai: US-based university Virginia Tech, in association with infrastructure development company Marg Group, has set up a research centre for sustainable technologies near Chennai.

The 30-acre Institute of Critical Technology and Applied Science is located at MARG Swarnabhoomi, an integrated township . The Institute will work on sustainable technologies in energy, water, renewable materials, and nano-scale science and engineering.

Over $3 million has been invested in the research centre set up through a joint trust – Virginia Tech Marg Swarnabhoomi India Trust.

Knowledge capital

This is the second such research centre outside of the US, apart from the unit in Switzerland, set up to harness the “considerable knowledge capital” in India, said Charles W Steger, President, Virginia Tech. The university had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Marg in 2010 for an educational institute but the uncertainty over educational reforms in the country has forced it to go for a research institute, said GRK Reddy, Chairman and Managing Director, Marg Group.

The industry can sponsor research by paying a membership fee of $40,000 dollars a year, and obtain non-exclusive rights to the intellectual property developed at the institute, said Roop Mahajan, a Director at Virginia Tech’s research campus in the US.

“For exclusive rights, the company concerned may have to pay a higher amount,” he added.

The research unit in the US has developed new technologies in autonomous systems, which finds use in making driverless cars.

The centre has three employees as of now, plans to increase staff strength to 28 by 2017.