Scientists from the University of British Columbia, University of Alberta, University of Toronto and 11 leading institutions in India are joining forces to tackle urgent issues in both countries with a $30-million partnership.
Supported by the Canadian government and state and industry partners in India, the India-Canada Centre for Innovative Multidisciplinary Partnerships to Accelerate Community Transformation and Sustainability, or IC-IMPACTS, will focus on water safety, disease prevention and treatment, and the development of safe and sustainable civil infrastructure. It will also support new technology spinoffs and the training of more than 700 students and researchers.
Through the development, deployment and commercialization of new technologies, and the training and exchange of students and researchers, IC-IMPACTS is expected to generate economic benefits for both nations while building research capacity and solving issues of importance to both countries.
The partnership was formally launched today in New Delhi by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who was joined by UBC President Stephen Toope, U of T President David Naylor and U of A Vice-President (Research) Lorne Babiuk.
Hosted at UBC with the full partnership of U of T and U of A, IC-IMPACTS’s research programs will be led by three world-renowned Canadian scientists. Partner communities in India and Canada are being identified as collaborators and early adopters of new technologies (see background). The three interconnected research programs are:
The Sustainable and Safe Infrastructure research program, led by IC-IMPACTS Scientific Director and UBC Civil Engineering Prof. Nemy Banthia, will develop new tools to assess the condition of aging concrete structures and develop low-cost, cement-based building materials reinforced with fibre from agricultural waste.
The Integrated Water Management research program, led by U of A Mechanical Engineering Prof. Sushanta Mitra, will develop, test and implement new technologies to monitor water quality and treat potable and waste water.
The Public Health Disease Prevention and Treatment research program, led by U of T Pharmacy Prof. Lakshmi Kotra, will monitor drug resistance to malaria and fungal infections, and develop new treatments to control the spread of resistance in infectious diseases.
NB: U of A President Indira Samarasekera is available for interviews in Canada, please contact Deb Hammacher (780-492-8458 or 780-233-7269) to arrange.
UBC President Stephen Toope and U of T President David Naylor are available from New Delhi upon request; please contact Randy Schmidt (604-822-1266 or 604-828-0787) for Prof. Toope and Laurie Stephens (416-978-2105) for President Naylor.
Pradipta Banerji, director of the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, is available for media while travelling in Germany. He can be reached by cellphone at +91-750-066-2233 or by E-mail at email@example.com.
BACKGROUND | IC-IMPACTS
Indira Samarasekera, President, University of Alberta
“The University of Alberta is proud to be joining forces with our colleagues at UBC and the University of Toronto – in the best spirit of public research universities – to bring our expertise to bear on some of the most pressing health and environmental challenges in India. For the U of A, this builds upon a great deal of existing collaboration with researchers and organizations in India. In particular this allows us to share our strength in water, agriculture and health research.”
David Naylor, President, University of Toronto
“The University of Toronto is tremendously excited to join this effort to create healthy, safe and sustainable communities in India and Canada. A partnership of this magnitude provides great opportunities for our students and scientists to collaborate on ground-breaking research, and to develop technological solutions with a global impact.”
Stephen Toope, President, University of British Columbia
“Collectively, UBC, U of A and U of T have an impressive track record of international research collaboration in India that bring about tangible changes to communities. This partnership, unprecedented in scale, will allow us to find – and apply – solutions to some of the most pressing issues in both Canadian and Indian communities.”
Pradipta Banerji, Director, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee
“This is an exciting opportunity to create a paradigm shift in the India-Canada relationship through transformational research connections.”
The $30-million IC-IMPACTS is supported by a $13.8-million grant from the Canadian government’s Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) Program. The Canadian universities will invest $3.75 million, the Indian institutions will invest nearly $4 million and the Indian State of Gujarat is contributing $3 million towards the partnership. The remainder consists of cash and in-kind contributions come from Public Health Ontario, the Public Health Foundation of India, and other non-profit and industry partners.
Examples of community partnerships
In consultation with local government, industry and non-profit groups, Banga, Nagpur and Roorkee have partnered with IC-IMPACTS to help develop and implement new technologies to address water safety, disease prevention and treatment and sustainable infrastructure. Ranging in population from 300,000 to 4.5 million, the three cities share similar challenges.
For example, Banga and Nagpur rely strongly on thermal power plants, producing large quantities of fly-ash waste. IC-IMPACTS researchers will investigate the feasibility of using fly-ash as a cement replacement for new constructions.
Agricultural waste and natural fibres such as cotton are also plentiful in these communities, allowing researchers to explore using natural fibres to reinforce non-structural building materials such as roofing, siding and flooring.
Nagpur and Roorkee are both situated in seismic zones and civil infrastructure has badly deteriorated. IC-IMPACTS researchers will assess, monitor and devise a strategy for strengthening public buildings.
Similar community partnerships will be developed in each of the other research program areas in water management and health and disease prevention.
In Canada, planning and consultation are underway with a number of First Nations communities in Ontario and British Columbia and the Village of Thorsby in Alberta to partner with IC-IMPACTS.