A number of Irish universities and institutes of technology have opened their doors to Chinese research as part of a series of new deals signed between them and Chinese universities.

The first of these was Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) signing an agreement with Chengdu’s University of Electronic Science and Technology (UESTC) to open the Irish-Sino Research and Innovation Institute for Novel and Emerging Sciences and Technologies (NEST).

At the signing ceremony in the Irish embassy in Beijing, the two institutions said NEST will promote collaborative research and development, joint PhD supervision and publications; host mutual visits from professors and research staff employed by each institution; and compete for EU, Chinese and international funding.

DIT said that this is the first instance where a Chinese university has established an overseas research and development organisation in Ireland, with DIT now having access to an institution among the top 30 in China.

“We are excited for phase one to begin, which will see researchers from both institutes work together to target funding opportunities to help find real-world solutions in the areas of ICT, machine learning with wireless network management, wireless communications and medical applications, personalised medicine; and the application of computational intelligence technologies to a variety of real-world problems,” said Prof Brian O’Neill, director of research, innovation and enterprise at DIT.

AI, robotics and electronic engineering

UESTC vice-president Prof Xiong Caidong, meanwhile, said the university was looking forward to collaborating with Irish research.

“Ireland’s higher education has rich experience in innovative talent training, integration of industry and education, and transformation of scientific and technological achievements,” he said. “UESTC will focus on promoting the cooperation with DIT at this new starting point.”

A second deal was signed at the Irish embassy in Beijing between Maynooth University and Fuzhou University to establish a new international college of engineering that will see 1,200 Chinese students graduate with Irish degrees in computer science, electronic engineering and robotics over the next four years. The signatories of the deal said that it will pave the way for future research and innovation partnerships, particularly in the fields of computer science and AI.

Speaking of the deal, Maynooth University president Prof Philip Nolan said: “Fuzhou University is one of China’s leading universities, and a long-term partnership is the appropriate and ambitious way forward to develop a flow of knowledge, research and students between our two institutions.”

Dublin City University (DCU) was also in China to officially launch a two-year collaborative master’s in electronic and computer engineering with Wuhan University (WHU). The first intake of 30 students is planned for September 2019 and students will be recruited through the Chinese National Postgraduate Entrance Examination. Students will spend the first year studying at WHU and the second year at DCU, earning a dual degree.

Athlone Institute of Technology, meanwhile, gave the green light to a new joint graphic design programme with Jianghan University.

Colm Gorey

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