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NUS to open first overseas research institute in China

SINGAPORE, May 28 -- The National University of Singapore (NUS) is expected to inaugurate its first overseas research institute on Wednesday in an industrial park in China, the university said.

The research institute was established in 2010 as a collaboration project between the university and the Suzhou Industrial Park Administrative Committee. It is located within the Suzhou Industrial Park, a flagship cooperation project between the governments of China and Singapore initiated in the 1990s.

Speaking at a recent media briefing, Xu Guo Qin, director of the institute in China's eastern city of Suzhou, said that it now has some 50 researchers and about 20 administrative staff.

Tan Eng Chye, deputy president and provost at the university, said the number of the researchers is expected to double in a year or so before reaching about 300 within three years as the size of its 11 teams grows in accordance with the grants they get.

The institute is housed in a 9-storey main building and two four-storey side buildings with a total floor area of 21,000 square meters. About 7,000 square meters will be research space.

The institute will be independently operated and managed by NUS.

Tan said that the institute reflects the depth of the bilateral cooperation between China and Singapore and that the institute aims to foster collaborations with China by rooting itself in Suzhou and contribute to the economic and technological advancement of the Jiangsu province as well as China.

Tan said that the institute is aimed to promote research, education and entrepreneurship.

It receives full funding support for the building from the Suzhou Industrial Park in the form of free rental for three years. Tan said the research groups have been able to successfully apply for grants from Chinese authorities, with the sum being 18 million yuan (2.9 million U.S. dollars) for the year 2012 alone.

Tan said the institute will be trying to find areas of overlapping research interests. He cited a recent project on the investigation into the viruses that may do harm to silkworms and the biological mechanisms responsible for the virus infection. Another research project is an effort to devise a rice-fish co- cultivation ecosystem, as Singapore has done extensive research in fish and China is a major rice-growing country.

"While we have the expertise, the value is actually carried over in China. I think we are trying to look for areas like that," Tan said.

The institute will also provide niche training programs for senior Chinese officials in areas like intellectual property management, entrepreneurship, risk management and public policy.

It will also provide networking platforms for students of the university and its Chinese partners.

The universities and colleges in Singapore has had extensive cooperation with Chinese partners and thousands of students study in Singapore. NUS also offers training programs for senior Chinese officials. The Nanyang Technological University, too, is well- known for its training programs for senior Chinese officials and its research collaborations in the Tianjin Eco-City, another flagship cooperation project between the governments of China and Singapore.

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