Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and Western Sydney University, Australia sign MoU to promote neuromorphic engineering

The Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, and Western Sydney University (WSU), Australia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for expanding their ongoing partnership to support cutting-edge research in the area of neuromorphic engineering. This alliance will enable collaborative research and exchange of students between the International Centre for Neuromorphic Systems (ICNS) at WSU and the Brain, Computation and Data Science (BCD) Group at IISc.

The MoU was signed in the presence of Prof. André van Schaik, Director of the International Centre for Neuromorphic Systems, Western Sydney University; Prof. Barney Glover, Vice Chancellor of Western Sydney University; and Prof. Jayant Modak, Deputy Director, IISc.

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“Today’s formalisation of this important collaboration between IISc and WSU marks a significant advancement in research that has the potential to address problems of international significance,” said Prof. van Schaik. “This alliance will enable capacity building in neuromorphic engineering at both institutions, but more crucially, it will develop capacity in this vital research field across the globe.”

Under this agreement, up to six students pursuing their Master’s and PhD studies at IISc will be hosted at WSU each year for a period of 6-12 months to carry out their research with ICNS. IISc will similarly host PhD students from ICNS for 3-6 months allowing them to conduct part of their research at the Institute campus in Bengaluru, India. In the first year WSU will also support an international symposium, which will draw together expertise on neuromorphic engineering from around the globe, joint postdoctoral support and an adjunct appointment for Dr. Chetan Singh Thakur, Assistant Professor, Department of Electronic Systems Engineering, IISc.

An IISc-WSU Neuromorphic Systems Award will also be established providing PhD scholarships to meritorious IISc students who have completed their Master’s project at WSU.

The collaboration has a focus on the translation of research to real-world applications, partnering with industry to co-design research and leveraging these partnerships to achieve commercial outcomes. The joint international symposium supported by WSU will enable the establishment of an Asia-Pacific network which will organise regular academic meetings bringing together leading researchers from across the region and beyond.

ICNS already has a strong relationship with the BCD group with several ongoing collaborative research projects between Dr. Thakur and Prof. André van Schaik. These include projects on the segregation of speech from mixtures using a neuromorphic auditory pathway model, an event-based neural simulator, a silicon retina and a neuromorphic trainable analogue integrated circuit. The current alliance will build on, expand and formalize these collaborative relationships.

ICNS constitutes a core research concentration within WSU’s internationally renowned MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development. It distinguishes itself from other neuromorphic engineering research groups through its core focus on the applications of neuromorphic technology.

In recent years, researchers at IISc have also increasingly been working on neuromorphic approaches to understand brain function.

The research and capacity building that will be realized through this ICNS – BCD alliance will position both IISc and WSU at the forefront of this highly interdisciplinary endeavour.

“Computational approaches to understanding brain function form an important and growing area of interdisciplinary research. Gaining a detailed understanding of the human brain has been termed one of the grandest challenges of the 21st century,” said Prof. Jayant Modak, Deputy Director, IISc. “Many different faculty members interested in different aspects of this problem have recently come together and formed an informal research group on Neuromorphic Engineering and Computation. This group comprises more than twenty faculty members from seven different departments pointing to the interdisciplinary nature of this research endeavour. The group includes researchers in experimental and theoretical neurobiology, artificial intelligence, machine learning, signal processing, electronic systems, hybrid (electronic and neural) hardware systems, etc. The group’s activities are generously funded by an endowment created by Mr. Kris Gopalakrishnan and Mrs. Sudha Gopalakrishnan. The endowment also supports the hosting of three distinguished chair professors, Shihab Shamma (University of Maryland), Vasant Honavar (Penn State), and Christos Papadimitriou (Columbia University).”

“The collaboration with the International Centre for Neuromorphic Systems will be an important initiative for the BCD group at the Indian Institute of Science,” he added. “It will enable synergistic scaling up of the intense research activity in this emerging area.”

About WSU:

Western Sydney University (WSU), Australia. WSU is a world-class university, globally recognised for its research strengths and innovations in teaching and rated 5 stars by QS. It is currently among the top 2% of universities in the world and ranked 70 in Asia Pacific, Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018. Western Sydney University is a registered provider under the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) 00917K.

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About IISc:

The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) was founded in 1909 as a result of a collaborative effort between the visionary industrialist Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, the Government of India and the Maharaja of Mysore. Over the last century, IISc has emerged as India’s premier destination for higher education and advanced research in all science and engineering disciplines. IISc been ranked as the No. 1 university of higher education in India 3 times in a row by the MHRD NIRF rankings. Recently, the Government of India has selected IISc as one of the public institutions of higher education and research to be designated as an Institution of Eminence.

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