Global Partnership to Enhance Northwestern Innovations

By Roger AndersonDecember 13, 2016

Northwestern and the Beijing Institute of Collaborative Innovation (BICI) signed a Master Research Agreement on December 12 that will bring at least $5 million in sponsored research to the University. The partnership will fund key research initiatives in areas of material systems and simulations, with emphasis on energy materials, advanced manufacturing, medical devices and diagnostics, water treatment, and optoelectronics devices and materials.

BICI is composed of more than a dozen Chinese universities and 100 industry-leading companies. The nonprofit organization employs collaborative and innovative approaches to bring university technologies to market.

Jay Walsh, vice president for research, welcomed Xinjian Zhou, associate dean of BICI, to the Evanston campus before the pair signed an agreement that will result in at least  $1 million in annual research funding for five years. In addition, BICI will establish post-doctoral fellowships at Northwestern and fund suitable translational research as part of the partnership.

“I hope this momentum continues,” says Walsh, who will travel to China in January 2017 to see BICI’s growing infrastructure. “There is a great opportunity here to take technology developed at Northwestern and enhance it in a way that could impact consumers on a global scale.”

Founded in 2014, BICI has 18 collaborative innovation centers and branch offices in California and Hong Kong. The group also recently announced partnerships with the University of Michigan and Tsinghua University.

The Northwestern partnership was largely attributed to the long-term collaboration that Wing K. Liu, the Walter P. Murphy Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Civil Engineering, has developed with Peking University and the effort of various Northwestern units led by Jian Cao, associate vice president for research and the Cardiss Collins Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

“This BICI center will be an active element in the large ecosystem of the Northwestern Initiative on Manufacturing Science and Innovation (NIMSI) by stimulating the integration of basic sciences and global innovation through product realization and manufacturing,” says Cao, NIMSI director.

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Joseph (Jay) WalshJian Cao