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February 12, 2009
SINGAPORE, Feb. 12 -- The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Illinois) announced that it has opened its first research centre outside the United States at Singapore's Fusionopolis in a landmark collaboration with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).
Called the Advanced Digital Sciences Centre (ADSC), the centre is an extension of the University's top-ranked computer engineering, computer science and supercomputing application programmes that have turned out innovations such as Mosaic, the Web browser credited with popularising the World Wide Web, and many a famous alumnus in top technology companies. These include Youtube co-founders Javed Karim and Steve Chen, Microsoft's Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie who also created Lotus Notes, Max Levchin, the co-founder and CTO for PayPal, Tom Siebel founder of Siebel Systems -- now Oracle's Siebel CRM, the premier customer relationship software; Jerry Sanders a co-founder and long-time CEO of semi-conductor manufacturer Advanced Micro Devices. The centre is championed by the highest echelons of Illinois' leadership. It is part of the University's bold vision to establish global centres of research and learning to offer its faculty and students more diverse learning environments and experiences.
With a focus on research in digital sciences, the campus will raise Singapore's position as a hub for cutting-edge research and complement the country's strategic thrust in Interactive & Digital Media. The first signature programme is Human Sixth Sense Programme that is a collaboration between Illinois and A*STAR. It aims to overcome existing limitations of information being underutilised because it is locked in different databases and systems across a range of media, and designed for display in a myriad of devices. Instead, computers will be given a "sixth sense" to provide users only with information relevant to them, delivered in a high-resolution, multimedia format on any device, anytime and anywhere, and across a secure setting. A positive outcome of HSSP could be the sending of timely information directly to the mobile devices of fire-fighters who are trapped in burning buildings to inform them of the best escape routes. The information of escape routes would have been derived by "sixth sense" from analysing the existing blueprints and infrastructure. Other positive outcomes could also include allowing doctors across continents simultaneous access to vast amounts of multimedia and textual medical database to treat diseases, and giving investors timely access to financial information to help them make prime investment decisions.
Nineteen full-time and visiting Illinois faculty will staff the centre, including world-renowned researchers in information technology, Professors Benjamin Wah, Ravi Iyer and William Sanders, the first of whom will serve as a full-time Director in Singapore. Forty A*STAR PhD scholars are expected to be trained at ADSC. Twenty-five post-doctoral students will be based at ADSC, and forty Illinois graduate students will be attached to the Centre for part of their PhD projects. In addition, the programme is expected to nurture research collaborations between Illinois and A*STAR researchers.
Said Illinois Chancellor, Richard Herman, "A world-class university should be open and engaged with the world. Our research centre at Singapore will allow us to deliver University of Illinois education and degrees to a whole new contingent of students."
He added, "We live in very exciting times, with unprecedented opportunities for new partnerships among government, academia and industry. Singapore, with its proactive government, modern infrastructure, investment in research and higher education, and a talented and diverse population is the perfect nation to enter into such a partnership. This Illinois-Singapore collaboration is a bold commitment to building a better future, and is most striking especially at a time when the current global financial crisis might cause others to retreat or scale back their intentions."
Said A*STAR Chairman Mr Lim Chuan Poh, "The physical presence of a top university like Illinois will add to Singapore's attraction as a world class international research hub. It will create more opportunities for Singaporeans to pursue research. It will also attract more international talent, enrich the vibrancy and diversity of the local scientific community and increase the space for knowledge creation and innovation in Singapore. The location of ADSC at Fusionopolis is strategic to anchor a critical mass of researchers working on IDM research challenges in one location and encourage collaborations between A*STAR researchers, ADSC faculty and more broadly UIUC. This will also allow A*STAR to marry its strengths in areas like speech recognition and cryptography with Illinois' world-class capabilities."
About 150 researchers from Illinois, A*STAR, universities and industry attended a two-day workshop to encourage exchange of ideas and research collaborations in digital sciences.
About University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Illinois)
Founded in 1867, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus has a total enrollment of 31,181 undergraduate students and more than 10,711 graduate students. The campus has 2,445 full-time equivalent faculty members and is among the top five universities that award doctorates annually. Illinois recently was ranked in the top five in many engineering disciplines and 15th among all public U.S. universities in federal money spent on research. For more information, visit http://illinois.edu/.
About Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)
A*STAR is Singapore's lead agency for fostering world-class scientific research and talent for a vibrant knowledge-based Singapore. A*STAR actively nurtures public sector research and development in Biomedical Sciences, Physical Sciences and Engineering, with a particular focus on fields essential to Singapore's manufacturing industry and new growth industries. It oversees 22 research institutes, consortia and centres, and supports extramural research with the universities, hospital research centres and other local and international partners. At the heart of this knowledge intensive work is human capital. Top local and international scientific talent drive knowledge creation at A*STAR research institutes. The Agency also sends scholars for undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral training in the best universities, a reflection of the high priority A*STAR places on nurturing the next generation of scientific talent. For more information, visit www.a-star.edu.sg.
Fusionopolis is Singapore's science and technology hub. It brings together scientists, research engineers and technology experts from various science and engineering disciplines and across public and corporate labs to develop innovative solutions for technological and lifestyle problems facing society and to jumpstart future industries.
More than 1,500 researchers from the public labs under the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) will be at Fusionopolis. Their capabilities span a broad spectrum ranging from high performance computing to infocomm research, data storage, materials research and engineering, microelectronics, and manufacturing technology. The Advanced Digital Sciences Centre of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is also located at Fusionopolis. The public labs work alongside corporate labs like those of Vestas, Thales Technology and Seiko Instruments to accelerate the development of technologies and new products, and bring them to market.
Fusionopolis is also located in close proximity to A*STAR's biomedical sciences research institutes at Biopolis, thus paving the way for multidisciplinary research. Fusionopolis will also be home to Singapore's various industry development public agencies such as the Media Development Authority, the Economic Development Board and SPRING Singapore.
For more information, visit www.fusionopolis.astar.edu.sg.
 The centre builds upon the multidisciplinary excellence of Illinois's Coordinated Science Laboratory and Information Trust Institute, and top faculty from the Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering Departments.
Source: A*STAR; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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