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Agreement to be Signed Today Between UC Berkeley and Taiwanese Research Institute to Spur Technological Innovation

Berkeley, CA. June 1st, 2004

Taiwan's largest research organization, the government-funded Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), is linking up with the University of California, Berkeley, to tap into the campus's innovative research environment and its connections with Silicon Valley.

In a ceremony today (Tuesday, June 1) at UC Berkeley, ITRI President Johnsee Lee will sign a collaborative agreement with the campus to create the ITRI/UC Berkeley Research Center, whose initial research focus will be on nano-energy technologies and their applications.

Lee also will announce an unrestricted gift of $500,000 per year for five years to support approximately 15 graduate and post-doctoral students each year in engineering and chemistry, in return for which the university will host ITRI researchers.

The five-year agreement is the first between a Taiwan research agency and a top-level academic institution with ties to the Silicon Valley, and it marks an important milestone in international cooperation, according to Lee.

This model of international cooperation will unite ITRI's high-tech expertise with Silicon Valley's culture of innovation, he said, and enable ITRI research personnel to immerse themselves in the Silicon Valley research and development environment.

Lee also said that he hopes the agreement will enable the creation of market applications for many of UC Berkeley's forward-looking ideas, especially in the Asia-Pacific and ethnic Chinese markets.

The inauguration of the ITRI/UC Berkeley Research Center will facilitate multidisciplinary research between the two institutions, said Beth Burnside, UC Berkeley vice chancellor for research. Cooperation between ITRI and UC Berkeley researchers will have a long-term, positive impact on the integration of engineering technology and scientific fields and will add further depth to global integration and understanding, she said.

Richard Newton, dean of UC Berkeley's College of Engineering, noted that Asia has already become the world's center for manufacturing. Taiwan's geographic location, large number of high-level research personnel, and its research and development ability centered in the Hsinchu region - home to ITRI, the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park, National Chiao Tung University and National Tsinghua University - make it an ideal place to stage R&D cooperation. The creation of the ITRI/UC Berkeley Research Center is an important first step in realizing this strategy, he said.

According to Arun Majumdar, UC Berkeley professor of mechanical engineering and the director of the ITRI/UC Berkeley Research Center, ITRI will send senior researchers to UC Berkeley laboratories to carry out research on topics of interest to both institutions. ITRI researchers will usually need to work in several laboratories and with various graduate students, post-docs and professors, providing an effective interface between the two research powerhouses.

Majumdar, who also heads UC Berkeley's Nano-Engineering Laboratory, will work with Newton; Clayton Heathcock, dean of UC Berkeley's College of Chemistry; Dr. Hsin-Sen Chu, general director of ITRI's Energy and Resources Laboratories; Dr. Li-Chung Lee, president of ITRI Inc.; and Jason Hsu, director of ITRI's International Program Center, to plan and implement projects under the agreement.

The five initial areas of concentration at the ITRI/UC Berkeley Research Center will be:

  • Thermoelectrics and thermionics
  • Phase transformation-based energy conversion and storage devices
  • Label-free chemical and biological sensors
  • Photovoltaics
  • Microreactors for energy and chemical conversion
  • Energy conversion by nanoscale mass transport

In the first year of the agreement, ITRI will send five researchers into UC Berkeley labs, with further expansion expected in the future to insure a long-term relationship between the two institutions.

The collaboration with UC Berkeley is part of ITRI's strategy to engage in research and development on an international scale in an effort to become known as a global R&D leader and to promote the upgrading of industry in Taiwan.

Robert Sanders
(510) 643-6998

File #16617

Reprinted with premission. Copyright UCB.

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