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Strategic Meeting of TWI and ASEAN Bears Fruit for Partners

Tue, 28 March, 2023

A recent meeting between TWI and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has resulted in a mutual extension of their evolving relationship, which seeks to deliver a critical mass of strategic, engineering technologies-based research in the ASEAN region.

Founded in 1967 and comprising ten Member countries, the purpose of ASEAN is to promote regional cooperation in Southeast Asia, in the spirit of equality and partnership, and contribute to progress and prosperity in the region. TWI first made contact with ASEAN in 2022 as a result of commencing the extension of its successful National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRC), UK into a comparable overseas model, with a particular emphasis on establishing NSIRC International sites in both Southeast Asia and Europe.

The ASEAN Plan of Action on Science, Technology and Innovation (APASTI) 2016-2025 aims to achieve a science, technology and innovation-enabled ASEAN which is innovative, competitive, vibrant, sustainable and economically integrated. It is driven by the common vision of every ASEAN Member State to leverage science, technology and innovation to share knowledge and research developments, and translate research outputs into implementable solutions that address real-life problems faced by its citizens.

Simultaneously, the vision for NSIRC International, through regional and local market delivery, includes creating a pipeline of industry-led, postgraduate students undertaking novel PhD programmes aligned with industrial needs, facilitating research and innovation opportunities across different sectors and technologies, supporting the strategic goals of academic institutions, enhancing knowledge dissemination and transfer across the scientific community, and developing superior talent in the field of research and innovation.

The strategic meeting, which took place at ASEAN’s headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia, was attended by Prof Tat-Hean Gan, Director of Membership and Innovation, TWI, Dr Zurina Moktar, Assistant Director, and Head of Science and Technology Division, ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) department, Dr Vanny Narita, Senior Officer, also of the Science and Technology Division, and Ms Rizky Inayati, Science & Technology Officer, ASEAN Secretariat.

Their wide ranging discussions included progress being made on the agreements between TWI and the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) of Indonesia, and the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD DOST), respectively to advance new NSIRC International PhD programmes in their territories, ways in which ASEAN Member States can collaborate with private sector organisations and academic institutions on innovative solutions to address common challenges facing the region, and the potential for new, mutually beneficial, academia-industry initiatives and partnerships in the fields of science and technology.

Speaking on behalf of TWI and NSIRC, Prof Tat-Hean Gan said “I would like to thank my hosts again for such a positive and fruitful meeting, and re-emphasise that TWI is delighted to be given this opportunity to further strengthen its relationship with ASEAN.” “As well as the ongoing development of NSIRC International in Southeast Asia, we are looking forward to working with ASEAN to support the enhancement of skills bases and local economies in ASEAN Member States”, he explained, adding, “for example, by widening access to TWI’s international training courses such as CSWIP, Professional Membership of The Welding Institute for individuals working in engineering and technology, and TWI Industrial and Innovation Network membership for companies of different sizes operating in the global innovation space.”

TWI’s long-term goal is to deliver tangible benefits to ASEAN Member States in the form of new technologies and products, derived from global, industry-academia collaboration, that can result in new science and technology jobs, and inward investment. These will be underpinned by NSIRC’s innovative approach to inter-disciplinary, postgraduate education and research, and TWI’s world-leading training programmes, serving to help fill any gaps in both higher education and industry-relevant skills provision locally.

Since its inception in early 2022, NSIRC International has established sites with leading universities in the ASEAN Member States of Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, and in Greece, in Europe. These are now enabling their first cohorts of students to undertake PhDs in topics such as structural integrity and reliability, applied engineering, materials for engineering applications, digitalisation and data science, and net zero applications, creating engineering leaders of the future who, over time, can contribute to their country’s development and prosperity.

Dr Zurina Moktar, Assistant Director, and Head of Science and Technology Division, ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) department, said “We look forward to the development of our collaboration with TWI. The ASEAN Secretariat expects that the collaboration may benefit ASEAN Member States to bring closer science, technology and innovation (STI) solutions to its actual demands. We hope that more ASEAN Member States share their interests to join the pilot programme that has been initiated with Indonesia and the Philippines”.

Photograph (top) shows, left to right: Dr Vanny Narita, Prof Tat-Hean Gan, Dr Zurina Moktar, and Ms Rizky Inayati.

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