Islamabad-Minister for Science and Technology Rana Tanveer Hussain said on Monday that industry and academia collaboration are interdependent and keen efforts are required to converge interests of both entities.

The minister was addressing at the inaugural session of “National Workshop on Application of Robotics Technology for Industrial Development in Pakistan,” organised by National University of Science & Technology (NUST).

The workshop was organised to create awareness amongst various stakeholders, promote innovation and commercialisation of robotics technology in Pakistan, and incorporate automation in the industry to enhance both quality and quantity of production.

“Industry-Academia collaboration is a time-tested valuable mechanism which enables both entities to sustain growth in their respective areas,” said minister.

He said that industry relies on academia for innovations while academia benefits from research grants.

The minister also stated that both components have different fundamental points of interest and business models, dedicated efforts are required to converge their interests in order to achieve a win-win situation.

He maintained that though the model of academia-industry cooperation has been successfully adopted in many developed countries for years together, it has unfortunately suffered from half-hearted, isolated and sporadic support in Pakistan.

He also stated that well-coordinated efforts are required to address this challenge and that the ongoing workshop is one such effort to provide a forum to the academicians and researchers working in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence for coming closer to the industry professionals in the field.

He advised the academicians and the industry professionals to prepare and submit R&D research proposals for National ICT R&D funding and proposed that some internship schemes might be launched to give opportunity to the faculty and students to work on problems being faced by the industry.

Rector NUST Lt Gen (Retd) Naweed Zaman said that the NUST enjoys the distinction of being the pioneer higher education institution to have realised the importance of this field and launched a formal Bachelors of Engineering Programme in the field of Mechatronics Engineering at NUST College of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (CEME) in 1998.

“NUST has also established a dedicated Department of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence in the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at its Islamabad campus,” he said.

He said department has shown steady progress with ongoing applied research initiatives with both local and international industry.

Rector also said that Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with SAKURA Wheelchairs JAPAN, the researchers from the Department of Robotics are working jointly with Japanese counterparts to develop intelligent wheelchair technology in Pakistan.

This technology will help visually or mentally impaired individuals to safely navigate in home and office environments.