The Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) has tied up with French defence electronics group Thales to create a jointly supervised PhD fellowship programme in coordination with the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique (National Centre for Scientific Research) or CNRS. Thales and IIT Madras signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to this effect, in the presence of Union Minister for Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar, and French Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation Frédérique Vidal at The Knowledge Summit held last week.

Thales already has similar agreements for jointly supervised PhDs with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore, IIT Bombay and IIT Delhi.

Speaking on the occasion, Emmanuel de Roquefeuil, Vice-President & Country Director, Thales, said, “As a global technology leader, we are always excited about investing in the future through varied initiatives focused on research and engineering. Given this focus, IIT Madras is a natural partner and we are very proud of this association. We believe it will serve our common objective of fostering a strong Indo-French research ecosystem and also support the Skill India initiative of the Indian government.”

Prof Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras, said, “We greatly value this partnership with Thales as our students will benefit from access to world class research environments and guidance from highly capable academics and researchers. It is these partnerships which not only help develop technologies for tomorrow but also bring industry and academia closer. IIT Madras has earlier entered into joint Ph.D. degree agreements with University of Bordeaux and École Centrale de Nantes in France. This partnership with Thales will facilitate these collaborative research programs.”

Dr Srinivas Kaveri, Director, CNRS in India, said, “Partnerships like these help strengthen Indo-French relations, promote cultural diversity and enable sharing of ideas between Indian and French researchers. This unique programme will bring together shared minds to foster innovations and technologies for tomorrow.”

The students selected for the jointly supervised PhD fellowships will have an Indian supervisor and a French co-supervisor (from one of the identified CNRS laboratories). Selected students from IIT Madras will have the opportunity to conduct a part of their research projects in France in areas like electromagnetism and antennas simulation and modelling, airborne complex system engineering, artificial Intelligence and data management systems, and advanced electronics systems and nanotechnologies.

The Knowledge Summit was jointly organised by the French Institute in India, along with the Ministry of Higher Education, Research & Innovation (MESRI), Republic of France, and the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India. It was said to be the first high-level Indo-French summit on higher education and research.

The summit coincided with the first state visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to India.

Thales has joint projects with over 50 universities and research laboratories worldwide.

Present in India since 1953, Thales has offices and sites in New Delhi, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai and Mumbai, among others, and has been sharing its technologies and expertise in defence, transport and aerospace markets.