Government of Maharashtra partners with University of Birmingham to tackle key state priority

The University of Birmingham is partnering with the Government of Maharashtra to set up a specialist Research and Innovation Hub to tackle challenges in key state priority areas including agriculture and healthcare, using Artificial Intelligence (AI).

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 Mr. Shailendra Deolankar, Director, Higher Education, Department of Higher and Technical Education, Government of Maharashtra and Professor Adam Tickell, Vice- Chancellor of the University of Birmingham signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to begin work on establishing the centre.

 Working with strategy partner Ernst & Young, the agreement brings together three State Public Universities including Kavayitri Bahinabai Chaudhari North Maharashtra University, Jalgaon; COEP Technological University, Pune; and Savitribai Phule Pune University, Pune, during the initial phase of the project.

 As part of this initiative, the Department of Higher and Technical education has also constituted a ‘Maharashtra Responsible Research and Innovation Taskforce’ (MSRRIT) to effectively track the research activity in the state, ideate on interventions to improve quality of research and build out SoPs for conducting

 research as well as collaborating with other International and National bodies. Researchers from the partner universities have identified two themes involving the development of AI systems using Natural Language Processing to:

  •   Automatically extract information from clinical records in Marathi, Hindi and other Indian languages and then classify using Machine Learning algorithms to provide insights and improvements in healthcare and patient outcomes.
  •   Provide agricultural extension services to the State’s farmers in Marathi, Hindi, and other Indian languages by developing AI Chatbots that can converse, answer questions and explain concepts expressed in these languages.

 The partnership aims to develop a rich environment of collaborative research between the University of Birmingham, and the state funded universities in the fields of AI and Data Science. There will also be opportunities for PhD research.
Following yesterday’s signing ceremony in Mumbai, Professor Adam Tickell commented: “The University of Birmingham is a global ‘civic’ university and we’re committed to forging meaningful research partnerships in India that demonstrate our commitment to the country as a strategic partner.
“India is pursuing excellence in AI models, techniques, and creative use of data. We look forward to working with the Government of Maharashtra, and our Indian academic counterparts to create impactful research that will help to shape state policy on the adoption and use of AI in the key areas of healthcare and agriculture.

“We believe that this partnership will improve knowledge and understanding about how AI and data science can drive innovation which better serves Indian society and the wider world.”

The partners will work together to establish an AI Research and Innovation Hub within Maharashtra and attract funding from state government, industry, and other agencies to support innovative collaborative research between experts at the three state universities and the University of Birmingham.

Vikas Rastogi, Principal Secretary, Department of Higher and Technical Education, Government of Maharashtra commented: “Through the AI Research and Innovation Hub, the State aims to establish a new model for collaborative research that leverages the expertise of local researchers along with International counterparts to develop innovative solutions to state priority areas.”

 Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Partner, Strategy and Transactions at EY commented: “This is a great initiative by the Government of Maharashtra. The Maharashtra Responsible Research and Innovation Taskforce and the University of Birmingham together may be able to solve problems of scale using technology to benefit the larger population.”