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Internet2 Teams Up With India’s National Knowledge Network

Internet2, a computer-networking consortium whose infrastructure supports the work of tens of thousands of educators and researchers across the United States, expects to formalize a partnership with its counterpart in India this month. Officials say the move will clear the way for collaboration between American and Indian researchers on a scale never seen before.

A delegation of American academics, including Michael A. McRobbie, president of Indiana University, and H. David Lambert, president of Internet2, traveled this week to India to signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Knowledge Network, India’s $1.33-billion education-research network. At the deal’s core is a commitment from Indian officials to invest in the fiber-optic capacity to connect the National Knowledge Network with international education-research networks, including Internet2, thereby swinging open the doors on a broad range of research and data-sharing opportunities.

“Historically, India had not been active in developing broadband resources for research and education,” Mr. Lambert said. “The story is changing dramatically.”

The seeds for the partnership were planted in 2012, when Indiana University held workshops that brought together researchers from the United States and India, according to Mr. Lambert. Those led to a series of meetings and a project to inventory existing research projects with American and Indian participants. Even considering only projects with budgets exceeding $100,000, the accounting turned up $500-million in work already under way, Mr. Lambert said.

The new partnership will allow for research and collaboration in areas such as agriculture, public health, and the arts. There are plans to establish video services that will enable research teams working in the two countries to interact, among other undertakings.

Mr. McRobbie acknowledged that bureaucratic hurdles can arise when working in India.

“Working with foreign countries always brings its challenges,” Mr. McRobbie said. “But I think the fact that we have reached this point indicates that we really have made progress. Many Indian colleagues have been very helpful to us in building these relationships.”

Internet2 has relationships with numerous foreign education and research networks, but the new partnership with India will be among the most robust. Mr. Lambert would like to see the tally of money supporting U.S.-India research climb into the billions, he said.

“The India-U.S. relationship is a very unique one,” Mr. Lambert said. “The work we have done has led up to an opportunity to make this collaboration a gold standard in joint efforts by two national research networks in support of research, education, and economic and social development.”

Correction (3/19/2014, 12:20 p.m.): This post originally misattributed a statement in the next-to-last paragraph. It was Mr. Lambert who said he would like to see more money for U.S.-India research, not Mr. McRobbie. The text has been corrected.

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