Building a Research University in an Innovation Ecosystem

 November 14, 2019

16:00 – 18:00 IST

The Oberoi, Nariman Point, Mumbai, India


Relevant and robust research mechanisms are pivotal for the success of higher education ecosystems. A major reason for the absence of Indian higher education institutions (HEIs) in the top echelons of university rankings is the lack of quality research output – a key metric to determine rankings. As per the SCImago database (1996-2018), India ranks ninth in terms of overall research output. However, India’s Hirsch index* of 570 pales in comparison to USA (2222), Germany (1203) and even Japan (967). A thriving research ecosystem not just benefits the host university but substantially contributes to the economic and social development of the region. In the long run, these universities become indispensable contributors to the overall growth trajectory of the nation.


Thus, it becomes essential for any new HEI to focus on its research culture and systems. Accordingly, Jio Institute (JI) in the lead up to its launch organized a talk by Dr. Jean – Lou Chameau, Former President, California Institute of Technology, USA and Dr. Carol Carmichael, Former Advisor, KAUST, Saudi Arabia and Former Director, Institute of Sustainable Technology at Georgia Tech University, USA on November 14, 2019 at the Oberoi Hotel, Mumbai. At the outset, Dr. Chameau outlined the a few characteristics pivotal to the holistic development of a research University namely:

  • In addition to educating people, research universities over time build a successful innovation ecosystem. 

  • Research Universities are successful in part because of other institutions in the area. It is always part of a larger ecosystem. 

  • These universities must exhibit a commitment to excellence and a discipline to focus. This must manifest through careful recruitment across domains and tough decisions when required. 

  • An appropriate balance must be found between curiosity-driven research on one hand and goal oriented research on the other. In addition, such universities must have the wherewithal to successfully transition between the two.  

  • Must be able to identify young faculty members who are driven by ideas and can consistently compete with themselves. 

  • Engage young people to do research activities at the earliest.


The talk was followed with a discussion that included deans, principals, professors as well as doctoral researchers from different HEIs and research across Mumbai.


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Dr. Jean-Lou Chameau

President Emeritus - Caltech & Former President - KAUST, Provost - Georgia Institute of Technology, USA

Dr. Chameau started his academic career at Purdue University in 1980, USA, after receiving his PhD from Stanford.He joined Georgia Tech as professor and Head of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering in 1991, where he later became Dean of the College of Engineering and then Provost of the university.


In 2006, Jean-Lou Chameau became the President of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), a position he held until 2013. He was also the President of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia from 2013 to 2017. In 2018,   he was tasked by the French government with coordinating the regroupment of educational institutions around Ecole Polytechnique  within the Paris-Saclay business cluster, with the ultimate aim of establishing a best-in-class science and technology institute. Professor Chameau is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and is serving on several boards.

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Dr. Carol Carmichael

Former Advisor, KAUST, Saudi Arabia and Director, Institute of Sustainable Technology at Georgia Tech University, USA

Dr. Carol Carmichael is an independent consultant based in Paris, France, with over 30 years of experience as research faculty member, administrator, and senior counselor for external relations in diverse research-university contexts: from small, private (Caltech) to large, public institutions (Georgia Tech). She brings her experience in the various missions of the university in service to advisory boards of academic institutions, especially those with a particular emphasis on science and technology.

Prior to moving to Paris, Dr. Carmichael brought her background in chemistry, technology and science policy, and higher education administration to the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), where she supported faculty and student recruitment and retention. At the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Dr. Carol Carmichael served in two capacities: as senior counselor for external relations and as faculty associate in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science, where she lectured on environmental policy in the Linde Center for Global Environmental Science. Prior to coming to Caltech, Dr. Carmichael served as the director of the Institute for Sustainable Technology and Development, and assistant vice provost for research, at the Georgia Institute of Technology.


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