The $40 million centre will be based at the University of Warwick and will train middle managers in industry to understand the potential of the internet. Some 7,000 people will pass through the centre each year, half from overseas.
"Britain has the chance to be in the forefront of the new industrial revolution if we harness the power of the internet to our existing industrial processes. This will require e-literate managers to drive the agenda and to reap the rewards of the power this technology will give them," said Kumar Bhattacharryya, director of Warwick Manufacturing Group.
The institute, called the E2 centre, will teach managers how all phases of a product's life cycle can be designed and planned using internet-based techniques. It will show them how suppliers and
customers can become tightly
integrated into the development process.
The deal was announced this week to coincide with a conference on manufacturing in the knowledge-driven economy. According to Professor Bhattacharryya, the centre will cost Pounds 100 million a year to run and will be funded by private sponsors including the Parametric Technology Corporation - a computer-aided design company based in the US - and Sun Microsystems.
The venture is the latest in a series of global collaborations in higher education. Two weeks ago, the University of Cambridge and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology launched a partnership agreement to create a new institute at Cambridge that will specialise in research and teaching on industrial productivity.
Carnegie Mellon is already involved in at least one international collaborative project. It is a member of Unext, a private company that is developing online delivery of higher education. Other members include the University of Chicago, the London School of Economics and Stanford University.