Smart City shares its light with all of Indonesia

The University of Indonesia opens its international research opportunities to scholars and institutions nationwide, says Abdul Haris

June 1, 2020
University of Indonesia
Source: University of Indonesia

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In recent years, the Indonesian government has provided a dedicated funding stream for collaborative research between the country’s universities and foreign partners. It is a policy move that has increased the amount of competitive research being undertaken in the country. The University of Indonesia alone partners with more than 15 countries, including the US, the UK and Australia, and is involved in 75 international projects, many of which are interdisciplinary.

This support and activity has resulted in Indonesian universities pocketing more international funding. The country received a total of $30 million (£23 million) in research funding from international sources over the past two years. The UK backed more than 30 projects, while the Netherlands supported over 22.

The University of Indonesia is an open-minded and multicultural campus that strives to be one of the leading research universities in the world. It is one of the country’s top recipients of international funding and is among the nation’s top five universities for research impact. Meanwhile, the institution itself has spent more than $1.4 million on research activities with international universities. Its top collaborators are a diverse lot: they include the UK’s Newton Fund, the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme, Asahi in Japan, South Korea’s Daewoong Pharmaceutical, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the ASEAN University Network. The institution has also worked closely with Leiden University on a project focused on social innovation in the fields of health, infrastructure, environment and culture.

The unit that has received the most international funding at the University of Indonesia is Smart City, the Center for Collaborative Research (CCR), which was awarded $3 million from USAID for a 2017-21 project to establish collaborative research between the US and Indonesia. Through Smart City, five US universities – the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Purdue University, the University of Florida, Savannah State University and Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University – have collaborated with five universities and 26 colleges and polytechnics in Indonesia. The massive consortium has enabled Smart City to engage these universities in research training and public lectures to increase knowledge sharing and research opportunities.

Between 2017 and 2019, Smart City invited more than 17 professors from the US to engage with 284 Indonesian scholars at biannual workshops. Many professors said that although Indonesian academics had difficulty expressing their research papers and proposals because of language barriers, they had shared many promising ideas. The four-day workshops resulted in the formation of eight US-­Indonesian research groups. Their members benefited from collaborative research fellowships funded by Smart City and Indonesia’s Ministry of Research and Technology.

Only prestigious higher education institutions in Indonesia receive large amounts of research funding, but Smart City’s collaboration with the Indonesian government has allowed less well-known universities in the country to access international research opportunities. The aforementioned workshops provided financial support to scholars from less prestigious colleges and national polytechnics to engage with larger universities in Indonesia and the US and to increase their research capacity.

Indonesia’s top 10 collaborating countries, by number of co-authored research publications, 2014-18

Indonesia’s top 10 collaborating countries

Abdul Haris is vice rector for research and innovation, University of Indonesia

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