Doha, Qatar, 21 October 2012—Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, and the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), today announced a strategic collaboration agreement as part of a new seven-year joint research program initiative. The announcement was made during a signing ceremony on the sidelines of the Joint Qatar Foundation Annual Research Forum and Arab Expatriate Scientists Network 2012.
Representing each side at the announcement and signing ceremony were Mr Faisal Alsuwaidi, President of Research and Development at QF, Dr Ahmed Elmagarmid, Executive Director of QCRI, Professor Philip S. Khoury, Associate Provost of MIT, and Professor Daniela Rus, Director of MIT CSAIL.
“This collaboration with MIT represents a significant collaboration for Qatar Foundation and one that will have a positive impact on the research, technological, and economic development of Qatar,” said Mr Alsuwaidi. Referring to the newly unveiled Qatar National Research Strategy (QNRS), he said, “The agreement represents a major step in bringing Qatar closer to creating the productive research environment necessary to achieve our vision to be an international center for research and development, excellence, and innovation.”
Under the agreement, QCRI and CSAIL scientists will undertake and co-lead multidisciplinary core computer science research projects, with the two organizations sharing resulting intellectual property (IP) rights. The programme, named the Computer Science Research Program, will be a medium for knowledge transfer and the exchange of expertise, as well as a platform to engage and train young researchers who are helping to build Qatar’s research capacity.
“This collaboration agreement is a major milestone for Qatar Foundation and QCRI,” said Dr Elmagarmid. “The agreement supports a ‘peer relationship’ under which we will witness a true balance of what it means to collaborate on joint research projects. With MIT, the relationship is symmetric: all proposals will be jointly submitted, all projects will be co-led by PI’s from both organizations, and both organizations will have rights to any IP created. We are proud to be partnering with an institute of such global recognition and high caliber.”
Scientists at QCRI will benefit from the expertise of MIT’s eminent faculty through joint research projects that will enable QCRI to realize its vision to become a center of computing research internationally and a recognized global leader in Arabic language technologies. The joint projects will align with core areas identified in QNRS for computer sciences and ICT, including distributed systems, data analytics, social computing, and Arabic language technologies. In just under two years, QCRI has built expertise focused on data management challenges, Arabic language content enrichment, and social computing complexities that address needs in Qatar and the region. The program with MIT will help further develop these areas of expertise in order for QCRI to make an impact globally.
"The Computer Science Research Program creates an exciting new opportunity for MIT's largest interdepartmental laboratory, CSAIL, and the QCRI to advance the frontiers of knowledge in a variety of critical fields ranging from data analytics and cloud computing to the Internet and Arabic language technologies, and with special attention to their application to health care and education. MIT fully embraces this important new collaboration,” said Professor Khoury.
The agreement offers researchers and students at CSAIL new opportunities and exposure to unique challenges in the Gulf region. Drawing on CSAIL’s long history as a leader in computer science research, lab members will work in concert with researchers at QCRI to tackle pressing societal challenges by developing innovative solutions that can have a broad and meaningful impact.
“The Computer Science Research Program provides an exciting and momentous opportunity for CSAIL to form a new international collaboration, through which we can make great advances in the field of computing and participate in new research projects that will have an impact far beyond MIT. We look forward to developing and nurturing a mutually beneficial relationship with QCRI far into the future,” said Professor Daniela Rus, director of CSAIL.
Inventions resulting from the collaboration are expected to raise QCRI’s stature among institutions in intellectual property rights and patent filing, which will help the Institute to achieve its objective to be ranked among the top 20 IP-filing research institutes worldwide. To date, QCRI has filed 53 patents in the US, UK and PCT related to innovations in its core areas of Arabic language technologies, data analytics, distributed systems, and social computing.