KU Leuven and the University of Melbourne (UoM) have signed a new agreement during the Belgian Economic Mission in Australia which will further deepen their existing research collaboration. Between 2021 and 2023, the universities already jointly invested €10 million in joint research projects, to pool their expertise. The collaboration is now being extended with a joint investment, also worth around €10 million.
During a visit to Melbourne in 2020 by a Leuven delegation led by Rector Luc Sels, the two universities explored ways to build up joint research capacity. Since 2021, KU Leuven and UoM have invested €10 million in 22 joint research projects. Two researchers were recruited for each research project, to implement the projects under the direction of two supervisors (one at KU Leuven, the other at UoM). The researchers spend at least one year at each of the universities, completing a Ph.D. that is recognized by both universities.
This collaboration is now being extended with an additional investment of around €10 million for a new program of 20 research projects in various fields: from using stem cell therapy to treat oesophageal disorders or research into improved therapies for osteoporosis, developing damage detection systems for large-scale offshore projects such as drilling platforms, to research into the early detection of problems with mathematical thinking in pre-schoolers.
The collaboration is intended not only to make more rapid progress in scientific research and subsequent innovations or interventions but also to enhance the opportunities for jointly applying for funding from European and Australian research programs and international funds. This is only possible when scientists can effectively assess each other's added value and build on a relationship of trust. Moreover, in a rapidly changing geopolitical landscape, KU Leuven wants to spread its collaborations across more countries and continents. In any event, the collaboration makes it clear that science knows neither boundaries nor distance.
KU Leuven and UoM are among the world's leading research universities. In the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2024, UoM is once again the highest-ranked Australian university, in 37th position. KU Leuven is among the five highest-ranked universities in the European Union, in 45th position in the same THE ranking. Both universities are members of Universitas 21, a global network bringing together 29 universities from all continents. In addition to the intense research collaboration, the two universities are also 'Global exchange partners'. This means that they offer their students the opportunity to study at the partner university for a semester.
This article was first published on 26 October by KU Leuven.