Mphasis, an information technology (IT) solutions provider specializing in cloud and cognitive services, through its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) arm, Mphasis F1 Foundation, today strengthened its commitment to Ashoka University with a grant of INR 18 Crores, for a period of three years towards the expansion of Mphasis Laboratory of Machine Learning and Computational Thinking at the University. The partnership will also lay the foundation of Digital Makerspace to intensify engagement and experiential learning within the student community.
The expansion of the lab will offer spaces for experiential learning through live projects and hackathons and flexible spaces for industry-academia engagement through lecture series and workshops. The Digital Makerspace will provide Computer Science (CS) and non-CS students with an equal opportunity to benefit from Ashoka’s interdisciplinary environment. The Digital Makerspace will be a collaborative workspace for making, learning, exploring, and sharing using high-tech to no-tech tools, that will enable the ideation of tech-enabled solution-centric startups.
“At Mphasis, we believe that to truly embrace the digital learning paradigm, one must advocate for accessibility and nurture a new lens of industry-academia partnerships. With our partnership with Ashoka University, we aim to inspire students across all academic fields to foster innovation and harness their potential to create a lasting impact on society. With the growing digital edge, it has become imperative to build a culture of innovation to have a future-ready generation with unmatched capabilities and skillsets. The expansion of the lab and creation of the Digital Makerspace at Ashoka University will enable students to draw on diverse perspectives, skills and partnerships and create value through immersive and application-based learning,” said Nitin Rakesh, Chief Executive Officer, and Managing Director, Mphasis.
Mphasis, part of the Blackstone portfolio companies, laid the foundation for the partnership in 2020 with the creation of the Laboratory for Machine Learning and Computational Thinking at Ashoka University. Being a first-of-its-kind collaboration in an interdisciplinary institution in India, nine projects were initiated under the three pillars of Digitization and Society, Health Analytics and Dissemination.
“We are pleased to support our investee company, Mphasis, in the expansion of the laboratory and the creation of Digital Makerspace for students at Ashoka University. At Blackstone, we believe that it is important to educate and equip future leaders with digital skills that can help prepare them for a rapidly evolving world shaped by technology. We’ve made several investments in education technology around the world including Aakash Education, Renaissance, Ellucian and Articulate, and it’s also been a passion of mine, where I’ve made contributions to its success in India over the years,” said Amit Dixit, Head of Asia Private Equity, Blackstone, and Director on Mphasis board.
“The follow-on grant from Mphasis is a testament and recognition of our commitment towards building India’s premier multidisciplinary University. We are delighted to witness how our collaboration has resulted in creating best-in-class infrastructure and facilities for academics and research and has transformed the lives of the next generation of young leaders. Our Build Ashoka plan outlines a bold vision for interdisciplinary research in our accelerated growth phase. With this extended support from Mphasis, we will raise the bar in academic excellence with a pioneering vision as we collaborate to fuel research-based solutions for real-life challenges and long-term sustainable impact that lasts beyond our times,” said Pramath Raj Sinha Chairperson, Board of Trustees, Ashoka University.
The lab would scale existing high-impact projects and pilot new initiatives such as the Ashoka Centre for Health Analytics, Research & Trends (CHART) to develop India-specific metrics and visualization tools enabling policymakers to identify appropriate strategies and schemes. The lab will also be the foundation ground of BharatSim, an open-source, large-scale, agent-based simulation framework built to help the scientific community.
The new vision will witness the expansion of the lab, to be housed in a dedicated space within the Ashoka Innovation Centre (AIC). The Ashoka Innovation Centre will be a 40,000+ sq. ft. state-of-the-art building included in the Build Ashoka expansion plan and will be set up by 2024 under the Ashoka@125-acre mission. The lab under the broad scope of Computer Science + X at Ashoka (CS+X aims to bring the power of computing to other disciplines through curriculum integration & building more interdisciplinary research centres), will co-create a summer programme with Ashoka Innovation Centre, for school students to experience problem discovery, ideation, and user innovation in a learning-meets-work environment. The partnership will also co-run projects with the Centre for Data Sciences and the School of Advanced Computing to engage in data visualization and actionable insights for complex problem-solving.