Overseas Cooperation

Guided by the principles of “complementary advantages, reciprocity, first-rate achievements and mutual development”, Tsinghua University has established extensive cooperation with many world-class universities, research institutes, and well-known multinational enterprises. This scientific research cooperation and communication, forward-looking, substantial and high-level, takes diversified and flexible forms, including the setting up of joint research institutes, framework cooperation agreements, commissioned research and development projects, joint research and development projects, cooperation research funds, and overseas licensing and technology transfer. A goal of all these cooperation modes is to help Tsinghua University enhance its scientific research level and enhance its academic development, as well as to educate talented graduates with global vision, thereby improving Tsinghua’s international influence and reputation.

Alliance for international science and technology collaborations

In 2015, the Tsinghua-UC Berkeley Shenzhen Institute (TBSI) was formally established, representing an important milestone in the collaboration between China and the U.S. in the area of top-level higher education. Adhering to the concept of “applying engineering technologies, connecting all applicable disciplines, bridging Chinese and western cultures, solving world-class challenges in China, and cultivating world-class industry leaders”, the TBSI incorporates the development needs of Shenzhen and through interdisciplinary research and education addresses important common social and economic challenges in the world. Currently, three research centers have been established: Environment Science and New Energy Technologies, Data Science and Information Technologies, and Precise Medicine and Public Health, which in total include 16 advanced research labs.

In 2015, with the support from RWTH Aachen, Siemens, Volkswagen and other academic and industrial partners, Tsinghua University combined resources from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, the Department of Thermal Engineering, the Department of Industrial Engineering and the Institute of Information Technologies to jointly establish the Tsinghua University-RWTH Aachen University Ministry of Education Joint International Research Laboratory (JRL). The laboratory passed the Certification Review of the Ministry of Education in November 2015 and entered the second phase of development. Under the common strategic goals of both the Chinese and German governments, and with an aim of improving the manufacturing industry in China, Asia and the EU, Tsinghua University and RWTH Aachen will jointly strengthen their collaboration on advanced manufacturing. The research of the JRL will focus on areas including advanced design theories and methods, advanced manufacturing technology and equipment, micro-nano manufacturing and systems, quality-control of mechanical surfaces and interfaces, and testing and in-service safety of advanced manufacturing equipment. The JRL will create a tripartite development model combining fundamental research, technology transfer, and internationalization.

CERC, the Sino-US Clean Energy Research Center, founded with the joint support of the National Ministry of Science and Technology, the National Development and Reform Commission and the US Department of Energy, comprises three subordinate cooperative alliances: Clean Energy Vehicles, Clean Coal and Architectural Energy Conservation. Tsinghua University undertakes and participates significantly all three alliances. The cooperative alliance for Clean Energy Vehicles is led by Tsinghua University, with Professor Ouyang Minggao from the Department of Automotive Engineering as its Chinese director. From the United States the University of Michigan, MIT, ORNL, GM, Ford, and Chrysler, amongst others all take part in this alliance. Professor Yao Qiang from the Department of Thermal Engineering is responsible as the chief scientist for the cooperative alliance for Clean Coal, with participation from the United States including West Virginia University, LANL, GE, and Duke Energy. Professor Jiang Yi from the School of Architecture, member of the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS), as the technological leader, is in charge of the joint project of “architectural energy conservation—monitoring and simulation of architectural energy consumption” in the cooperative alliance for Architectural Energy Conservation, in which United Stated partners including LBNL, UC Davis, and Dow Chemical also take part.

Joint research centers

Joint research centers, usually on a large scale, representing long lasting relationships, often interdisciplinary in nature, play an important role in the overseas scientific and research cooperation of Tsinghua University. On this basis Tsinghua University has established mutually beneficial strategic partnerships with many well-known multinational corporations. As the platform for promotion of cooperation between universities and enterprises, Tsinghua University has set up joint research centers with world-class universities and institutes such as Johns Hopkins University, and the National University of Singapore, and with more than 30 overseas multinationals, including Toyota Motor Corp., United Technologies Corp., Siemens, Boeing Company, and Samsung. By actively and effectively making use of the technological, intellectual and financial resources on both sides, many highly influential scientific achievements have been made.

In 2015, Tsinghua University and Volvo Group jointly established the “Research Center for Green Economy and Sustainable Development”. Tsinghua University also established the “Smart City Information Technology Joint Research Center” with Sungkyunkwan University, to integrate governmental, industrial, educational and research resources for strategic mutual-beneficial collaboration and to share technology and experience on networking main city facilities and functions through information transformation.

Tsinghua University together with Microsoft jointly set up the “Tsinghua University-Microsoft Joint Research Center for innovation and Intellectual Property” in the area of Humanities and Social Sciences. The center is focused on intensive study of innovation policy and the development of the legal system for intellectual property, and provides suggestions for the establishment of long-term and sustainable development of mechanisms for intellectual property protection in China.

In 2014, the “XIN” Center, an interdisciplinary institution, was set up both in Tsinghua University and Israeli Tel Aviv University. The center aims at making full use of the resources and advantages of both universities, promoting innovation and cross-disciplinary research, establishing a creative platform for global technology and education, and establishing a mode and mechanism to facilitate the transfer of innovative research technology.

Joint research projects

In some key research areas, Tsinghua University has concentrated efforts in establishing contacts with world-class universities and leading enterprises in the industry to jointly launch research projects. By thoroughly understanding of the needs of industry and by introducing high-quality research resources from leading international enterprises, Tsinghua University is able to enhance the cooperation between manufacturing and academia and to promote technological innovation.

In 2014, Tsinghua University signed a cooperative agreement with Rubicon Systems to conduct research on water management system technology. The cooperative project will play an active role in improving the water management technology in China, so as to benefit the provinces in China which are facing a challenge in the shortage of water resources.

Center of Knowledge Interchange with overseas enterprises

Siemens has launched a Center of Knowledge Interchange with Tsinghua University - the highest mode of cooperation globally for Siemens with an educational institution. The center serves as a bridge and platform to deepen and widen cooperation in scientific research and talent training, and also plays an important role in cooperation between Tsinghua and Siemens in the areas of energy, industry, and health care.

With the support of Siemens, the joint research project between Tsinghua University and UC Berkeley “Green Online Experimental Platform” has been established. This project, in the area of intellectual architecture, covers research on informational technology, such as green electro-communication, and intellectual network control, with the aim to develop new informational and energetic technology to reduce energy consumption and to protect the environment. This project pioneered a new cooperative model of University-Industry-University (U-I-U) cooperation.

Commissioned R&D

Over the years, Tsinghua University has established long-term partnerships with many overseas enterprises in the form of commissioned R&D projects. These commissioned R&D projects not only assist the overseas enterprises to solve technological and management problems in manufacturing processes, but also provide opportunities for scientific research in key areas and help guide academic development at Tsinghua University. As a further benefit such projects provide important information to faculty and students at Tsinghua University regarding trends in industrial technological development, and also help to promote the application of scientific research achievements at Tsinghua University in industry.

Technology-transfer projects

The long-term and consistent scientific research cooperation between Tsinghua University and overseas well-known enterprises has resulted in some remarkable achievements, generating a host of new technology of great industrial application value and socio-economic value. Many such technologies have been applied in practical production by overseas enterprises in the form of technology-permission or technology-transfer agreements.

In 2013, the patents for the technology of Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS), a technique independently developed by the Department of Thermal Engineering of Tsinghua University, were licensed to TSI, one of the world leading manufacturers of precision measurement instruments. Tsinghua University and TSI also cooperate in commercializing this technology to enables the application of LIBS to solve problems in the coal industry, including shortening the analysis time for determining critical properties such as heating value, ash content and other important parameters. This arrangement with TSI is an example of how to successfully license and apply China’s independent scientific research achievements for use by an international enterprise. This technology is not only of huge commercial value in the coal industry but also has a societal impact, as it will help to improve combustion efficiency, and therefore reduce carbon dioxide emission, thus further promoting the sustainable development of China coal and energy industry.