Brazil Partnership to Launch New Innovation Hub in Rio

Apr 21 2015 | By Melanie A. Farmer | Photo: Lynn Saville

Columbia University, led by the School of Engineering, and the city of Rio de Janeiro have partnered on a new innovation center that will spur technological growth and research advances in critical areas such as sustainability, sanitation, data science, smart cities, and precision medicine. The new Rio Columbia University Innovation Hub, also in partnership with Columbia Global Centers, the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), and others of the University’s 16 schools, will be headquartered in “the Marvelous City” of Rio and will be a place for exciting new collaborations between University faculty, researchers, and students with key Brazilian industry leaders, scholars, students, and researchers.

Columbia celebrates the Rio innovation partnership with (left to right) SIPA Dean Merit E. Janow, Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes, SEAS Dean Mary C. Boyce, Provost John Coatsworth, and Global Centers Director Thomas Trebat.

“This is going to bring new innovative technology-based solutions to critical issues facing cities and to transform lives both locally and globally using truly interdisciplinary approaches,” said Dean Mary C. Boyce at a special ceremony today marking the launch of the innovation hub.

Boyce credited University Provost John Coatsworth for spearheading talks with Rio, dating back six years ago, to collaborate on such a venture. She added, “I’m really excited about our new colleagues and how this partnership is really going to expand our impact not only here at Columbia but also the impact of faculty and students from our Rio university partners.”

Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes attended the celebration and echoed Boyce’s enthusiasm about this latest Columbia-Brazil partnership. Columbia established a Global Center in Rio in 2013.

“Innovation is what Columbia does best, and to promote that in Rio has been a priority for us,” said Paes. “The creation of an innovation hub in partnership with the Rio de Janeiro Federal University will stimulate the development of applied sciences in the city … To be a global city, Rio needs to be connected to state-of-the-art scientific research done in major institutions around the world such as Columbia.”

At the ceremony, hosted at SIPA, Paes and Coatsworth signed an agreement to establish the innovation hub. Also in attendance were Shih-Fu Chang, vice dean of the Engineering School and the Richard Dicker Professor of Telecommunications; Thomas Trebat, director of Rio Global Center; and Merit Janow, dean of SIPA.