Strengthening the collaboration between National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) in the Asia-Pacific region was the focus of discussions at the inaugural REN Leaders Forum held at the Asia Pacific Advanced Networks Meeting (APAN56) in Sri Lanka. The group shared and exchanged ideas and strategies for leveraging the collective growth and development of NRENs in countries across the region to empower researchers.
Asia-Pacific RENs have a strong history of collaborating on impactful projects in different fields.
For example, several NRENs joined forces to facilitate a climate science research initiative involving Kyoto University in Japan, Bandung Institute of Technology in Indonesia, Hanoi University in Vietnam, and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. This project utilised cloud computing to create high-speed, cost-effective regional climate prediction systems, revolutionising weather forecasts in areas lacking proper infrastructure.
Another example of collaboration is Project BeLISAC (Building eLearning Infrastructure in South Asian Countries). RENs from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, and Laos collectively enhanced the online learning systems in their respective countries, while actively contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by training a team of female engineers from each country to manage the network infrastructure.
APAC NRENs have already been strengthening their research efforts by collaborating with international research and education network organisations such as APAN, Internet2 (USA), and GÉANT (Europe). A notable global achievement is their contribution to the 3,000 Rice Genomes Project (3KRGP), in partnership with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and the Beijing Genomics Institute Shenzhen. This collaboration improved access to vital datasets, accelerating research on food security in the APAC region.
These examples represent just a small portion of the collaborative research endeavours. RENs in the APAC region have been actively involved in many projects in various domains, including education, telemedicine, e-science, food security, and emerging technologies, among others. In these areas, they have played a crucial role in supporting researchers’ activities and contributing to discoveries and global advancements.
The recent REN Leaders Forum served as a platform to facilitate greater united coordination to help increase the impact of the technologies and capabilities NRENs provide for enabling of research in APAC countries.