Reliance Industries' telecom giant is exploring a collaboration with Birmingham City University experts for a new virtual reality (VR) app it plans to launch next year. Reliance Jio, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Mukesh Ambani led Reliance Industries Limited, has already disrupted the Indian mobile network landscape with its cost-effective connectivity options. The Mumbai-headquartered mobile network operator is now eyeing the field of virtual reality and augmented reality in its next phase of growth. The company's creative chiefs recently held discussions with academics at Birmingham City University to explore the training process of the next generation of VR professionals, with the hope of striking potential partnerships in the future. Aditya Bhat, Head of Jio Studios, and Ankit Sharma, its Creative Director, were part of a visit organised by the UK government's Department of International Trade (DIT) in early November. As part of the discussions around its new VR app, JIO's inhouse studio is planning to collaborate with experts at the university by expanding their technical know-how, co-creating content and ensuring they are making the best use of the latest technology. JIO also hopes it can work with students who are creating VR and augmented reality (AR) content by showcasing their projects on its new platform. Professor Julian Beer, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the university, said: “Birmingham City University and indeed the wider West Midlands is at the forefront of digital media technology and our active researchers ensure our students are best equipped for future careers in image and audio processing, digital media distribution and mixed reality systems. At the same time, we are enabling our industry partners, who benefit from the new knowledge we are generating in this rapidly growing field. “We are delighted at this opportunity to share knowledge and experience with our friends from India and we hope that from this visit we are able to build further institutional links with the country.” Most of the world's technology giants, including Google, Apple, Microsoft and Huawei, have identified VR and AR as the next frontier. The Indian delegation to Birmingham was also joined by philmCGI, an animation studio based out of both Mumbai [caption id="attachment_11508" align="alignleft" width="368"]
Birmingham Conservatoire[/caption] and Pune where around 90 artistes provide computer-generated images and visual effects services in films and television for some of the biggest studios in Europe and Asia. The company is also expanding its offer in VR and AR - fields covered at the university's Digital Media Technology (DMT) Lab. The university demonstrated how it is managing the value chain from innovation to commercialisation, especially with its newly launched STEAMhouse project, a new centre aimed at encouraging the collaboration of the arts, science, technology, engineering and maths (STEAM) sectors. Anand Bhanushali, Founder and Managing Director of philmCGI, said: “Birmingham City University has state-of-the-art media facilities; it is no wonder so many Indian students want to come to the UK to study. “We discussed a number of opportunities for collaboration, such as STEAM-based problem solving. Lots of innovative solutions can be developed when applying fresh minds to companies such as ourselves”. The new UK-India collaborative dialogue was hosted by the university's recently-established India Innovation Group, which comprises academics and staff who have a direct connection to or an interest to India in terms of collaboration, industrial and educational links, or who have joint projects currently in development. The group meets on a quarterly basis to share ideas and analyse the update on the institution's progress with its strategic links within India. Chaired by Professor Rajinder Dudrah, Professor of Cultural Studies and Creative Industries, and one of the leading scholars of Indian cinema studies in the UK, the group is currently made up of a team of 13 academics and staff. Prof. Dudrah said: “India is an important part of the world for us, not just in terms of the special links we have with the subcontinent because of our international students, but also because there is a wealth of opportunity for mutual understanding, co-creation of services, the undertaking of research, and to jointly address some of the current and future socio-economic challenges that will come our way. “We were pleased to host this special visit under the auspices of the India Innovation Group, which has intellectual and personal relationships with the country and wider region, and we look forward to getting to know each other further.” The UK government announced last year that it will be contributing £14 million to help Birmingham City University create a collaborative innovation centre for solving the challenges facing micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK's West Midlands region. By connecting the Arts into STEM subject areas (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), as well as linking academic research and the vibrant creative arts scene surrounding the university, STEAMhouse hopes to develop a new supply chain across the region. The institution claims a proud history of engagement with India and has catered to thousands of students from the country across the institution's four main faculties. Its alumni occupy senior positions in a wide range of organisations across India including AT&T, Barclays, BBC, IBM, Mitsubishi and Tata Elxsi. Now, with a potential tie-up with Reliance Jio and philmCGI in the works, the partnership is set to take on a new virtual dimension. Do you have a contact for this group Or website would be great to chase up regarding promotion of our magazine.