19 October 2023

The 6th ASEAN+3 Rectors’ Conference: Session 2 Delved into the Transformative Impact of University-Industry Collaboration in Fostering Talents and Innovation

Ninnart Ratanasukhon
AUN Programme Officer;

The 6th ASEAN+3 Rectors’ Conference was convened on 20-21 September 2023 in Surabaya, Indonesia, with Universitas Airlangga as the host. Under the overarching theme of “the Role of University Collaboration within ASEAN+3 Framework on Innovation and Industry Acceleration Ecosystem,” the knowledge sharing discussion throughout of the two-day conference was structured around cross-sectoral university-industry collaboration and its role in attributing positive impacts to the global society.

In the 2nd session of the conference, we welcomed Mr. Marcelo Tarkieltaub, Regional Director of Rockwell Automation South East Asia, and Assoc. Prof. Liu Peng, Deputy Director, Office of International Cooperation and Exchange, Yunnan University, who joined the discussion and shared their sector-specific perspectives and practical experiences on how to unleash the full potential and positive impact of university-industry partnerships.

Partnership for Future Talents - Rockwell Automation Enhancing STEM Education for Future Generation
ASEAN+3_Session 2_Pic 1.JPG

The first speaker was Mr. Marcelo Tarkieltaub, Regional Director of Rockwell Automation South East Asia. As a voice from the industry, Mr. Tarkieltuab highlighted the central concerns of the global industry and underscored university-industry collaboration as a catalyst for advancing our society towards broader benefits, which are not only about enhanced production efficiency or increased profits but also the significance of giving back to society and fortifying the overall strength of the ecosystem.

When talking about the ‘industry,’ our first thought may go to ‘growth’ and ‘financial benefits.’ However, in the insightful session, Mr. Tarkieltaub drew our attention to other key priorities that have been emerging following the pandemic in the mind of the industry. Cost management, environmental sustainability, and efficiency and productivity are the key priorities that are gaining momentum in the minds of the industry around the world post-pandemic. Consumers now are more conscious of the sustainability and the ethicality of their product’s supply chain and production. Mr. Tarkieltaub pointed to this as one of the areas where universities and industry can collaborate and create a more sustainable ecosystem for the industry.

As a leader in industrial automation and digital transformation, Rockwell Automation has already embarked on various collaborations with universities in the Asia Pacific region, especially in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education.

Since 2009, Rockwell Automation has been an industry partner to the BUILD-IT alliance, a public-private ecosystem funded by USAID to modernise and innovate technology and engineering education in Viet Namese higher education institutions, offering students practical exposure to operating machinery and advanced technology. The collaboration also led to the development of tailored curricula that directly address the specific demands of the predominant industries in the area. The alliance is still ongoing with more academic partners and a students’ Innovation Showcase launched in March 2023.

In July 2022, Rockwell Automation entered into an MOU with Melbourne University, Australia, to assist the Australian manufacturing and resources industry in achieving its decarbonisation target through digital transformation. The MOU provides Rockwell Automation and Melbourne University a platform to collaborate on research activities, develop training, and enhance real-world training for students. This MOU also serves as a prime example of what kind of resources each side can bring to the collaborating table, with Rockwell bringing in engineering resources and industrial expertise, while the University of Melbourne contributing the research and academic expertise.

Lastly, in May 2023, Rockwell also entered into another MOU with the USAID Higher Education Partnership Initiative (HEPI) project, implemented by Arizona State University, to advance Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education in Indonesian higher education institutions. Under this MOU, Rockwell Automation will provide hardware, software, and training support to develop advanced automation teaching labs at Indonesian higher education institutions. Such collaboration prepares the ground for hands-on and industry-linked learning activities that will ensure Indonesian students’ readiness when entering the workforce.

Yunnan University's Dynamic University-Industry Partnership Driving Talent Cultivation and Regional Innovation
ASEAN+3_Session 2_Pic 2.JPG

Following Mr. Tarkieltaub’s insight from the industrial sector, Assoc. Prof. Liu Peng, Deputy Director, Office of International Cooperation and Exchange, on behalf of Prof. Wang  Kunhua, Vice President, Yunnan University, stepped onto the stage and shared his perspectives as a higher education official on what both sides stand to gain from promoting collaborative university-industry partnerships. 

Assoc. Prof. Liu first underlined the significance of regional cooperation. Divided by geopolitical and terrestrial borders, regional cooperation plays a vital role in facilitating multilateral and cross-regional resource sharing, economic development, technological advancement as well as policy alignment.  In the case where effective regional cooperation is at work, different countries and regions can leverage greater mutual benefits in four specific areas (specialised industry development, resource  adaptation, market connectivity, as well as governmental and geopolitical policy alignment). In other words, regional cooperation is important in ensuring that different countries and regions can grow and prosper together.

In this connection, higher education institutions play a fundamental role in promoting regional cooperation through four primary dimensions, according to Assoc. Prof. Liu:

Talent Cultivation University-industry partnerships promote practical and tailored learning and research experience among students and academics, equipping them with specialised tools and knowledge.
Research and Innovation Higher education institutions can capitalise on specialised industries and their expertise to propel research and innovation forward.
Cultural Exchange Collaboration between the two sectors further emboldens integrative communications and exchange among participants from different cultures.
Social Services University-industry collaboration can be harnessed to address pressing societal issues, provide comprehensive social support and initiate impactful research based initiatives.


In the case of Yunnan University, the institution has been actively collaborating with the industry in refining the talent cultivation process and promoting entrepreneurship. The university's industry partners include local and major international companies such as Tencent, Baidu, and Huawei, to name a few. Innovation centres, laboratories, and training bases are set up on campus to capitalise on the benefits of their partnerships and serve as a technological transfer point between the university and the industry. Lastly, throughout Yunnan University’s continued collaboration with the industry, its students are also provided with more opportunity to learn and grow alongside the industry’s top players.

The session concluded the first day of the 6th ASEAN+3 Rectors’ Conference with a promising vision of synergy the university-industry collaboration could bring to nurture future talents, refine research direction, and push forward innovations for the betterment of the industry, the communities, and overall, the global societies.

To find out more about our previous coverage of the insights and key takeaways from the 6th ASEAN+3 Rectors’ Conference, please refer to the following links: