BENGALURU: A virtual awards ceremony for the recipients of the Australian Alumni Grant Scheme (AAGS) 2021, was held at the Australian Consulate-General in Chennai, on Friday.Hosted by Michael Costa, Deputy Consul General for South India, the event was organised in presence of Senator Marise Payne, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Barry O’Farrell AO, Australian High Commissioner to India.
Initiated by the Australian government under the Comprehensive Economic Partnership between Australia and India, AAGS provides seed funding to alumni-led projects. Each grant is awarded up to AUD 20,000. An all-India pilot programme for the same was developed in 2020 by the Australian Consulate-General in Chennai.
“It was to support alumni to apply the knowledge and experience gained through their studies in Australia with projects aimed at solving real-world problems across both countries,” said the High Commissioner. He also mentioned that the 2021 round saw 63 high-quality submissions and that over AUD 150,000 were awarded to the selected 13.
The 13 recipients shared their projects from various fields, including environment, technology, agriculture, communication, gender, clean energy and more. Of the selected, four represented Chennai-based teams - Madhavi Shankar for communication app SpaceBasic, Venkateswaran Palat Krishnan for STEM Challenge Pilot, Ashok Jalagam for an Automated Millet Finder, and Lakshmi Venugopal for an Indo-Australian Platform on Environmental Education and Research (IA-PEER). The remaining recipients were posted in Kolkata, Mumbai, and New Delhi.
Congratulating the recipients, Senator Payne said, “The partnership recognises the important role that our alumni play in building bilateral ties. You are a living bridge between the two countries and we value the role you play as unofficial ambassadors for Australia’s world-class education system”.
Also being the Minister for Women, she adds that she is pleased to see a gamut of projects working towards the empowerment of women and the involvement of the female recipients.
Speaking of the success of the first round of AAGS, she mentioned two stand-out projects. One being clinical trials of cytokine medicated anti-COVID-19 therapy by senior surgical oncologist Dr Akshay Kudpaje, in consultation with doctors of Westmead Hospital, Macquarie University Hospital and University of Sydney.
Next was The Data Duck, an app to enable the Australian alumni community to network across geographies, disciplines and professions, founded by Ritu David.“I’m pleased to see the recipients of last year have great success. I’m proud of the indispensable contribution that Australians of Indian descent, migrants, and Indian students make to our diverse, multicultural nation,” Senator Payne added.A call for Round 3 applications will be made in December 2021.
For details, visit chennai.consulate.gov.au/cnai/AAGS.