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New Report Demonstrates Critical Role of Research Universities In Solving Asia-Pacific Challenges

News Release
For Immediate Release

New Report Demonstrates Critical Role of Research Universities
In Solving Asia-Pacific Challenges

Note to editors: A copy of the report can be downloaded at the link provided in this press release. You will find the data useful for stories on sustainability, climate change, urban development, health, Pacific Rim natural disasters, higher education investment and Asia-Pacific economic growth. Jpegs of the graphics in the report are available upon request.

Hong Kong, 19 August, 2016 – The Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) has released the APRU Impact Report 2016, a comprehensive study of comparative data and case studies demonstrating the value and impact of the work of the 45 APRU member universities, on their societies and the challenges of the region.

In-depth analysis and more than two dozen case studies and graphics about critical global issues are featured covering health, infectious diseases, investment in education and workforce readiness, environmental changes and disaster preparedness, population demographics, global religions, exports and trade. It is the first phase of a three-year pilot project that identifies information and analyses that will be useful to policymakers considering policy options arising from the region’s opportunities and risks.

One particular area of focus in the Report details how APRU’s Multi-Hazards Program led from the International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS) at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan and other member universities across the Asia-Pacific, are collaborating to build safer and more resilient societies on the ‘Ring of Fire’ which are susceptible to tsunami, floods, earthquakes and volcanic activity. Through education and research, the Multi-Hazards program has succeeded in enhancing disaster preparedness measures on campuses and improving dialogue with governments, industry and civil society. These efforts are instrumental to the implementation of the Sendai Framework, which was adopted at the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in March 2015.

Christopher Tremewan, APRU Secretary General, presented the findings of the Impact Report at the recent APRU Annual Presidents Meeting, in Kuala Lumpur. “No single nation can solve the cross-border issues that confront them, said Dr.Tremewan. “The value of international collaboration is crucial, and APRU is an ideal platform to facilitate the interdisciplinary research and partnerships required to find the solutions to the critical challenges of the region.” 

The APRU Impact Report draws extensively on research metrics provided by data partner Elsevier, one of the world’s largest data companies and publishers

Download the report at

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About APRU

The Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) is an international network of 45 leading research universities from 17 APEC economies.

APRU was established in 1997 by the presidents of the California Institute of Technology (Thomas Everhart), the University of California, Berkeley (Chang-Lin Tien), the University of California, Los Angeles (Charles Young) and the University of Southern California (Steven B. Sample). Seeing the rapid economic integration of the Asia-Pacific region and the formation of APEC, their inspiration was to create APRU as the premier alliance of leading research universities in the region as an advisory body to international organisations, governments and business on the development of science and innovation, and on the broader development of higher education. The vision now encompasses focusing new knowledge on the global challenges affecting the region.

Located initially in Los Angeles and then in Singapore, the APRU International Secretariat is now based in Hong Kong on the campus of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

About Elsevier

Elsevier is a world-leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals, empowering them to make better decisions, deliver better care, and make ground-breaking discoveries that advance the boundaries of knowledge and human progress.  Elsevier provides web-based, digital solutions — among them ScienceDirect, Scopus, Elsevier Research Intelligence and ClinicalKey — and publishes over 2,500 journals and more than 33,000 book titles, including a number of iconic reference works.  Elsevier is part of RELX Group plc, a world-leading provider of information solutions for professional customers across industries.

For additional information, or to arrange media interviews please contact:

Ashley Pereira

Communications Manager, APRU

Tel: +852 3469 2550

Fax:  +852 2719 5756

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Marie Gentile

Finn Partners New York

Tel: 1646-213-7249

Mobile: 1917-679-6299

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

19 August 2016
Published in APRU News

APRU Presidential Retreat and 20th Annual Presidents Meeting

Collaborating across borders to resolve societies’ most pressing challenges

APRU Presidential Retreat and 20th Annual Presidents Meeting, Kuala Lumpur, 26-28 June 2016 
  1. APRU Impact Report Launched
  2. Leading Economists Highlight International Shifts
  3. Presidential Statement On Gender Equity And Diversity
  4. UCLA Chancellor Takes Over As Chair Of APRU
  5. Presidential Retreat: Presidents Exchange Views On Common Challenges
  6. APRU’s Directions
  7. University of Malaya– The Perfect Host


Click here to view APRU Impact Report 2016 and Executive Summary.
Click here to view APM photographs. 
Click here to view APM video.
Click here to view program, list of participants and presentations. 

 APRU Impact Report Launched

The APRU Impact Report 2016 provides for the first time the evidence base for the contribution of leading research universities to the Asia-Pacific’s most pressing challenges and to the social and economic well-being of societies. This report provides an overview of the expertise of APRU’s member universities and the current state of play regarding international collaboration in key fields of research and education. It does this through contextual data, research metrics and case studies. 

(Photo: University of Malaya)

President Tony Chan, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), demonstrated how APRU presidents could employ the report on the public policy front, for instance, as a useful piece of resource to inform government agencies, such as the University Grants Committee in Hong Kong, on the contribution of research universities on resolving societies’ most pressing challenges, whilst advocating for further investment in research.

(Photo: University of Malaya)

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic & International) Awang Bulgiba Awang Mahmud, University of Malaya (UM), spoke about UM’s contribution to society by highlighting two cases in the report. They were case study 9: UM’s Centre of Excellence for Research in AIDS’ (CERIA) needle exchange and methadone programme efforts reduced the spread of HIV epidemics driven by drug injection; and case study 21: UM’s Centre for Separation Science and Technology’s (CSST) built a mobile ultrafiltration system which supplied clean water to disaster victims.

(Photo: University of Malaya) 

Dr Brad Fenwick, Senior Vice President for Global Strategic Alliances, Elsevier, and APRU Senior Advisor, stated that the report provided tangible and direct evidence of the high calibre impact that APRU institutions have made through international collaboration among member universities.

10 August 2016
Published in APRU News

APRU partners with PRRLA

At the recent Annual Presidents Meeting in June, the Steering Committee agreed that the Pacific Rim Research Libraries Alliance (PRRLA) should be recognised as an affiliate organisation of APRU.

The consensus was to recommend affiliation with PRRLA rather than attempt to create a parallel organisation exclusively of APRU library directors.  It was decided by the university presidents that APRU library directors who are not currently members of PRRLA be invited to join.

Currently, PRRLA consists of 21 APRU library directors, along with 12 other institutions in the region (see membership).

PRRLA is an organisation with a strategic focus on cooperative ventures across academic libraries located around the Pacific Rim with the goal of improving access to scholarly research materials.

The organisation began as the Pacific Rim Digital Library Alliance over twenty years ago.  A key activity is its annual, three-day meeting in a location that rotates between the eastern and western sides of the Pacific.

PRRLA's next meeting will be held at the University of Melbourne from 5-7 December 2016.  For more information, see

The current PRRLA Chair is Ms. Lorelei Tanji, University Librarian, University of California Irvine Libraries and she is happy to answer any queries regarding membership and participation at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

03 August 2016
Published in APRU News

TPP is a win for Asia's digital economy

TPP is a win for Asia's digital economy

By Jim Foster

After nearly 20 years, the internet now stands to deliver on the vision that it promised when first conceived. The emerging digital economy will benefit not just existing companies in the internet space, but countless startups and "old economy" businesses that can respond flexibly and quickly. Perhaps no region stands to gain more from this than Asia.

Yet the actions taken by defense ministries and law enforcement authorities in this area may be just as critical as those made by finance and trade offices. There is a real danger that unilateral assertions of national cyber-sovereignty could fragment Asia's internet and set back the development of an economically integrated and vibrant cyberspace in the region.

In this regard, the recent signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement is both very welcome and timely. The TPP may not be the solution to every problem, but it moves the region in the right direction. Even if not fully implemented, the agreement's chapters on e-commerce can be a core around which businesses large and small can move to the cloud and serve regional and global markets.

For a country like Japan, the importance of the digital economy to overall growth is keenly appreciated, if not completely realized. Its likely early accession to the TPP underscores how the agreement is about much more than agricultural liberalization and autoparts tariffs. 

Similarly, South Korea's recent adoption of the world's first cloud promotion law highlights the intent of government and industry to move beyond the currently saturated domestic information technology market. While South Korea is currently outside the TPP, the agreement will undoubtedly be a spur for the country's "best in market" companies to adjust their policies and perspectives to the new norms sanctioned by the treaty.

As companies consider the opportunities offered in regional markets opened up by the trade pact, there remains a concern as to whether it can deliver on its stated principles. To the extent that the TPP can result in greater alignment of regulations for the digital economy across Asia, the new treaty will help local businesses move quickly to scale by opening markets for goods and services throughout the region.

At the same time, there is controversy over whether the provisions in the TPP in the competition policy area are too weak to provide meaningful protections to smaller players going up against global giants in their home markets. There is a need for more evidence-based research on the pact's impact on competition in national markets and in the region.

A related issue is the contribution of the TPP to improving consumer welfare and protection. Will agreeing to the provisions diminish the signatories' ability to protect domestic users? And can the dispute-resolution mechanisms envisioned in the agreement provide meaningful and timely remedies? This is not yet entirely clear and is again an area for further research. But there is no denying that a key benefit of the digital economy is the way it empowers consumers through greater access to information and cross-border markets.

The transition to a new set of digital economic arrangements will inevitably produce winners and losers. What the Asian economy may look like five years from today depends on many factors, but the TPP will certainly reinforce trends leading to a digitally based regional economy. Countries are joining the agreement because they want to gain the maximum advantage from this shift and in the process are creating a powerful and progressive new trading bloc that is premised on deployment and greater utilization of new internet technologies.

The pact still faces many hurdles. Its image as an innovative arrangement for dealing with the next generation of trade issues has been buffeted by strong suspicions and complaints about the secretive and nontransparent nature of its negotiation process. This may be the first time that a trade agreement of the TPP's complexity has been held to this standard. But if it is to be ratified and implemented, its sponsors will need to address these concerns.

This effort will require mechanisms for building trust and reaching out beyond the traditional trade community. Privacy is a good example. The question of who "owns" the data flows that the TPP facilitates is a problem that can involve the data-protection authorities of multiple jurisdictions. The future impact of the trade deal on the region's digital economy will depend in part on its capacity to serve as a framework for forging innovative responses to such transnational issues.

Jim Foster is executive director of The Asia Pacific Institute for the Digital Economy, a regional think tank based in Tokyo and associated with Keio University. The article is based on discussions at an April 11-12, 2016 conference of academic experts and business leaders convened in Tokyo by the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) as part of a multi-year program of research and exchange on “Governing the Digital Economy in the Asia Pacific Region.”

- Nikkei Asian Review

29 June 2016
Published in APRU News

Can an academic network go where politicians fear to tread?

Can an academic network go where politicians fear to tread? 

Christopher Tremewan tells John O'Leary of his ambitions for the Association of Pacific Rim Universities. They cover reserach in key areas for the region, but also a new role bringing governments together. 

International networks of universities have proliferated over recent years and have brought significant benefits for their members, mainly through research partnerships. The most exclusive of them, like the League of European Research Universities (LERU), carry considerable prestige, as well as providing a forum for discussion of common concerns.

The Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) has many of the same characteristics but, particularly since the arrival of Christopher Tremewan as secretary general, it has displayed broader ambitions.  The APRU believes that it can provide economic and even political benefits for countries in the region, as well as serving its members' interests. 

A New Zealander who was previously vice president/pro-vice-chancellor (international) at the University of Auckland, Dr Tremewan is in his fifth year at the APRU, which is based on the campus of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The association was established in 1997 on the initiative of four Californian universities: Caltech, Berkeley, UCLA and Southern California, but had 34 members by the time it opened for business. 

There are now 45 members from 16 countires, including Chile, Taiwan and Russia, and a queue of universities who would like to join. Over the course of its 18 years, its chairs have come from Singapore, China, Japan and Australia, as well as the United States. 

Interviewed at the British Council's Going Global conference, in London, Dr Tremewan sketched out an ambitious agenda for the association. Indeed, he disclosed that he only accpeted the post condition that he could refocus the network and expand its collaborative work, both with other universities and with governments.

"I am confident and enthusiastic about APRU because it has a unique coherence and reach which fits the current geopolitical shifts towards the Pacific Rim," he says. "There is now huge potential to use this remarkable alliance for truly transformational action which brings together education, research, and innovation with policy in fruitful partnerships engaging other international organizations, governments, business and local communities."

That is not to ignore the institutional interaction that represents the core activities of any higher education network. But Dr Tremewan is determined that APRU should be more than that. In his first year in office, he saw 38 university presidents to ensure that his vision chimed with that of the members.

Dr Tremewan says: "We are still making this a region. One of our objectives is to keep collaborating despite governments' agendas sometimes pulling countries apart from each other. A long term view of the future of the region requires that we get to know each other pretty well.

"We tend to focus on strategic research- data mining on the capabilities of each economy separately and then together on everything from climate change to energy and other topics. That means that we can demonstrate to prime ministers and ministers that we not only have considerable capability in the region, but also where that can be improved with some marginal investment."

Dr Tremewan says that governments in the region are making it clear in discussion with multinational organizations that they want to interact much more with the academic world. "We are at the beginning of that- I wouldn't want to exaggerate the scale of it at the moment," he says. "But it is an important trend." 

Dr Tremewan believes that APRU is ideally placed geographically to play a key role at a difficult but potentially pivotal time for the world. The region accounts for half of global GDP, he points out, and he wonders: "Could there be an overarching think tank?"

"We may be a useful vehicle for member institutions but also for governments to discuss issues they can't deal with face to face at an official level," he says. Problems over intellectual property are one example where inter-governmental processes have broken down in the past. 

He adds: "We are facing turbulence and technological change, and the challenge is to shape the region collectively, whether or not the ways of governing ourselves remain stable. Many countries are completely unable to cope with what is coming at them. There will be moral choices about where we put our resources and advise members."

- QS Showcase 2016 (Main Features)

16 June 2016
Published in APRU News

Can TPP Help Bridge Asia's 'Digital Divide'?

Can TPP Help Bridge Asia's 'Digital Divide'?

How to make sure TPP helps advance the Digital Economy in Asia. 

By Jim Foster

While some parts of Asia are setting the pace for the global Internet, other areas are being left far behind. For example, while Indonesia may have over 90 million people on the Internet, this number is far short of the true potential in a country with a population of over 250 million. The “digital divide” is real and it encompasses infrastructure, governance, and policy weaknesses, and the absence of local firms with regional and global reach.

These issues are challenges not just for domestic constituencies, but for global firms that wish to develop and serve these markets. The diversity within the Asia Pacific region requires service providers to engage with governments and to recognize the importance of involving all elements of the multi-stakeholder community from the start.

This is also true for the recently concluded Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, which was largely negotiated out of public view from necessity and past practice. The ratification and implementation of the agreement will need the support of a wider range of players. Companies that benefit from the Digital Economy in the region, most especially in Japan and the United States, have to be part of this effort.

The Internet is increasingly interwoven into the political and economic lives of Asians. User acceptance is not the issue; shortfalls in Internet growth come from the lack of adequate infrastructure and outdated government regulations. TPP cannot eliminate the “digital divide” in the region, but it can support growth by encouraging domestic and foreign investments, supporting greater regulatory certainty, and promoting a regional digital market where scale is possible.

These positive factors associated with TPP and the groundwork required to move Asia’s Digital Economy forward can be further reinforced by regional infrastructure banks, prominently the Asian Development Bank (ADB). While these institutions are only beginning to focus on the Digital Economy, investments in infrastructure can help bring in additional private capital and encourage groups outside the Digital Economy to capitalize and grow future innovations. This was a key theme at the 2016 G7 ICT Ministers meeting, which Japan hosted in Takamatsu on April 29.

Many elements of civil society in the region have been harshly critical of TPP. Their argument is that TPP cannot ignore the emerging Digital Society if it is to make a meaningful contribution to the growth of the Digital Economy. Privacy, freedom of expression, labor mobility, access to networks, and the availability of content are all important values for the future Digital Society, and these concerns do not always fit neatly into the negotiating priorities of the trade bureaucracies. The proponents of TPP will need to develop a broader narrative for the agreement now that it has entered the ratification process.

APEC can also be an important regional platform for these discussions and has already established a steering group on the Digital Economy. A key focus is how to train the three to five million people that the Asia-Pacific will need to fill new jobs associated with the Internet of Things and Big Data. At the same time, APEC is examining how to manage the “mismatch” between the new Digital Economy and the skill sets of seniors, women, and youth in the less developed parts of the region. Promoting input from civil society and the academic community in developing these policies should be an APEC priority.

Dr. Jim Foster is the Executive Director of The Asia Pacific Institute for the Digital Economy, a regional think tank based in Tokyo and associated with Keio University. The article is based on discussions at an April 11-12, 2016 conference of academic experts and business leaders convened in Tokyo by the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) as part of a multi-year program of research and exchange on “Governing the Digital Economy in the Asia Pacific Region.”

- The Diplomat

02 June 2016
Published in APRU News