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MIT establishes supply chain research centre in China

Steve Rogerson
March 1, 2016
The government of Ningbo, China – home of the world’s busiest port – is partnering with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to create a global centre for supply chain education and research. MIT’s Center for Transportation & Logistics (CTL) will establish and develop the Ningbo Supply Chain Innovation Institute China (NSIIC).
The centre in China will join the global MIT Supply Chain & Logistics Excellence (Scale) network, which includes centres in Colombia, Spain, Luxembourg and Malaysia.
The Ningbo-Zhoushan Port, located on the coast of the East China Sea in Zhejiang province, surpassed Shanghai in 2012 to become the largest port in the world in terms of cargo tonnage, with 744 million metric tons of volume that year. Ningbo will leverage CTL’s experience as a centre for supply chain knowledge creation to build a research institute at this major hub for global trade.
“The government of Ningbo is eager to begin this partnership with MIT,” said the mayor of Ningbo, Lu Ziyue. “Ningbo is already a global leader in cargo logistics, and the new institute will be at a global vanguard of supply chain innovation and education. The continual flow of supply chain ideas and leaders will enable companies to further expand and diversify the economic growth of our region.”
Dedicated to supply chain education and research, the Scale network includes six centres on four continents: NSIIC and CTL; the Zaragoza Logistics Center in Spain; the Center for Latin-America Logistics Innovation in Bogota, Colombia; the Malaysia Institute for Supply Chain Innovation; and the Luxembourg Centre for Logistics.
“The supply-chain researchers and practitioners linked through the MIT Scale network have developed a superb understanding of how to move goods and services around the world with efficiency and speed,” said MIT president Rafael Reif. “The ability to manage these processes effectively has immense importance for society, from accelerating innovation to reducing carbon emissions. Given the scale and impact of Ningbo’s shipping operations, it will immediately become a central player in the MIT Scale network.”
The building that will house NSIIC has already been identified, and the plans for renovations are underway. The NSIIC will be an independent, stand-alone, degree-granting academic institution established under Chinese law. MIT is already working with leaders from the region to recruit top faculty from around the world.
“China is an essential component of nearly every global supply chain, and nearly one billion tons of goods flow through Ningbo each year,” said Yossi Sheffi, director of CTL and the Scale network. “Positioning a research institute at that crossroads of global commerce provides our faculty and students with a unique perspective.”
Graduate students at Scale network centres benefit from the shared knowledge created through this collaboration and also participate in the network's global research projects. They take part in MIT’s global educational exchange, travelling to other network centres and learning alongside other network students. “In essence,” Sheffi said, “our Scale network educational model mirrors the global structure of the multinational companies that hire our graduates.”
NSIIC will open in the autumn of 2016 with its first master’s students matriculating a year later. The master’s degree will be modelled after the MIT’s supply chain management programme, which grants a master of engineering in logistics degree. There are also plans for a doctoral degree as well as a portfolio of professional courses for executives, symposia, short courses and extended on-site events and activities to reinforce NSIIC’s connections with corporate partners.
Launched in 1973, CTL is one of the world’s leading centres for supply chain education and research. Part of the MIT School of Engineering, CTL coordinates more than 100 supply chain research efforts across the MIT campus and around the globe. The centre also educates students and corporate leaders in the essential principles of supply chain management and helps organisations increase productivity and improve their environmental performance.
The Scale network is an international alliance of research and education centres dedicated to the development of supply chain and logistics excellence through innovation. Launched in 2008, the network now spans Europe, North America, Latin America and Asia with over ten graduate and executive education programmes, 80 supply chain and logistics faculty and research partners, 100 corporate and organisation partners, and more than 1000 alumni working worldwide.
Ningbo is the most active economic centre in the south wing of Yangtze River delta economic zone in China, and is the largest petrochemical-industry base with the biggest refinery in the country. The city’s large manufacturing base includes the Geely Group VW, with the production reaching ten million per year. It has been listed in Forbes “Chinese Best Business Cites” for ten consecutive years.
At present, Ningbo is actively promoting its Port Economic Circle Initiative to modernise the city and increase its international reach. A leading initiative is focused on the new Center for Shipping & Logistics.