CREST-OR is supported by the British Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), with funding from the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), to build capacity for research among Operational Research (OR) academics and practitioners in Southeast Asia.
OR is the discipline of applying advanced quantitative and analytical methods to enhance organisational performance through more effective planning and operational decision-making. The discipline originated in the UK during World War 2 and has since developed into a core field of expertise for business planning. In advanced economies, OR is applied to optimise the efficiency of manufacturing and production, ground, rail, air and sea transport, food supply chains, and healthcare systems, among others. Industries and organisations which utilise OR techniques gain a competitive advantage over those that do not. OR has also been identified as a valuable tool for supporting sustainable international development, but thus far has received insufficient attention or investment apart from possibly in the field of public health. The transfer of OR knowledge and skills to Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam has been minimal and unsystematic.
The primary beneficiaries of CREST-OR are academic institutions in these five Southeast Asian countries who develop new knowledge and skills to use OR. The project’s three key academic institutions in the UK – the Universities of Kent, Lancaster and Southampton – also benefit from the project by increasing their understanding of how OR techniques can be developed for application to emerging challenges in new contexts across the world. The project builds capacity in the use of OR for solving challenges in four focal areas: disaster management, food security, resilient transport infrastructure and smart cities. These areas were identified based on existing collaborations between the participating institutions, and on the development priorities of the five Southeast Asian nations.
The long-term vision for CREST-OR is to develop a vibrant, independent, and resilient OR community in Southeast Asia, which also extends to neighbouring countries not currently included in the CREST-OR project.