The University of Waterloo has signed a research partnership with two Chinese institutions that the southern Ontario school says will advance research into connected and autonomous vehicle technology.

According to the university's press release, Waterloo will work with the Qingdao Academy of Intelligent Industries and the State Key Laboratory for Management and Control of Complex Systems to establish a shared autonomous driving research centre and a Waterloo-based PhD program focused on self-driving vehicles. The deal will also facilitate Chinese startups establishing R&D facilities in the Waterloo region.

Each of the Chinese institutes have committed $1 million per year over five years to fund collaborative activities, while Waterloo will kick in $4 million toward the construction of an autonomous lab facility. All three institutions say they will seek funding from other sources, with Waterloo seeking government funding for its lab facility.

The University of Waterloo partnership strengthens southern Ontario's position as a hub for auto industry research; late last year, the Ontario government granted $80 million to self-driving research in a variety of municipalities, including $5 million for the Kitchener–Waterloo area.