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UK, India research and innovation relationship set for a giant leap

The UK and India are working tirelessly to address global challenges through the application of science and technology.

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The UK’s Minister for Universities, Science and Cities, the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, met the Indian Minister for Science and Technology Hon Dr Harsh Vardhan in New Delhi on 12 November 2014. The ministers agreed to take the UK-India research and innovation relationship to a greater level with the announcement of a significant new initiative which will be known as the Newton-Bhabha Fund.

At the fourth UK-India Science and Innovation Council (SIC), held in New Delhi on 12 November, the two ministers, who co-chaired the meeting, applauded the significant role that the UK-India research and innovation partnership had played in bringing together the best researchers in both countries.

The ministers noted that the UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) had been successful in building new scientific partnerships through joint research projects and networking. It was agreed in principle to augment and continue UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) Phase III.

Speaking about the Newton-Bhabha programme, Minister Greg Clark said:

I hope this exciting new programme will deliver as much to global science as Newton and Bhabha. By working together to address big societal challenges, like sustainable cities, health, food, energy and water, UK and India can deliver tangible benefits for our countries and the world.

Dr Harsh Vardhan said:

India and the UK are two nations linked through history. We enjoy a warm and close multifaceted relationship. I believe in many ways our future will be even more closely linked in this 21st century of knowledge economy. Science, technology and innovation will certainly play a very significant role in building a partnership through which we can together meet the global challenges and societal aspirations of our two countries.

The Newton-Bhabha Fund (£50 million over 5 years from the UK with equivalent resources from India) is an important programme with a strong interdisciplinary dimension that will further strategise science, research and innovation cooperation between the UK and India.

A series of new Newton-Bhabha programmes were welcomed, including:

  • fellowships for leaders in innovation, providing training to take innovations to market, supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering and India’s Department of Science and Technology (DST), in partnership with the Economic Times and the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad. In addition, a number of fellowship programmes will be finalised to support leading researchers.

  • British Council India and DST, India joint PhD student mobility programme. This will sponsor UK and Indian PhD students to spend a period of their study (three to six months) in premier Indian and UK higher education institutions starting from March 2015. The aim of the programme is to pave the way for the next generation of researchers in the UK and India to interact with each other and build long-term research and development linkages and collaborations.

  • the UK’s Medical Research Council (MRC) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) joint initiative for new research projects in mental health and substance abuse. Up to £2 million is available from the UK and ICMR will fund the Indian component.

  • up to £10 million for joint global research programme in women’s and children’s health funded by the UK’s Medical Research Council (MRC), Department of International Development (DFID) and India’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT).

  • up to £7 million for joint centre partnerships in cancer biology, translational regenerative medicines in neuroscience and antimicrobial resistance, funded by UK’s Medical Research Council (MRC) and India’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT).

  • Innovate UK and India’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) will run a joint industrial research programme to support business-led research and development aimed at tackling grand societal challenges.

Minister Greg Clark also announced another UK-India research partnership in addition to the Newton-Bhabha fund to promote deeper UK-India partnership in historical research through the signing of a memorandum of understanding between UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR).

Minister Greg Clark is accompanied on his visit to India by the chief executives and senior officials of UK’s Academies, the UK Research Councils, UK Innovation Agency and vice chancellors and college principals. The delegation will meet their Indian counterparts to review of existing UK-India collaborations and explore how the two countries could work more closely together.

Stuart Adam, Director
Press and Communications
British High Commission
Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110021
Tel: 44192100; Fax: 24192411

Mail to: Sakthy.Edamaruku

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Published 12 November 2014