UK-India Science Ministers announce joint research projects to address shared challenges

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UK-India Science Ministers announce joint research projects to address shared challenges

The UK Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Jo Johnson and Indian Minister of State for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences Shri Y S Chowdary together announced new UK-India joint research projects and saw high-impact current Research Councils-India collaborations succeed at the first ever Newton Prize award ceremony at the National Science Centre, New Delhi.

Both Ministers applauded the flourishing UK-India research and innovation partnership and congratulated the UK Research Councils and Indian funding bodies for working as true partners and delivering swiftly on the commitments made by their Prime Ministers in New Delhi a year ago.

They welcomed the RCUK and India’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT) partnership addressing Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), an increasingly serious threat to public and animal health, and released a Joint Mapping Report on AMR Research in India commissioned by RCUK and DBT. The report identifies gaps in our understanding, and highlights that we can use multi-disciplinary research to fill key areas of potential action including the environment, industrial waste, farming practise, and how people use and understand valuable antibiotic drugs.

The Ministers announced new awards from joint programmes delivered by the UK Research Councils and Indian partners under the Newton-Bhabha Fund:

  • Eight new joint research projects funded under the India-UK Water Quality programme (Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in partnership with India’s Department of Science and Technology (DST))
  • Four new research projects on Energy Demand Reduction in the Built Environment programme (EPSRC and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in partnership with DST)
  • £7 million joint programme on UK-India Agricultural Data: Enhancement by Integration, Interpretation and Reusability (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), and NERC in partnership with DBT)
  • Extension of funding for the India-UK Water Centre (IUKWC)

(Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) in partnership with NERC)

These projects will bring together the best minds and facilities from the UK and India to address shared social and economic challenges such as public health, clean water, and demand for energy, where excellent research can contribute to national missions.

Minister Jo Johnson also visited the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, where he was impressed by the fast advances in technology made by the EPSRC-DST project – Advancing the Efficiency and Production Potential of Excitonic Solar Cells (APEX)-II that could eventually revolutionise the affordability of cheaper electricity. He announced:

  • A new project focussed on innovation and skills enhancement between STFC’s Central Laser Facility (CLF) and India’s Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) under which Indian engineers will be trained on cutting-edge technology as they jointly develop control systems for next-generation high power lasers to be built in the UK.

Shri Y S Chowdary, Minister of State for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, said: “I am delighted at the announcement of the partnership between India and the UK on the problem of anti-microbial resistance. I am also delighted to see the announcements of new awards under the Newton-Bhabha programme. India is exponentially growing its science capability and using science and technology to transform society. Our collaboration with the UK shows how partnerships of the highest quality can help both countries advance, as well as have a global positive impact for sustainable development.”

Sir Mark Walport, Chief Executive Designate of UK Research and Innovation said: “The UK and India are working together to deliver world class research. These new collaborative projects will strengthen bonds between our research communities and deepen our collective understanding across a range of fields: from energy and water to medicine and physics. Creating opportunities for the UK to collaborate with the best scientists from around the world is a core focus of UK Research and Innovation.”

Professor K. VijayRaghavan, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, said: The Department of Biotechnology is very pleased to see how well our collaborations with RCUK have gone and how many new ones at the next level are being started. India sees science and technology as the fulcrum to attain its sustainable development goals. Our partnership with the UK benefits both countries immensely, but also has impact for global good. Amongst the many exciting collaborations, a new one on agriculture is particularly ambitious and aims to cater to farmers with small- and marginal- holdings by delivering decision making tools based on the latest technologies from biotech to artificial intelligence. The new partnership and report on antimicrobial resistance is another major milestone. It follows directly from the meetings of our Prime Minster with the UK PM and their joint-statement.”

Daniel Shah, Director RCUK India, said: ‘India is the fastest growing major research power and the UK is the highest quality major research power. We have a true partnership delivering excellent, high impact research across disciplines and innovation connecting academics and businesses. Together our collaboration helps us both better understand, and make better, the world in which we live.’

Reported By Indrajit Mitra with inputs from Research Councils UK (RCUK) India