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UK and India team up to push scientific and cultural boundaries

08 Nov 2016

A series of joint UK/India research initiatives worth up to £80 million were announced today by the UK Science Minister, Jo Johnson and Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, India.

The investments were announced during the India-UK Tech Summit being held in New Delhi and attended by UK and Indian Prime Ministers Theresa May and Narendra Modi. The TECH Summit has brought together British and Indian science and technology experts and businesses to connect and explore the future of India-UK collaboration.

Supported by the UK Government and Indian partners through the Newton Fund, the joint research being delivered by the Research Councils will address major global challenges including anti-microbial resistance, healthcare and water quality.   

Initiatives include reducing energy demand, addressing the urgent need to combat anti-microbial resistance; cleaning, processing and exploiting polluting industrial waste streams; providing clean water supplies, and addressing reproductive health issues facing women in low-income settings. Another scheme will expand a project to digitise an additional 3,000 Bengali books that will improve the reach of cultural research.

Jo Johnson, UK Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation said: “The joint research programmes announced today show the depth and breadth of the relationship that exists between the UK and India. They will increase our collective knowledge, improve the lives of ordinary citizens and help tackle some of the major infrastructure and environmental challenges that lie ahead. Research has to be international and collaborative in its focus because the problems we face do not recognise borders.”

Professor Philip Nelson, Chair of the RCUK Executive Group and CEO of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) said: “International research collaborations that draw on the talents of academics across the world, are vital for us to tackle the big global challenges. Cooperation improves understanding of different cultures and ways of working. The UK’s Research Councils will use the calls and projects announced today to build a prosperous, cleaner and healthier future.”

New UK-India research initiatives, supported by the Newton Fund, Research Councils UK and Indian funding partners, to address major global challenges and expand cultural horizons:

  • A £13 million UK-India research programme will strengthen the global fight against anti-microbial resistance (AMR). The UK and Indian science ministers will announce the investment  when they open the inaugural meeting of the Research Councils UK-India Strategic Group on AMR, in New Delhi tomorrow.
  • A £7.4 million programme on Energy Demand Reduction in the Built Environment.
    Partners: EPSRC,ESRC, Indian Department of Science and Technology (DST)
  • A £8.4 million programme on water quality. UK and Indian researchers will attend a joint scoping workshop in Delhi later this month.
    Partners: NERC, EPSRC, DST
  • A £16 million programme to support commercially focused research and development partnerships that bring innovative biotechnologies to market for cleaning, processing and using industrial waste streams.
    Partners: Research Councils UK, Innovate UK, India’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT)
  • A £12.6 million phase 2 of Global Research Programme in Women’s and Children’s health between UK-India which will study reproductive health issues facing women and their unborn children in low and middle income countries.
    Partners: MRC, ESRC, Department for International Development (DFID), DBT
  • Expansion of the Two Centuries of Indian Print digitisation project to digitise an additional 3,000 Bengali books currently held in the British Library.
    Partners: AHRC, British Library

Other Newton Fund programmes:

  • Launch of the £10 million joint virtual centre on clean energy that will address the problems of integrating smart grids and energy storage.
    Partners: EPSRC, DST
  • Five new UK-India projects have been awarded funding under the £6.5 million programme on Atmospheric Pollution and Human Health in an Indian Megacity. These projects will investigate the human health impacts of urban air pollution in the Indian megacity of Delhi.
    Partners: NERC, MRC, DBT, Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences
  • RCUK and Innovate UK are also announcing seven awards for the research and innovation bridges post-harvest loss that will address areas such as: producing affordable and improved food packaging; minimal processes to control ripening and reduce spoilage; using waste; and green technologies for food distribution.
    Partners: RCUK, Innovate UK, DBT
  • Implementation of a UK-India programme of collaboration and access to the UK’s world-class national neutron and muon facility.
    Partners: STFC, DST

Additional Research Councils UK programmes announced:

  • Launch of phase 4 of the RCUK-India Department of Atomic Energy Civil Nuclear Energy Research Programme which will look at new technologies that contribute to nuclear safety, and future civil nuclear systems.

Since 2011, RCUK India has facilitated co-funded initiatives between the UK, India and third parties that have grown to over £200 million in joint research programmes supporting over 100 projects and including over 90 industry partners.

The UK research councils will continue to build on these existing research collaborations with India and UK researchers, research facilities and research institutions will carry on working together solving the numerous pressing challenges that face both countries.

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