On the 25th of October, 2018, an event was organised in New Delhi to celebrate the successes of a decade-long Indo-UK collaboration in research and innovation, and to mark the launch of the UK Research and Innovation India (UKRI India). UKRI India is a new body that partners with universities, research organisations, and government funding agencies to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish.
The event saw enthusiastic participation from scientists and policymakers from both the countries, who appreciated the positive outcomes of academic and research collaborations in the past. Sir Dominic Asquith, the British High Commissioner to India, Professor Melanie Welham, Executive Chair, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC-UKRI), Professor Mark Thomson, Executive Chair, Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC-UKRI), Mr Daniel Shah, Director, UKRI India and many other dignitaries from the UK spoke on the occasion.
Prof K. Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, addressed the gathering and said that science and technology must be the fulcrum of change for socio-economic growth. He also stressed the need for a global partnership to achieve the same. Dr Renu Swarup, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, appreciated the positive outcomes of the Indo-UK collaboration in cutting-edge research, technology development and capacity building in diverse areas like agriculture, healthcare, and energy sector.
In the various panel discussions organised as a part of the event, Prof Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, Prof Balram Bhargava, Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research, Dr M.N. Rajeevan, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India, and others shared their views on diverse topics like future challenges, focus on capacity building and new priorities in scientific and technological research.
The Research Councils UK (RCUK) India, launched in 2008, was playing a significant role in strengthening the research collaboration between the two countries in the past. Since then, the governments of the two countries, along with third parties, have invested over £300 million in co-funded research and innovation programmes. This funding has supported over 200 individual projects involving about 175 research institutions in the UK and India, and more than 100 industry partners.
“Collaborative projects cover an array of themes, including, energy, environment, food security, health, next-generation IT networks, social sciences, and humanities,” reads a report shared by the UKRI.
With growing newer challenges to address, the collaboration is getting stronger. An investment of one million pounds in 2008, meant for collaborative projects, has now expanded to over 300 million pounds. According to a statement from UKRI, this collaboration with India, one of the world’s fastest-growing large economies and a major research power, drives shared prosperity, extends the frontiers of human knowledge and a strong partnership addressing shared global development goals.