UK Government

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills: UK and India forge two new research collaborations to tackle global challenges

Press Release   •   Feb 18, 2010 08:41 GMT

Two major research deals have been signed between the UK and India, Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills, Pat McFadden, announced today.

UK and Indian researchers will collaborate on health research and the changing global water cycles – which both present huge challenges for our societies as we adapt to a changing climate.

Mr McFadden, who is visiting India to strengthen our science and innovation ties, said:

“These two agreements are vital, especially as they seek to address challenges that have major global implications for the future. They bring together leading researchers in the UK and India and strengthen the science and innovation relationship between our two countries.

“But at the heart of these ambitious collaborations is a mutual drive to bring positive benefits to the daily lives of millions of people in India, the UK and the rest of the world.”

The UK Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to encourage research on major global health issues.

As part of this new collaboration, both agencies will launch a joint call later this year for research on chronic non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and chronic respiratory diseases, which are highly prevalent in both countries.

Mr McFadden and the Indian Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Mr Gandhiselvan, discussed the mutual benefits the research would bring during a meeting where the agreement was signed by Dr Alicia Greated (Director of the Research Councils UK (RCUK) office in India) and Dr VM Katoch (Director General of ICMR).

The collaboration will also focus on research areas such as persisting, new and emerging infections and the impact of environmental change on health.

Mr McFadden and Indian Earth Sciences Minister Prithviraj Chavan also signed an MOU between the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) to collaborate on changing water cycles.

This work will improve predictions on future patterns of flood and drought, and help in the development of effective protection schemes. For many regions, including the south of Britain and parts of India, there is no clear picture on whether climate change will mean more or less rain.

Over the long term, improved predictions will help both countries to choose the crops best suited to local conditions, potentially saving lives and safeguarding property.

Mr McFadden is in India to strengthen scientific and innovation collaboration between the two countries, particularly on key challenges for the UK and India. These include improving the provision of education, equipping people with the tools and skills to rebuild the global economy, and mitigating the effects of climate change.

Turning research into innovation is key to future prosperity, and during his visit, the Minister discussed how business can engage with the UK and India’s ambitious science agenda, especially in priority areas such as food security, networking and mobile communications and sustainable energy.

He attended a meeting with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in New Delhi, where he was able to further discuss UK-India business engagement in infrastructure, innovation and skills arising from the Joint Economic Trade Committee meeting in January.

He also met with the British Business Group and met representatives from 10 major British companies, including BAE Systems, Cobham, Grant Thornton, BBC and 3i, to discuss how British businesses can capitalise on UK-Indian partnerships.

Notes to Editors

1. For India media queries, please contact Deepti Soni on Deepti.Soni@fco.gov.uk or call on +91-9810312913.

2. For UK media queries, please contact Rachel Clarke, BIS press office, on Rachel.clarke@bis.gsi.gov.uk or call: 18002 020 7215 5945.

3. UK and Indian scientists are already working to improve the prediction of floods and drought in India. NERC has committed £10 million in the Changing Water Cycle Programme – a major research programme being developed as part of the Living with Environmental Change partnership.

4.  During his visit to India (13-17 Feb), the Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills, Pat McFadden addressed the second bilateral India-UK Science and Innovation Council (SIC) meeting in New Delhi with the Indian Minister for Science and Technology Prithviraj Chavan. More details about the visit can be found at http://ukinindia.fco.gov.uk.

5.  Several research collaborations were announced during the meeting including:

·        A £10 million collaboration on two research programmes to develop cost-effective and efficient solar energy systems. The solar energy projects form part of RCUK Energy Programme led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

·        Two joint programmes between the RCUK Energy programme led by EPSRC and the Indian Department of Science and Technology (DST):

·        Bridging the Urban/Rural Divide – focusing on utilising transformative ICT for advances in health care and off-grid energy supply to enable whole systems, multi-disciplinary research to address the challenge of making rural living a sustainable option for both countries.

·         Materials for fuel cells – addressing challenges in energy storage and bringing together experts including those from RCUK Energy Programme’s Supergen Consortia and India’s prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology among others.

·      A Memorandum of Understanding between DST and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills to affirm their mutual interest in promoting long-term research, development and innovation co-operation. This includes funding from both departments to establish a networking scheme later this year to provide a platform for UK-based scientists and Indian researchers to continue and consolidate their collaborations for the future.

·      A new £35,000 (co-funded by BIS and DST) PraxisUnico Technology Transfer Courses programme starting in December 2010 to introduce the Indian scientific community to UK best practice and world-leading experience in innovation management and knowledge transfer.

·      An IMPACTS interactive workshop taking place in December 2010 to help researchers and companies in the UK and India to collaborate successfully on technology development and transfer. RCUK has committed up to £50,000 to fund the project.

6. Mr McFadden announced that the UK and India have signed the Civil Nuclear Co-operation Declaration – a welcome step forward for both countries to achieve low carbon growth. Both the UK and India recognise the important role that nuclear energy will play in ensuring energy security.  Low carbon innovations are central to the UK growth strategy that Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Lord Mandelson launched last month.

7. For almost 100 years the Medical Research Council (MRC) has improved the health of people in the UK and around the world by supporting the highest quality science. The MRC invests in world-class scientists. It has produced 29 Nobel Prize winners and sustains a flourishing environment for internationally recognised research. The MRC focuses on making an impact and provides the financial muscle and scientific expertise behind medical breakthroughs, including the first antibiotic penicillin, the structure of DNA and the lethal link between smoking and cancer. Today MRC funded scientists tackle research into the major health challenges of the 21st century. www.mrc.ac.uk

8. The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funds world-class science, in universities and its own research centres, that increases knowledge and understanding of the natural world. It is tackling major environmental issues such as climate change, biodiversity and natural hazards. NERC receives around £400 million a year from the government's science budget, which is used to provide independent research and training in the environmental sciences. www.nerc.ac.uk

Notes to editors

Department for Business, Innovation & Skills

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is building a dynamic and competitive UK economy by: creating the conditions for business success; promoting innovation, enterprise and science; and giving everyone the skills and opportunities to succeed. To achieve this it will foster world-class universities and promote an open global economy. BIS - Investing in our future.

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