By Dr Nafees Meah, Director RCUK India.
This has been a truly tremendous week for the Indo-UK research partnership. UK Prime Minister David Cameron came to India on 18th February with the largest business and academic delegation ever to accompany a British Prime Minister. That’s not counting four Ministers and a cross-party group of British Parliamentarians who also accompanied him.
Eleven UK University Vice Chancellors came not only to talk about the UK offer in Higher Education but also to launch a whole series of institution-to-institution partnerships cementing further the research links between the UK and India. Universities of Edinburgh, Cambridge, Warwick and Cardiff all had major announcements to make on new partnerships.
The icing on the cake for the RCUK India team, however, was the extensive reference to the joint research programmes that we have set up with our Indian partners over the last four years, in the Summit Communiqué. This states that [PMs Cameron and Singh] welcomed the rapid expansion of India-UK research and development cooperation which is helping to generate and develop high quality and high impact research partnerships leading to new knowledge creation. Since RCUK India opened in 2008, the value of the co-funded research partnership has gone from less than £1 million to over £100 million and is still rising. This is a reflection of both the strength of the UK and Indian research bases but also that crucial, global issues are being addressed through ground breaking research – renewable and other forms of energy, food security, climate change, water management, advanced engineering – are key to the future prosperity of both countries. Research collaboration is seen by both countries as a lynchpin, bringing us closer together.
It’s not only in the areas of physical sciences that we have established a very successful partnership, but also in the area of social sciences, arts and the humanities. India with its population of 1.2 billion undergoing rapid transition from a rural to a more urbanized society is going to be a fascinating place to study to learn about how and why these transitions happen and the cultural dimension of this rapid change.
We highlighted a series of new and ongoing programmes and initiatives; more information is available in our press note here.
There was an excellent meeting between our Science Minister, David Willets, and his Indian counterpart, Shri S Jaipal Reddy at which both said how much they welcomed the intensification of the relationship on research between the two countries. David Willets highlighted eight technology areas of interest to the UK for international collaboration. These were: the big data revolution and energy efficient computing; satellite technology; robotics and autonomous vehicles; synthetic biology; regenerative medicine; agri-science; advanced materials and nanotechnology; and energy storage.
It looks like we are going to be very busy…