Goodbye from Dr Nafees Meah

By Dr Nafees Meah, Director RCUK India

फिर मिलेंगे    (See you later….)

Time has just zipped by and I can’t believe that I am leaving RCUK India office! It has been a great privilege and a lot of fun to be at the helm of RCUK India over the past four years.  Soon after I arrived in India, I wrote a blog about my first impressions.  What struck me then was the palpable sense that India was on the move.  That impression is even stronger four years later – the buzz and the sense of new opportunities has only grown.

Team RCUK India

Team RCUK India

I said then that I was a firm believer in the appliance of science to tackle problems of water and energy access, rapid urbanisation and poverty and, I am very pleased to say, that we have now a substantial portfolio of research and innovation projects addressing these issues.  Our USP in RCUK India has been to work as partners in relationships with our Indian colleagues that are based on mutual trust and confidence.  My proudest achievement has been to have contributed to a real renaissance in the research and innovation partnership between UK and India – the oldest and the largest democracies in the world.

I truly believe that we have achieved a great deal together and what we have done will make a big difference.  I want to thank the best team that I have ever worked with: Sukanya Kumar-Sinha, Geeny George Shaju, Andrew Telford, Chhavi Jain and Monika Sharma.  A lot of what has been achieved has been due to their effort. They have been brilliant.

As we look forward, it is not too difficult to predict that the trade partnership with India will become even more important to the UK following the EU referendum vote.  That may be the silver lining.  But it is crucial that we maintain a strong, long term partnership across a broad range of issues and, whilst trade is important, we do not reduce the measure of our abiding relationship to that metric alone.

It has been a great experience to work as part of the British High Commission family in New Delhi.  I very much hope that my successor, Daniel Shah, has an equally rewarding time as the new Director of RCUK India.   I wish him well.

As for me and my family, we will be starting a new adventure in India – outside the warm embrace of the British High Commission in Delhi.  I shall be taking up new appointment as the South Asia Representative of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).  My office will be in Delhi so I hope that friends in the Research Councils will look me up when you are in this part of the world.  My door will be always open…

Gateway to Research – 2016 Research Outcomes data

The 2016 outcomes data submitted in Researchfish during the submission period (1 February – 10 March 2016) has now been published on Gateway to Research.

The submission rate for researchers was 95% and for students it was 78% with over 346,000 new attributions made. RCUK would like to thank the research organisations, researchers and students for their efforts during the 2016 submission period.

 

Visit http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk/ to view the latest published data.

UK-India research collaboration to understand the Indian monsoon

By Dr Monika Sharma, Newton Fund Delivery Programme Manager.

One of the many unique things about India is its summer monsoon, a weather phenomenon which is one of the oldest, and much awaited patterns every year beginning June through September.

Monsoon has a distinct place in the day–to-day lives of Indians, from Bollywood to the Indian kitchens. There are dedicated rain songs in many Indian movies showing overjoyed love birds dancing around, welcoming and enjoying the rain. Not only does the monsoon make people happy, but they even have special snacks and savouries for these rainy months. This shows the magnitude to which monsoon is loved and anticipated in India.

The Indian economy is vitally linked with the monsoon because of its water resources. A large part of the country (around a billion people) gets more than 80% of the annual rainfall during these four months.

Group picture with Minister Vardhan

Group picture with Minister Vardhan

However, on the flip side, the heavy monsoon rain is also responsible for creating unpleasant situations like long traffic jams, clogged roads or unfortunate flash floods. This year, monsoon floods hit the northeastern Indian state of Assam, killing several people and forcing many more to leave their homes.  In 2013, the monsoon advanced particularly rapidly over northern India, causing devastating damage while, in 2009, prolonged breaks led to a severe shortage of rainfall and poor harvests.

In short, the only thing which doesn’t go well with Indian monsoon is its unpredictability hence affecting day-to-day life in general and lives of poor farmers in particular.

To have a better understanding of the physical processes of the monsoon, the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), India the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), UK and the UK Met Office have joined hands under a research programme called The Drivers of Variability in the South Asian Monsoon, with a combined investment of about £11.4 million.

The modified BAe 146-301 large Atmospheric Research Aircraft (the ARA) takes off

The modified BAe 146-301 large Atmospheric Research Aircraft (the ARA) takes off

Under this programme, the UK’s Atmospheric Research Aircraft (ARA) was brought to India to be used as a research facility for the team of UK and Indian researchers studying atmospheric measurements for better predictability of monsoon patterns between May and July 2016. The ARA is a modified BAe 146-301 and provides a world leading platform for atmospheric measurements. It is managed by the Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM) which is a collaborative operation between NERC, Met Office and is based at Cranfield University. FAAM plans and executes science campaigns on behalf of the both the NERC scientific community and the Met Office. It has completed nearly 1000 science missions in over 30 countries. This is its first mission in India.

Under this partnership, UK and Indian scientists will have access to this state- of -the -art facility that will help gain in-depth knowledge of the South Asian monsoon and their improved representation in weather and climate models. In addition to the FAAM facility, this partnership also used Indian research ships (Sindhu Sadhana) and underwater marine robots to take measurements in the waters of the Bay of Bengal, south east of India.

For me, a personal highlight was when as part of this observational campaign, I boarded this flight on 11th July, along with Dr Harsh Vardhan (Union Minister of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences), Dr Alexander Evans (British Deputy High Commissioner), Dr M. Rajeevan (Secretary to the Government of India, MoES), and researchers involved in the projects. We agreed that this was a unique UK-India research partnership on the monsoon studies, and were absolutely thrilled by the experience.

Gate way to Research – Innovate UK Project Participant values

The most recent Gateway to Research system release publishes the breakdown of Innovate UK’s project participant values. This new information can be found on the Organisation tab of Innovate UK projects only.

Two new columns are being displayed called, ‘Project Cost’ and ‘Grant Offer’. The values being published under these headings are defined as follows:

  • Project Cost: Total Cost of Project including Grant Values and Project Participant Contributions
  • Grant Offer: Total Grant issued to each Project Participant

The API, GtR-2, has been updated to version 4. This now includes the outcome and project participant information.

Researchers can now create or connect their ORCID identifier in the Research Councils’ grants system (Je-S)

By Sarah Townsend, Research Funding Analyst, RCUK Executive Directorate.

An ORCID identifier (ORCID iD) is a unique string of numbers (a digital identifier) that distinguishes you from every other researcher – when a name isn’t enough! Letting researchers create or connect their ORCID iD to our grants system is an important first step towards improving the flow of research information across the higher education sector. ORCID offers a platform for researchers to capture your scholarly activities throughout your careers even if you change name, publish under different variations of your name, move institutions, or switch fields. This helps you get exposure and recognition for your work. Increasingly it will also be a tool to link and re-use research information unambiguously across multiple systems whether that’s for funders, publishers or your university. Initiatives like Crossref’s new auto-update functionality is automating the process, so ultimately this will save everyone time – in particular, researchers – as well as minimizing the risk of errors.

There is no need to wait until you are applying for a new grant to create or connect your iD – we would encourage both current and past award holders to log-in to their Je-S account, which you can do at any time, and add your ORCID iD to your ‘personal information’ page now. New applicants you will also see the option to ‘create or connect your ORCID iD’ when creating a new Je-S account. And don’t worry – if you don’t currently have an ORCID iD, you can also sign up for one from the Je-S system. The basic registration takes about 30 seconds, including adding your ORCID iD to your Je-S account at the same time – and it’s completely free.

Did you know that well over two million researchers worldwide already have an ORCID iD and that many UK universities have now integrated ORCID iDs in their research information systems? In addition, many publishers now require you to include your ORCID iD in new article submissions and several funders now ask for your ORCID iD when you apply for a grant. So now is a great time to sign up to ORCID if you haven’t already done so and connect your ORCID iD to your Je-S account.

“A researcher’s view

“Many journals are already asking authors to include their ORCID iD in new submissions and funders such as Research Councils have also begun to ask researchers to include their ORCID iD when applying for grants. As a researcher there are many benefits to having an ORCID iD. Through my ORCID iD, I can recognise and collate a diverse range of research outputs (e.g. journal publications, datasets, designs, equipment, methods, computer code) which are uniquely identifiable to me. This helps my work be accurately and quickly discovered, increasing its ready availability as a result of the open access systems we use (e.g. NORA). Importantly, this also improves the scientific traceability of my research, linking together different research outputs and datasets when archived in different places. The extent to which my research outputs have been used by other researchers can be more accurately demonstrated using platforms such as ResearchGate and Google Scholar, improving my research profile and helping me better demonstrate the impact of my research activities. An ORCID iD and QR code on business cards is also a quick and easy way for new contacts to readily reach my research profile, promoting collaboration opportunities and new science ideas.”        

 Dr Matthew Horstwood has been working as a researcher for over 18 years and is currently employed at the British Geological Survey. He has been talking to other researchers at BGS about the benefits of ORCID and has used his ORCID profile to capture over 80 works he has authored or contributed to going back as far as 1999, as well as grants he has received and his employment history.

 

On the Road to Chandigarh – RCUK India Impact event

By Dr Nafees Meah, Director RCUK India

Chandigarh, the shared Capital of the States of Punjab and Haryana, is a place that’s unique.  That’s because, very unusually for India, it is a planned city.  It was planned by Le Corbusier, the father of modernism in architecture.  So instead of the hustle and bustle of people, cows, cars, carts, tuk-tuks cramming the streets, you have instead miles and miles of tree lined boulevards and roundabouts – a bit like an Indian Milton Keynes really.   The BBC recently wrote that it might be the most perfect city in the world…

Illustration of the Research Council portfolio in Chandigarh, noting approximate Principal and selected Co-Investigator locations

Illustration of the Research Council portfolio in Chandigarh, noting approximate Principal and selected Co-Investigator locations

However, it is also a hub of research and innovation activity in India with a number of leading institutions of national importance such as Panjab University.  So with the Deputy British High Commission in Chandigarh, we recently held an event to show case the impact of RCUK-India research and innovation partnership as part of series of these kinds of events in India.  The aim was to engage with a wider group of people than we normally do and talk about our successful and burgeoning partnership and to build new networks at the State level.  It is important that we do this, not least as we are seeing in India a new partnership being established between the Centre and the States – termed Cooperative Federalism   – with more money and power being devolved to the States.

We had a full house at the event with a good mix of policy makers, academics, journalists, lawyers etc.  I think it reflected the great connection between the people of Punjab and Haryana with the UK.  The Panel, as well as myself, consisted of the Deputy High Commissioner, David Lelliott, Vivek Atray, Director of Industries and Commerce, Government of Punjab and Gokul Butail,  IT advisor to the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh. The Q&A session was particularly lively with plenty of questions about developing closer links at the State level.

From this event, and others like it, there is clearly a huge appetite in India for enhancing the collaboration on research and innovation with the UK on issues that are really important such as urbanisation, water and energy security, and health and well being.  I think that we are getting our message across that the UK is the best place to do research in the world.

Gateway to Research Individual Outcome Search functionality

It is now possible to search for individual outcome information within Gateway to Research via the main search field on the homepage. This will return a list of single outcome results on a page similar to the existing tabs i.e. Projects, Publications, People and Organisations. So when a keyword is entered into the search field, the results page will now include a new tab called ‘Outcomes’ after the ‘Organisations’ tab. This will show the number of occurrences of the respective keyword/s which a user has typed in across the system.

Similar to other pages in Gateway to Research, the result page can be refined using the list of options available down the right hand side of the page. Clicking on the ‘Outcomes’ tab will return the user to their previous filter setting again similar to other pages.

The new page will display the outcome type, the attributing project title, the funder, the attributing project abstract and the information submitted in Researchfish.

The search result displays instances of the keyword that has occurred within a set number of default and non-default fields.

It is not yet possible to download the individual outcomes information a CSV document, this capability will be delivered at a later date. However Outcome information is available within the APIs.

City of Nawabs or Hub of Hi Tech Science- RCUK India Impact event in Hyderabad

By Dr Monika Sharma, Newton Fund Delivery Programme Manager.

Recently the RCUK India team landed in the city of Hyderabad, in Southern India, to showcase to the city the strong UK India research and innovations links.

Illustration of the Research Council portfolio in Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh and Telangana), noting approximate Principal and selected Co-Investigator locations

Illustration of the Research Council portfolio in Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh and Telangana), noting approximate Principal and selected Co-Investigator locations

Hyderabad is home to 13 Universities, lots of research centres specialising in the field of biomedical sciences, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals such as the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research and National Institute of Nutrition. The city hosts prestigious institutes like the Indian School of BusinessInternational Institute of Information Technology, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, and research  institutes carrying multidisciplinary research such as Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, National Geophysical Research Institute, Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture, and Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics.

There is a big hub of scientific, pharmaceutical and business community based in the city with strong links to British universities, consultancies or business tie-ups. RCUK India have many projects co- funded with the Indian government worth millions of rupees with researchers based at the University of Hyderabad, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Nonferrous Materials Technology Development Centre, Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, L V Prasad Eye Institute. These research projects have not only made international publications but also success stories with Impact.

We hosted in partnership with Andrew McAllister, Deputy High Commissioner Hyderabad an event where we celebrated the IMPACT of the UK-India research partnerships in presence of scientists, young researchers, senior academics, journalists, and senior policy makers.

Hyderabadblog2Dr Nafees Meah, Director RCUK reiterated to the audience that UK is the best place for research with top class research facilities and also UK is among one of the top counties for doing business and developing innovative technologies to address the global challenges.

We were pleased to hear the views of our chief guest, Dr Narsaiah Goud, MP Telangana state where he highlighted the potential of Hyderabad for research collaborations, as a business hub and his desire for new innovations in a plethora of research areas.

While we were winding up our very successful visit by savouring traditional Irani “chai” with Osmania biscuits in one of the cafes opposite to Charminar, it was a delight to see the way the landscape of the city has flourished amidst the iconic rocky landscapes: the imposing sophisticated HITEC City on one side, and, the historic and vibrant old city of the royal Nizams on the other.

Visit to Tagore’s Shantiniketan

By Geeny George Shaju, Communications and Programme Manager, RCUK India.

Team from IIT-M, explaining the project

Team from IIT-M, explaining the project

Soon after the RCUK Impact event in Kolkata, I along with Dr Nafees Meah, Director RCUK India travelled to Visva-Bharati University, Shantiniketan to attend the final review meeting for an UK-India research project – Biomass and Concentrating Photovoltaic System for Rural and Urban Energy Bridge. Read more

Beginning in 2011, this four year project is part of the UK-India Bridging the Urban-Rural Divide (BURD) programme, funded by the RCUK Energy and Digital Economy programmes, and by the Indian Department of Science and Technology (DST).

University of Nottingham, University of Exeter and University of Leeds are the leading UK collaborators, and on the Indian side led by Visva-Bharati University and Indian Institute of Technology – Madras and Bombay.

The aim of the project was to develop new sustainable hybrid energy systems, integrating photovoltaic technology into biomass and waste power generations to create a low cost power system that could be managed and maintained by rural communities.

Group photo of researchers, students and funders

Group photo of researchers, students and funders

On arrival we were taken to the project site, which is a place close to the university campus and a Santhal (tribal village), with over 80 households. Researchers and students working on this project explained the functionality of the project and how the BioCPV was providing electricity to the village community.

After the site visit, research teams and funders congregated to develop a deeper understanding of the impact of this project. A key outcome of this joint project has been to provide reliable electricity to the rural households, school, community and even the local medical centre. This has enabled improved facilities for education and health, an improved lifestyle and a reduction in greenhouse emission, improving overall sustainability within the village.

MoU being handed over

MoU being handed over

The highlight of the meeting was handing over of the management of the BioCPV to the village community through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This agreement is very important as it gives the community ownership and empowers them for a better tomorrow. It also demonstrates that new sustainable technologies can be designed to be accessible and maintainable by local communities, something which is incredibly important for ‘off grid’ settlements.

Tagore’s Shantiniketan, (which means ‘abode of peace’) is known as a centre of knowledge and creativity. This visit was a perfect illustration of joint knowledge, creativity and more.

See more pictures from the visit here.

RCUK India ‘Impact’ event in the City of Joy – Kolkata

By Geeny George Shaju, RCUK India Communications and Programme Manager.

RCUK India hosted a series of research and innovation roadshows across several research intensive cities in India, one of them in Kolkata, West Bengal.

(L-R): Sukanya Kumar-Sinha; Geeny George Shaju; Dr Nafees Meah from RCUK India, Mr Scott Furssedonn-Wood, British Deputy High Commission; Ms Reena Venkatraman Additional Chief Secretary DST; Mr Aloke Mookherjea Chairman Innovation Taskforce CII (EA) and Prof Anuradha Lohia VC Presidency University

Attendees at the impact event.

Kolkata is one of the four metropolitan cities in India, and the only one that I had not visited, so I was all zest up for this. Coincidentally the entire city of Kolkata was also excited, oh not for the event (so I wish) but for a WT20 cricket match between India and Pakistan also in Kolkata.

The impact event was organised in partnership with the British Deputy High Commission, Kolkata, with an aim to showcase the UK-India research partnership and its impact. Kolkata has many top universities, research and engineering institutes, and there are five existing UK-India research projects running in West Bengal. This event was step forward to tell people about our research partnerships and build new networks at the state level.

There was an excellent attendance by academics, senior policy makers, industrial leads, local press. Key panel members at the event were Mr Scott Furssedonn-Wood, British Deputy High Commissioner, Kolkata; Ms Reena Venkatraman, Additional Chief Secretary DST; Mr Aloke Mookherjea, Chairman Innovation Taskforce CII (EA) and Prof Anuradha Lohia, Vice-Chancellor Presidency University.

Each of the panel members shared their views on international research, and how it is best delivered when in partnership. Prof Lohia, emphasised the need to incorporate multi-disciplinary approach and enhance funding to research in humanities and social sciences.

Famous (Hindustan Ambassador taxis in its bright yellow

Famous (Hindustan Ambassador) taxis in its bright yellow

The city of Kolkata is well known for its quest for knowledge and passion for learning. Panel members and guests were overwhelmed by the areas of research covered by the UK-India partnership, how it is striving to INSPIRE CHANGE. I was delighted that the event was a success and my first visit wants me to come back soon to this amazing city. And joining my happiness was the entire city, celebrating India’s win in the cricket match!