India, France sign MoU to set up Marine Biology Institute

India and France have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for establishing a Marine Biology Institute for research in frontier technologies over the next five years. The MoU was signed on Saturday during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to France.

Under the MoU, India's department of biotechnology would join hands with the Université Pierre Et Marie Curie (UPMC) and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France's National Centre for Scientific Research- CNRS) to set up a National Institute of Marine Biology and Biotechnology in India.

As per the MoU, France would contribute expertise in developing high standard marine stations for collaborative research programmes, train manpower, facilitate setting up efficient research infrastructure, facilities and technologies.

India would pool in interest and proficiency in cell and molecular biology and biotechnology, a release by the ministry of science and technology said on Sunday.

The collaborative research programme will provide Indian researchers access to the French marine stations with extraordinary technical capabilities.

The Institute will carry out fundamental science research with a multidisciplinary approach and will collaboratively address the most important topics in marine biology and marine biotechnology.

India's several marine zones offer immense resources which can be tapped for biology and biotechnology research. Molecules and bio-materials discovered from marine sources have numerous applications, but most of the resources remain poorly charted and relatively untouched. India has a handful of talented biologists, who can rapidly chart our marine and island diversity, make discoveries and apply them to human and animal welfare. They can be potential leaders in this venture, the release added.

''The charting of our island diversity will soon be accomplished in collaboration with Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) and the deep sea exploration will be done in collaboration with the ministry of earth sciences, it added.

This collaboration will help address the challenge by upgrading human resources, boosting capacity and making available sophisticated technology needed to explore high-speed and high-quality ocean- and island-biology at the highest international level.

The French have a chain of the world's best marine stations (Roskoff, Banyuls and Villefranche) and these are linked to other European marine stations. Harnessing the expertise they have developed in the area can help speed up the process which would take years to develop independently.

The collaboration will help set up a high-tech hub and two major 'spokes' in mainland India. These centres will train a new generation of marine biologists and bio-technologists in the use of the best scientific methods and techniques. In parallel, India will develop its own marine stations while learning from this collaborative hub. India will set up smaller stations in chosen locations - from the Andamans to Kutch and Lakshadweep - in order to give a boost to the country's own programmes.