India and United Kingdom will together jointly create India-UK "NET Zero" Innovation Virtual Centre, union minister of state for science and technology; MoS for earth sciences; MoS PMO, personnel, public grievances, pensions, atomic energy and space, Dr Jitendra Singh said while chairing the India-UK Science & Innovation Council meeting.
The meeting is co-chaired by his British counterpart, UK minister George Freeman. The two leaders called for enhanced Science & Technology cooperation between India and the United Kingdom.
Singh said that under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is fast moving to become an economic powerhouse, driven by its extraordinary technological and innovative capabilities which the whole world has begun to acknowledge, particularly after the Covid vaccine success story.
The minister, in his inaugural remarks, said that India is on the fast track move and the nation is determined to achieve its Climate Change and Environmental targets on time.
Jitendra Singh highlighted the close collaboration between the two countries strengthened through an ambitious ‘Roadmap 2030’ that provides a framework for UK-India relations across health, climate, trade, education, science and technology, and defence.
The minister informed his British counterpart that under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the UK has emerged as India’s second largest international research and innovation partner. The India-UK Science and Technology (S&T) collaboration has been growing at a rapid pace and the joint research programme has gone from an almost zero base to close to £300-400 million now, he said.
Both the ministers appreciated the proposal to create an India-UK "NET Zero" Innovation Virtual Centre which will provide a platform to bring stakeholders from both countries together to work in some of the focus areas, including decarbonisation of manufacturing process and transport systems and Green Hydrogen as renewable source. Dwelling on the issue of India’s net zero journey, Jitendra Singh said, energy efficiency and renewable energy are central pillars, where India has already taken lead by various initiatives like India Solar Alliance, Clean energy mission etc.
He said that during the last 75 years, India has gone through an evolutionary journey that helped us to carve an economic and political identity amidst the global nations. Today when India is celebrating the 75th year of its Independence, the roadmap for the next 25 years for India @100, will be determined by scientific and technological innovations in all walks of life, he said.
The union minister said that the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to reinforce cooperation, as it has once again reminded us that we all live on one planet. He said that he hoped the India-UK MoU will provide a great mechanism to support research and innovation in both countries for long-term sustainable growth through expanding and maximising cooperation in areas of mutual interest.
Dr Singh said that the multidimensional, multi-institutional, multi-agency cooperation covers energy security, food and agriculture, water, climate change, environmental studies as well as social and cultural changes that are taking place in both countries. He recalled that during the last India UK virtual summit held during May 2021, prime ministers from both countries emphasised their shared commitment to an enhanced partnership in science, education, research and innovation while looking forward to the next ministerial Science and Innovation Council (SIC).
Dr Singh said that in the recent past, the Indian government has launched several flagship initiatives such as the National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber Physical Systems (ICPS); Quantum Computing and Communication; National Mission on Supercomputing, Electric Mobility, Green hydrogen etc, which provides newer opportunities for collaboration.
He mentioned that India is committed towards the environmental goals which include consistent efforts towards development of mitigation and monitoring solutions for environmental pollution and techno based pathways for reducing the carbon emissions and achieve the ambitious net zero targets.
Talking about the importance of industry-academia collaboration for economic growth and development, the union minister said that the revival of DST Innovate UK Industrial R & D programme will provide opportunity to Indian and UK academia and industry for developing newer products/process together for economic growth of both nations.
Dr Jitendra Singh expressed satisfaction on the MOES-NEKTON joint research programme towards exploration and conservation of marine biodiversity under Deep Ocean Mission in India as well as the MOES and UK Met Office collaboration in weather and climate science, which aims to undertake joint research on natural hazards in South Asian Monsoon system, improve the modelling capabilities at different scales and improve tools and techniques for risk based (ensemble) forecasting of natural hazards at a range of prediction timescales up to a season.
Both the leaders called for newer collaborations for joint R & D projects between BBSRC- DBT in the area of Farmed Animal disease and Health & MOES-NERC Call in the area of Solid Earth hazards.
Inviting minister Freeman for the G20 Research Ministers meeting at Mumbai on 6 July 2023, Dr Jitendra Singh said that India is holding G20 Presidency this year and organising a number of meetings in scientific tracks, including Science 20 (S20), Research and Innovation (RIIG) and Scientific Advisers meetings and urged the scientific community of both countries to participate in the meetings.
The two ministers also reviewed bilateral S&T cooperation between the two countries and expressed satisfaction on progress made since the last SIC meeting held in New Delhi.