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UK-India research partnerships announced worth £20 million to tackle major challenges in food security


A £20 million UK-India fund is now available to support research that addresses critical food security challenges. The fund was announced earlier this month by Jo Johnson MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science during his visit to India.

Four Virtual Joint Centres in Agricultural Nitrogen will be established between leading UK and Indian researchers to deliver innovative research over the next three years, which will contribute to the sustainable use of nitrogen fertiliser in Indian agriculture. This represents a £10 million investment from the Newton-Bhabha fund, delivered in partnership by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Department of Biotechnology India (DBT). This collaboration will help meet the challenge of sustainably producing enough food for a growing population whilst reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

The UK-India Virtual Joint Centres in Agricultural Nitrogen are:

  • India-UK Nitrogen Fixation Centre (IUNFC)
  • Newton-Bhabha Virtual Centre on Nitrogen Efficiency of Whole-cropping Systems for improved performance and resilience in agriculture (NEWS India-UK)
  • Cambridge-India Network for Translational Research in Nitrogen
  • Indo-UK Centre for the improvement of Nitrogen use Efficiency in Wheat (INEW)

The Minister also announced a £10 million UK-India Research and Innovation Bridge programme in Agri-food, funded by Innovate UK, RCUK and DBT, which will bring together academia and industry to tackle key challenges existing at the post-harvest stage in India’s agri-food sector, that impact on food security, and are limiting the country’s ability to maintain a healthy, fast growing population. The competition is now open for applications and closes on 27 January 2016.

The announcements were made in the Minister’s speech to senior representatives from the UK and Indian science and innovation arena at a showcase event held on Thursday 10th December at the at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, hosted by Research Councils UK (RCUK) India in partnership with the UK’s Science and Innovation Network (SIN). The event demonstrated how the UK-India research partnership has delivered impact.

Professor Jane Elliott, RCUK International Champion and Chief Executive of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), added: “These investments further strengthen collaborative research between the UK and India based on equal partnership to deliver excellence with impact. They also form part of a wider strategic partnership between DBT and the UK Research Councils.”

The value of joint investment in UK-India research has grown from less than a million in 2008 to now over £200 million, demonstrating the Research Councils’ commitment to working towards the goal of making the UK India’s partner of choice for research collaboration.

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Further information

Katie Clark
Tel: 01793 444387 or email: Katie Clark

Notes to editors

  1. The event was hosted by RCUK India at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore in partnership with the UK’s Science and Innovation Network (SIN). The event brought together senior representatives from the UK and Indian science and innovation arena, including several vice chancellors from the UK universities who were part of the Ministerial delegation to India. Professor Calie Pistorius and Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, the Vice Chancellors of the universities of Hull and Manchester respectively, along with Professor Anurag Kumar, Director of IISc and other senior representatives from IISc shared their vision for the future direction of the UK-India partnership in research and innovation, and concluded that there was a great opportunity to develop a strategic relationship between the two countries.

  2. The event also saw the launch of a report from RCUK India, Shaping the Future – Assessing the impact of the RCUK-India research and innovation partnership. The analysis shows that the partnership is developing a substantial cohort of UK and Indian researchers, at all levels, who are addressing global challenges such as food, water and energy security and climate change.

  3. Research Councils UK (RCUK) India, launched in 2008, brings together the best researchers in the UK and India through high-quality, high-impact research partnerships. RCUK India, based at the British High Commission in New Delhi, has facilitated co-funded initiatives between the UK, India and third parties exceeding £200 million. The research collaborations are often closely linked with UK and Indian industry partners, with more than 90 partners involved in the research. RCUK India is actively involved in co-funded research activities with seven major Indian research funders on a wide array of research themes addressing global challenges.

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