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Largest India-UK ICT research collaboration attracts over £10 million in funding to develop technologies that could benefit millions
18 April 2012
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
A £10 million boost for the largest India-UK ICT research collaboration, which employs 200 scientists in both countries, will be announced today by the UK’s Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts, during a meeting with Indian Science and Technology Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh in London.
The investment will support the second phase of research into next generation Telecommunications networks - state-of-the-art platforms and applications that will carry voice, video and data in the future Internet. This is a key part of the work of the India-UK Advanced Technology Centre (IU-ATC), a collaborative programme funded by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Government of India’s Department of Science & Technology (DST) and industrial partners in both countries.
The funding will allow the Centre to focus its efforts to develop low-cost solutions for rural access to broadband, improved use of available spectrum as well as applications for rural health monitoring, emergency and disaster communications, social TV-Virtual Classrooms and other services. The ultimate aim of the IU-ATC is to develop solutions that can scale to benefit the lives of millions of users as well as the Digital Economy in both the UK and India.
Speaking at the meeting of the India-UK Ministerial Science and Innovation Council, Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts will say: “This £10 million investment will build on the UK’s excellent record of research collaboration with India. It will bring together leading universities and institutes from both countries to develop technological solutions to a range of important issues, from rural health to disaster response.”
This funding decision follows a joint panel meeting of UK and Indian scientific experts, coordinated by Research Councils UK (RCUK) India, a representative office for EPSRC in India. On behalf of EPSRC, RCUK India has been working with DST, since the start of the first phase of this project in 2009.
Dr Liam Blackwell, Head of EPSRC’s ICT Theme said: “This next phase of the India-UK Advanced Technology Centre project is expected to contribute to leading edge international collaboration in ICT research which will benefit both countries and develop their capabilities.”
Dr T Ramasami, Secretary of DST and the Chair of the Joint UK-India Panel commented: “India and the UK are accomplishing excellent work together in the ICT sector. Our research is on developing applications that would improve the quality of millions of lives and enable social and economic inclusion within India and the UK, both in rural and urban areas.”
Leading this major joint research initiative are the University of Ulster’s Chair in Telecommunications Engineering, Professor Gerard Parr in Northern Ireland and Professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras.
Welcoming the funding success Professor Parr said: “I am delighted that EPSRC and DST have given our team the opportunity to further develop our plans and focus our efforts in order to derive maximum impact and benefit from our research activities. We intend to work closely with our funders and industry to ensure we fully exploit the promise of technological advances in Next Generation Networks.”
The University of Ulster is the lead UK institution in a consortium of nine research-leading UK universities including the University of Surrey, Lancaster University, Queen Mary, University of London, Southampton University, University of St Andrews, University College London, University of Bristol, and the University of Cambridge.
They are joined by seven Institutes of Technology (IITs) in India: IIT Madras (Lead), IIT Delhi, IIT Mumbai, IIT Mandi, IIT Kanpur, IIT Hyderabad, and IISc Bangalore.
The three high level research activity areas within the IU-ATC are:-
- Applications and Services
- Core Network Systems and Protocols
- Heterogeneous Wireless Access Networks
Each research area has a UK-India Chief Monitor that reports to an Executive Board.
Additionally, a group of major ICT companies in both countries will collaborate with the consortium on the research agenda.
Lead UK industrial partner, BT Innovate and Design, is joined by Toshiba Research Laboratories Europe. In India there is direct engagement from companies such as Infosys, Wipro and Sasken together with SMEs.
Phase one of this initiative started in June 2009 with funding from EPSRC-DST of £5 million and co-funding of £4.2 million from industry and academic partners in both countries.
During this phase methods and templates for collaboration governance agreements and Intellectual Property Rights management frameworks have been adopted by EPSRC, the British Council and the Intellectual Property Office of the UK Government.
Significant outputs have already been generated by the team in terms of scientific publications, technology demonstrators and patents.