At a meeting of the UK-India Ministerial Science and Innovation Council (SIC) today, UK Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts has revealed a £10m funding injection to boost the largest ever ICT research collaboration between the UK and India. The announcement comes after Mr Willetts's meeting in London with India's Minister for Science and Technology, Vilasrao Deshmukh.
The India-UK Advanced Technology Centre (IU-ATC) receives funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Government of India's Department of Science and Technology (DST), as well as from partners in industry. The IU-ATC's research programme is aimed at finding ICT solutions to benefit users on a large scale and at supporting the digital economy in both countries.
A key part of the centre's work is to develop next-generation telecommunications networks, but the funding will also support the IU-ATC in the search for low-cost solutions to widening rural broadband access and improving the way the available spectrum is used.
The joint initiative is led by a UK consortium of nine universities, headed by the University of Ulster, along with the University of Surrey, Lancaster University, the University of Cambridge, Southampton University, the University of St Andrews, University College London, the University of Bristol, and Queen Mary, University of London. On the Indian side, IIT Madras is spearheading the programme, alongside six other Institutes of Technology (IITs): IIT Delhi, IIT Mumbai, IIT Mandi, IIT Kanpur, IIT Hyderabad, and IISc Bangalore.
With its combined expertise, the IU-ATC will continue to work towards developing new technologies, including rural health monitoring, virtual classrooms, emergency communications and disaster response applications.
"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," said Dr Liam Blackwell, Head of EPSRC's ICT Theme. The first phase of the initiative began in 2009, and the funding announced today will hopefully ensure the continuation of a productive collaboration.
"India and the UK are accomplishing excellent work together in the ICT sector," enthused Dr T Ramasami, Secretary of DST and the Chair of the Joint UK-India Panel. "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."