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Rita Sharma

Rita Sharma

Head of Newton Fund in India

Part of Global Science and Innovation Network

11th April 2014 New Delhi, India

UK-India research & innovation partnership set to grow

Recently in Brazil, the UK Chancellor announced a new £375m fund, known as the Newton Fund, to promote economic development though science and innovation. This is intended improve the science and research capabilities of emerging powers and strengthen their ties with Britain. We asked Geeny George, Communications Manager for Research Councils UK (RCUK) India, to explain what this means for India and how it fits into our ongoing relationship.

As a Communications Manager at RCUK India, one event or rather I should say ‘one November’ that I’ll always remember is November 2013 – where RCUK India marked its 5 successful years of research partnership with India. (See Celebrating Collaboration – an RCUK India film on the event). You can read about the areas we explored for future collaboration on our website.

Sir Mark Walport and Dr T Ramasami at the UK-India Science and Innovation Policy Dialogue, November 2013
Sir Mark Walport and Dr T Ramasami at the UK-India Science and Innovation Policy Dialogue, November 2013

At the event, the UK Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Mark Walport and Secretary of India’s Department for Science and Technology, Dr T Ramasami, co-chaired the UK-India Science and Innovation Policy Dialogue in New Delhi, and it was agreed that the UK-India research partnership has achieved a lot over the past 5 years and the next level of this collaboration calls for demonstrating greater impact.

It was agreed that a UK-India Task Force should be set up to identify potential grand challenges for UK and India to address through joint research and innovation. There is always more to do!

By December 2013, Delhi had wrapped up its celebratory events, but we haven’t been resting on our laurels since. Recently, the UK Chancellor announced the creation of the Newton Fund: a new Research and Innovation Fund of £375 million over 5 years to promote science and innovation partnership with key international partners, including India. More information is available here.

The Newton fund should augment the existing research collaboration with India to jointly deliver innovative solutions to global development challenges. The UK-India Task Force was delegated to identify potential challenges that reflect the UK and India’s shared priorities, and which could be taken forward through the new Newton Fund, and other existing UK-India collaboration mechanisms.

The Task Force held its first meeting in February in New Delhi, and was co-chaired by Professor Paul Boyle, Chief Executive ESRC and RCUK International Champion, and Professor TK Chandrashekar, Secretary of the National Science and Engineering Board.

Key research and innovation funders, and senior decision makers from both countries, attended the meeting and represented a wide spectrum of interests from knowledge to delivery on diverse themes. The Task Force identified three grand societal challenges;

  1. Sustainable Cities and Urbanisation
  2. Public Health and Well Being
  3. Energy-Water-Food Nexus

The following two underpinning capabilities were also identified:

  1. High Value Manufacturing
  2. Big Data

It was agreed that the global societal challenges will be built on three pillars

  1. People (capacity building)
  2. Programmes (joint research)
  3. Translation (innovation)

The Task Force will reconvene for autumn 2014 to review progress and to present their conclusions  for the next Ministerial Science and Innovation Council Meeting. The Newton Fund yet again echoes the benefit of research and the value of equal partnership between the UK and India. Exciting times ahead! Please get in touch if you want to know more.

11 comments on “UK-India research & innovation partnership set to grow

  1. Dear Madam’
    Good Morning.
    I am writing from Research & Analysis Consultants, Bhubaneswar, Odisha. We are in the field of Social Research since 1995 in collaboration with different Government and Private sector agencies. Presently we are looking forward to have a collaboration with your esteemed concern in any social research programme.
    Thus, if the request is relevant pl. do respond.
    Thanking you,
    with regards
    Dr.SR Mania

  2. Hi,

    I’m currently a Marie Curie Fellow, working with The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI-India) and consider this Newton-Bhabha initiative very timely for extending the Research and Innovation elements of our ongoing collaboration. In this regard I did an initial search and so far couldn’t locate a dedicated webpage for this grant call so look forward to hear in reply on the url, etc.


    1. Dear Abhi,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We’re not quite at the stage of new calls being announced yet through this initiative. However, if you keep checking back to this blog, we will let you know as soon as they’re ready. Alternatively, if you subscribe to our newsletter (link on the right hand side of this blog) we’ll send you a monthly summary of the latest news and any new funding opportunities we know about.

      Best wishes,


Comments are closed.

About Rita Sharma

Dr Rita Sharma is the Head of Newton Fund in India. The Newton Fund aims to promote the economic development and social welfare through strengthening science and innovation capacity and…

Dr Rita Sharma is the Head of Newton Fund in India. The Newton Fund aims to promote the economic development and social welfare through strengthening science and innovation capacity and unlocking further funding to support this work. The Vision of the Fund is to build a stronger, sustainable and systemic relationships with India through jointly funded research and innovation. Rita’s key role is to work with all the Newton Delivery Partners to ensure a holistic science and innovation partnership between the UK and India. Prior to taking up this position, Rita was working as the Senior Science and Innovation Adviser leading on Science Policy, Energy, Climate Change, Water and Environmental Sciences. In this capacity, her work ranged from brokering research collaborations between the UK and Indian researchers to assisting in utilisation of best available science to influence effective policy making. Rita has significant experience of working with UK and Indian government, academic and industrial partners to deliver multi-million programmes. In the past she has worked in Research Councils UK's India office as their Deputy Director and UKaid’s South Asia Research Hub as their Research Adviser. Rita has a Bachelor’s degree in Botany, Masters in Anthropology and completed her PhD in Cell Biology from Germany.

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