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Largest India-UK ICT research collaboration gets £10 million funding boost that could benefit millions

Issue date:
18 April 2012
Press release 
Digital economy, ICT

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 and 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.

Contact details:

Notes to editors:

Next Generation Networks (NGN) is a term used to describe key architectural evolutions in telecommunication core and access networks. The idea behind NGN is that one network transports all information and services, including voice, data and media such as video, by gathering these into packets, similar to those used on the internet.

The India-UK Advanced Technology Centre (IU-ATC) initiative was established in direct response to an invitation from both governments to help cement research collaboration and technology transfer between India and the UK. The IU-ATC is the largest initiative of its kind between both countries in the ICT sector with approximately 200 scientists involved in the research programme.

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.

Department of Science and Technology (DST), India

The Department of Science and Technology plays a pivotal role in the promotion of science and technology in the country. The department has wide-ranging activities ranging from promoting high end basic research and development of cutting-edge technologies to servicing the technological requirements of the general population through the development of appropriate skills and technologies.

RCUK India

RCUK India was established in 2008 with an aim to bring about a step change in research partnerships between the two countries and make it easier for the best researchers in the UK and India to develop high-quality, high impact research partnerships.

Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK's seven Research Councils who annually invest around £3 billion in research. We support excellent research, as judged by peer review, that has an impact on the growth, prosperity and wellbeing of the UK. To maintain the UK’s global research position we offer a diverse range of funding opportunities, foster international collaborations and provide access to the best facilities and infrastructure around the world. We also support the training and career development of researchers and work with them to inspire young people and engage the wider public with research. To maximise the impact of research on economic growth and societal wellbeing we work in partnership with other research funders including the Technology Strategy Board, the UK Higher Education Funding Councils, business, government, and charitable organisations.

The seven UK Research Councils are:

Useful links:

Reference: PN 29/12