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India, UK Create Net Zero Innovation Virtual Centre

India and the United Kingdom have made plans to create the India-UK NET Zero Innovation Virtual Centre. The centre will provide a platform to bring stakeholders from both countries together to work on industrial decarbonisation and launch the first-ever UK-India scientific deep sea voyage.

The centre is one of the programmes under an agreement signed by the Indian Minister of Science and Technology, Jitendra Singh, and the UK Minister of State for Science, Research, and Innovation, George Freeman. According to Freeman, India is leveraging its exceptional software and innovation industries to swiftly emerge as a dominant force in science and technology at a global level.

The agreement will remove red tape standing in the way of major collaborations and initiate a variety of novel collaborative research programmes focused on tackling some of the world’s most pressing challenges such as climate change and pandemic readiness, utilising technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

With extensive trading and cultural links, shared democratic values, and interest in urgent global issues from green technology and agri-tech to biosecurity and pandemic preparedness, the two sides have very strong platforms for deepening research collaboration, a press release from the UK Department for Science, Innovation and Technology said.

Singh highlighted the close collaboration between the two countries, which has been strengthened through the Roadmap 2030, serving as a blueprint for UK-India relations spanning various sectors including health, climate, trade, education, science, technology, and defence.

The UK is India’s second-largest international research and innovation partner. The India-UK Science and Technology (S&T) collaboration has been growing at a rapid pace and the joint research programme has gone from an almost zero base to close to US$ 375-500 million.

During the event, Singh discussed India’s path to achieving net-zero emissions, with energy efficiency and renewable energy being integral components. India has taken the lead in this endeavour through various initiatives such as the India Solar Alliance and the Clean Energy Mission. He said that he hoped the agreement would serve as an excellent mechanism to foster research and innovation in both nations for long-term sustainable growth through expanding and maximising cooperation in areas of mutual interest.

This multidimensional, multi-institutional, and multi-agency collaboration encompasses several crucial areas, including energy security, food and agriculture, water management, climate change, and social and environmental research. Singh noted that during the last virtual India-UK summit held in 2021, the Prime Ministers of both countries underscored their shared dedication to strengthening their partnership in science, education, and research and innovation.

He highlighted several government initiatives like the National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber Physical Systems (ICPS), Quantum Computing and Communication, the National Mission on Supercomputing, and electric mobility projects, which offer opportunities for collaboration.

India remains committed to its environmental goals, which include persistent efforts towards the development of mitigation and monitoring solutions for environmental pollution, the implementation of technology-based pathways to reduce carbon emissions and achieving net-zero targets.

The country is working with several countries in similar fields of research. Earlier this month, the government announced plans to deepen bilateral cooperation with the United States in clean energy, biotechnology, geosciences, and astrophysics. They also agreed to collaborate on artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, cybersecurity, and semiconductors.

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