UK-India research gets bigger and better, with joint investment at more than £200 million

13 November 2015

The value of investment in UK-India research from the UK research councils, the government of India, and third parties now exceeds £200 million, following a joint £72 million boost to the portfolio during 2015.

Indian rickshaw in flooded street

Monsoon flooding in India

As the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits the UK for the first time this week, a number of bilateral programmes have been agreed to strengthen the growing research and innovation partnership between the two countries, benefiting both nations by addressing grand societal challenges - such as food, energy and water security; health and well-being; smart cities and rapid urbanisation - and increasing access to expertise, resources and facilities.

Details of a number of funded projects for UK-India research programmes have been announced today, 13 November 2015, which are funded in part through the Newton Fund. The Newton-Bhabha Fund is enabling the research councils to develop a sustainable long-term partnership with India.

The UK's minister for universities & science, Jo Johnson, said:

"The research partnership between the UK and India has gone from strength to strength in recent years as we have worked together to address some of the world's major challenges. From securing a sustainable water supply to providing clean energy, this research is advancing scientific capabilities in both countries and helping to improve the lives of millions around the world."

The Indian minister of state for science & technology and Earth sciences, Shri Y S Chowdary, said:

"The UK and India science and research collaboration has steadily increased, with the best of the research communities and facilities strengthening their cooperation. This strong UK-India research relationship helps address contemporary issues of both nations and the world at large from multiple perspectives."

NERC's UK-India partnerships currently in progress include:

  • NERC-MoES South Asian monsoon programme - the 2016 observational campaign in India (non Newton programme). Hundreds of millions of Indian farmers totally depend on the monsoon for their livelihoods. NERC's Atmospheric Research Aircraft (ARA) provides a world leading platform for atmospheric measurements. The aircraft campaign in India, scheduled from mid-May to mid-July 2016, and will be undertaken as part of India's Monsoon Mission to improve prediction of the monsoon from short range to seasonal timescales, and is one of the most ambitious campaigns that the ARA has undertaken and will be the first time the aircraft has undertaken science in India.

  • BBSRC-NERC-DBT Joint Virtual Centres on Agricultural Nitrogen - external link - £3·5 million from the UK with matched resources from the Department for Biotechnology (DBT) in India. Intensive use of nitrogen fertilisers and development of new crop varieties in the 1960s enabled the Green Revolution that has fed billions of people on the planet. However, in some countries, overuse of fertilisers is now causing very severe environmental problems. The centres will enable crop production to be enhanced in ways that make appropriate use of fertilisers to optimise yields, while maintaining the quality of soil, water and air, and reducing adverse impacts on ecosystems. The centres will commence activities in the new year.

As part of the UK-India Ganga Partnership:

  • NERC and the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) Joint Virtual Centre on Water Security - £150,000 from the UK with matched resources from India. Water security is one of the biggest challenges facing India, with climate change, population growth, land-use change and urbanisation all increasing pressure on water resources in India's river basins, particularly the Ganga. This centre will develop the sustained, interdisciplinary UK-India research and innovation partnerships needed to help us understand the water cycle in India and will facilitate dialogue between researchers, innovators, policymakers, business and local communities to enable solutions to be developed together.

  • NERC-MoES call, supported by the Newton-Bhabha Fund, for a research programme on Sustainable Water Resources for Food, Energy & Ecosystem Services - a combined investment of £6 million. This programme will use a 'whole systems' approach to develop models which can forecast future trends and the impact of climate change, land-use change, population growth and urbanisation on water resources. It will support the delivery of the government of India's aim of sustainably managing water resources and rejuvenating rivers, including the National Mission for Clean Ganga's aim of ensuring continuous and unpolluted flow of water in the Ganga basin. Awards will be announced in the new year, with grants to commence from April 2016.

  • NERC-MoES-MRC-DBT call for a research programme on Atmospheric Pollution & Human Health in an Indian Megacity - £6·5 million from the UK and matched resources from India. Pollution in Indian cities is a rapidly increasing problem, with major impacts on the economy and health of the population. This programme will provide new knowledge on air pollution and its impacts on health in a rapidly urbanising society and generate the evidence to support cost-effective measures for health improvements related to atmospheric pollution in Delhi, India.

Further information

Tamera Jones
NERC media office
01793 411561
07917 557215


1. These programmes are funded in part through the Newton Fund - a £375 million fund (£75 million a year for five years) which, through science and innovation partnerships, aims to promote economic development and welfare in developing countries. The fund is overseen by the Department for Businesses Innovation & Skills (BIS) and delivered through 15 delivery partners in collaboration with 15 partnering countries.

2. Research Councils UK (RCUK) India, launched in 2008, brings together the best researchers in the UK and India through high-quality, high-impact research partnerships. RCUK India, based at the British High Commission in New Delhi, has facilitated co-funded initiatives between the UK, India and third parties exceeding £200 million. The research collaborations are often closely linked with UK and Indian industry partners, with more than 90 partners involved in the research. RCUK India is actively involved in co-funded research activities with seven major Indian research funders on a wide array of research themes addressing global challenges.

3. Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK's seven research councils. Our collective ambition is to ensure the UK remains the best place in the world to do research, innovate and grow business. The research councils are central to delivering research and innovation for economic growth and societal impact. Together, we invest £3 billion in research each year, covering all disciplines and sectors, to meet tomorrow's challenges today. Our investments create new knowledge through: funding research excellence; responding to society's challenges; developing skills, leadership and infrastructure; and leading the UK's research direction. We drive innovation through: creating environments and brokering partnerships; co-delivering research and innovation with over 2,500 businesses, 1,000 of which are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); and providing intelligence for policy making.

The seven UK research councils are:

  • Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
  • Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
  • Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC)
  • Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
  • Medical Research Council (MRC)
  • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
  • Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC)