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UK-India Agricultural Data: Enhancement by Integration, Interpretation and Reusability

Copyright: Ekkasit919/iStock/Thinkstock

Call status: Closed
Application deadline: Early January 2019

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), all parts of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), with the Indian Government’s Department for Biotechnology (DBT), are pleased to pre-announce a joint Newton-Bhabha Fund call for collaborative research proposals focussing on enhancement of agricultural data relevant to animal and plant health in India. The call for joint UK-India proposals will open in late September 2018/early October 2018 and the UK funders have up to £2 million to commit to this call, with matched funding from DBT.

An opportunity is now available to express interest in attending a partnership building workshop to be held in India during the week commencing 19 November 2018.

The call for proposals will be launched in late September/early October 2018 and will close in early January 2019 to allow time for both workshop participants and those who are not able to attend the workshop to develop up to 18-month project proposals in collaboration with Indian partners. Attendance at the workshop is not mandatory to apply to the call; presentations and a workshop report will be made public after the event.

Although the UK component of this call will be managed by BBSRC, it is an equal partnership with STFC and NERC (alongside DBT). We welcome diverse disciplines to consider how they might work together to address the aims of the call.


The grants will be short-term projects of up to 18 months awarded to a maximum of £150,000 (at 80% fEC) in the UK, with matched contribution from DBT. It is not necessary to request an equal amount of money from each side, but there should be a balanced partnership in terms of project design and research effort. UKRI and DBT anticipate funding up to 10 projects. Once projects commence, grant holders will have the opportunity to bid for small amounts of additional funding for integration, networking and extension activities.

Outline Scientific Scope

The joint India-UK multi-disciplinary call will aim to enhance and add value to existing animal and plant health data (both in India and the UK) in an agricultural context, through work on data and datasets to increase their accessibility and reusability. In addition, the focus will be on early stage development and provision of tools, algorithms or software that will add value to data by allowing analysis or interpretation of datasets, generation of models or predictions, or development of new insights by integrating datasets.

The purpose of the call is to build effective multi-disciplinary networks and partnerships between Indian and UK researchers and encourage end-user engagement (for example with farmers).

Investments made through this call will:

  • Increase our capability to predict disease/pest/pathogen outbreaks. Also, generate new knowledge that will improve yields and productivity on-farms, enhance animal and plant health, reduce losses, and increase farmers’ incomes Thus, improving the livelihood of small-holder farmers in India
  • Develop big data handling capacity and capability in India and the UK and develop tools, resources and methodologies for reuse, integration and responsible sharing of agricultural data between India and the UK.

The needs of Indian famers will be integral to the programme, with its outcomes aiming to enhance the provision of information to farmers to assist informed decision-making.

This call relates to some of the animal and plant health priorities identified at the Smart Agriculture Conclave meeting in India, August 2017: GOV.UK: UK-India organise Smart Agriculture Conclave in New Delhi.

As well as farmers, applicants are encouraged to work with other relevant industry partners or stakeholders where applicable.

Partnership Building Workshop

BBSRC, STFC, NERC, and DBT are holding a UK-India partnership building workshop early in the week commencing 19 November 2018 in India, to bring together UK and Indian scientists interested in this area. This will provide opportunities for face-to-face networking and for new UK-India collaborations to develop. The workshop will enable participants to better understand key challenges around data relevant to animal and plant health in Indian agriculture, and consider the research landscape and relevant expertise available in the UK and India.

The workshop is likely to last 3 days and may involve an in-country site visit to help provide participants with some context behind the key data-relevant animal and plant health challenges in Indian agriculture that new collaborative research projects could aim to address.

We are particularly interested in researchers who have:

  • expertise in one or more aspects of the above scientific scope
  • experience of working on agricultural data challenges and solutions applicable to India
  • experience of working on big data challenges that could offer wider technical expertise that is relevant in the scope of this call
  • the capacity to work on multidisciplinary challenges and to enhance existing data for new applications in the agricultural sector.

To this end, the UK funders invite Expressions of Interest (EoI) from eligible UK researchers who are interested in taking part in this partnership building workshop and are able to contribute expertise and experience to the discussions with our Indian counterparts. Approximately 20 delegates will be selected from the submitted EoIs.

As the awarding Council, the BBSRC definition of eligibility will be used for this programme. Please use our grants guide to check if you are eligible to receive funding before submitting an EoI.

How to apply for workshop participation

UK applicants should complete an EoI using the form: Key Survey: UK-India Agricultural Data Partnering Workshop(read our Terms of use: Key Survey).The application deadline for the workshop is 18 September 2018, 16:00 BST. There will be a competitive selection process to ensure a balance of expertise, coverage of the scope areas, and institutional representation at the workshop.

Submission of an EoI will be taken to mean that the applicant is available to attend on the specified dates and will make a commitment to attend if selected. The partnership-building workshop will take place in the week commencing 19 November 2018, and applicants should note the time needed to travel between the UK and India either side of the workshop. Additional details of the location, venue, visa, travel and accommodation arrangements will be provided to those invited to participate.

If successful, information provided in the expertise and experience section of the EoI form (Q1a) will be made available to everyone invited to attend the partnering workshop to facilitate networking and collaboration at the event.

Alongside information on relevant recent publications and grant funding, the Key Survey EoI process asks for information on:

  • Which challenge areas are you interested in?
  • How would you benefit from the workshop and what will you bring to the discussions?
  • Any existing partnerships you may have with Indian organisations
  • How will you disseminate workshop outputs to other UK colleagues?

No additional documentation will be accepted and late submissions will not be considered. The funders’ decisions on eligibility and attendance are final. Applicants will be informed of their selection for the workshop in late September 2018. Please note that because of the large number of applications expected, the funders will not be able to give individual feedback to unsuccessful applicants.

Please ensure you fully complete the Key Survey EoI as this is the only information on which potential workshop attendees will be selected.

It should be noted that all travel to the workshop, accommodation, refreshments, breakfast, lunch and dinner costs will be met by the funders. We will also reimburse any costs incurred through the need for additional care for dependents while attending the workshop. All other, incidental costs incurred whilst at the event must be met by the participant.

Workshop EoI Assessment Criteria

Overall, the funders will seek to ensure appropriate diversity and a balance of expertise is present at the workshop; and will take into account the criteria outlined below:

  • expertise in one or more aspects of the above scientific scope
  • experience of working on agricultural data challenges and solutions relevant to India
  • experience of working on big data challenges which could bring relevant wider technical expertise
  • the capacity to work on multidisciplinary challenges and to enhance existing data for new applications in the agricultural sector.

Equal Opportunities

The funders are committed to a policy of equal opportunities (UK Research and Innovation: Equality, diversity and inclusion) for applicants for funding. No eligible applicant should receive less favourable treatment on the grounds of disability, sex or gender re-assignment, marital status, sexual orientation, pregnancy, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, or contractual and work roles. Please contact us if you have any concerns regarding our equal opportunities policies or any other aspect of the workshop application process. We make every attempt to remove barriers to inclusion at our workshops. We have conducted a diversity and equality impact assessment for this workshop which can be found in the Downloads section.

Please note that applicants who do not attend the UK-India workshop will still be eligible to apply to the call. Workshop presentations and a brief report will be made available after the event.

The Newton Fund

The Newton Fund builds research and innovation partnerships with 17 active partner countries to support their economic development and social welfare, and to develop their research and innovation capacity for long-term sustainable growth. It has a total UK Government investment of £735 million up until 2021, with matched resources from the partner countries. The Newton Fund is managed by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and delivered through 7 UK delivery partners, which include UK Research and Innovation (comprising the 7 research councils and Innovate UK), the UK Academies, the British Council and the Met Office. For further information visit the Newton Fund website Newton Fund and follow via Twitter @NewtonFund


Stage Date
Expression of interest call for workshop opens - UK researchers 7 August 2018
Expression of interest call for workshop closes - UK researchers 18 September 2018, 16:00
Inform successful UK applicants 26 September 2018
Joint UK-India partnership building workshop w/c 19 November 2018
Call for UK-India research projects opens Late September/Early October 2018
Call for UK-India research projects closes Early January 2019
Funding decisions announced Early April 2019
UK-India research projects (up to 18 months) begin July 2019
Integration workshop for successful grant holders Early November 2019
Joint integration funding bids to be submitted by grant holders Late November 2019
Integration activities begin (running alongside projects) January 2020 to December 2020

Related calls: agriculture animal health collaboration crops Newton Fund data