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£15 million joint investment between UK and India takes aim at global challenges

Copyright: Ruskpp/iStock/Thinkstock

Scientists and businesses from the UK and India are joining forces to combat global challenges through two new collaborative research and development programmes. The two programmes, worth over £15 million, aim to tackle the reduction and repurposing of industrial waste, and improve and increase pulse and oilseed crop productivity.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and Innovate UK, all part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and the Department for Biotechnology (DBT) India are co-investing in two new collaborative UK-India research programmes which focus on key socio-economic challenges relevant to international development. Both programmes are being delivered through the Newton-Bhabha Fund, cementing the long-standing relationship between BBSRC and DBT India which has been facilitated over the past decade by the UKRI India overseas office since October 2008.

BBSRC Deputy Chief Executive, Steve Visscher, said: “This joint UK-India Newton-Bhabha Fund investment builds upon a long-standing partnership between BBSRC and DBT India. Through joint programmes such as this, BBSRC is proud to support the strong relationship between UK and Indian research communities.”

The first programme, jointly delivered by BBSRC, ESPRC, Innovate UK and DBT India, supports multidisciplinary research collaborations between the academic and industrial communities based in the UK and India. Research and development projects focus on using cutting-edge bioscience, chemistry and engineering solutions to reduce industrial waste and pollution in India. The conversion of industrial waste in to multiple useful products (a biorefinery approach) will allow for improved value recovery from waste, reducing the amounts needing disposal or being released into water courses.

Projects funded through the call provide an opportunity for collaborative learning around biorefining technologies and focus on the reduction and valorisation of Indian waste streams linked to the sugar cane sector, the paper and pulp sectors and municipal solid waste, representing a joint UK-India investment of £10 million. Enabling academic researchers to work with their industrial counterparts both in India and the UK will help translate research into waste management solutions for India, with the potential to be applied to similar challenges faced by developing countries worldwide.

The second programme supports collaborative research projects between UK and Indian scientists to increase sustainable production of pulses or oilseeds in India. Production of both crops currently falls short of demand in India and the outcomes of these joint projects will help enhance food security, reduce the need for imports and meet the demands of a growing population in India. The research will improve pulse and oilseed crop varieties by understanding and exploiting traits to enhance yield potential, increase tolerance to climatic stresses or poor-quality soils, or counter pests or diseases. The programme is supported by a joint BBSRC and DBT India investment of £5.3 million.

The list of projects that have been funded under both programmes is as follows:

Newton-Bhabha Fund Industrial Waste Challenge

  1. BIOREVIEW: Biorefining Value from Industrial Waste
    UK lead partners: David Bryant, Aberystwyth University / Manrochem Ltd
    Indian lead partner: Venkata Mohan, CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), Hyderabad
     
  2. Economic non-food sugar from variable mixed solid waste for high value chemical products
    UK lead partners: John Blacker, University of Leeds / Fiberight Ltd
    Indian lead partner: Bhaskar N. Thorat, Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT) Mumbai
     
  3. Integrated biorefinery for converting paper mill waste into chemical wealth (waste-2-wealth)
    UK lead partners: Nigel Scrutton, The University of Manchester / C3 Bio-Technologies Ltd
    Indian lead partner: Thallada Bhaskar, CSIR - Indian Institute of Petroleum
     
  4. Reducing industrial waste from sugarcane processing in India
    UK lead partners: Simon McQueen-Mason, University of York / Jesmond Engineering Ltd
    Indian lead partner: Syed Shams Yazdani, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology
     
  5. Valorising Waste from Sugar Cane and Associated Industries via Innovations in Pre-treatment, Biotransformation and Process Intensification
    UK lead partners: Vivek Vinayak Ranade, Queen's University Belfast / Nova Pangaea Technologies (UK) Ltd
    Indian lead partner: Sanjay V. Patil, Vasantdada Sugar Institute

Newton-Bhabha Fund Joint Call on Pulses and Oilseeds

  1. An integrated genomics/genetics approach for development of mungbean varieties with improved disease resistance
    UK lead partner: Konstantin Kanyuka, Rothamsted Research
    Indian lead partner: Ramesh Chand, Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Banaras Hindu University
     
  2. A strategy to exploit genomic selection for achieving higher genetic gains in groundnut
    UK lead partner: John Hickey, The University of Edinburgh
    Indian lead partner: Manish K Pandey, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Patancheru
     
  3. Exploring chemical 'de-priming' and quantitative genetics to improve growth and yield of soybean under abiotic stress
    UK lead partner: Anna Amtmann, University of Glasgow
    Indian lead partner: Ashish Kumar Srivastava, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC)
     
  4. Genomics-led improvement of biotic and abiotic stress tolerance in mustard rape for economic and environmental sustainability
    UK lead partner: Ian Bancroft, University of York
    Indian lead partner: Akshay K Pradhan, University of Delhi

ENDS

Note to editors

For further information on these research programmes, please visit the call for research proposals web pages:

Information on the other funders can be found at:

About 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 includes UK Research and Innovation (comprising the 7 research councils and Innovate UK), the UK academies, the British Council and the Met Office.

Follow the Newton Fund on Twitter: @NewtonFund.

About UK Research and Innovation

UK Research and Innovation UK Research and Innovation is a new body which works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. We aim to maximise the contribution of each of our component parts, working individually and collectively. We work with our many partners to benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas.

Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £6 billion, UK Research and Innovation brings together the seven research councils, Innovate UK and a new organisation, Research England.

About UK Research and Innovation India

UK Research and Innovation: UKRI India is based at the British High Commission in New Delhi, plays a key role in enhancing the UK-India relationship in research and innovation. Since 2008, when the office was established, the UK together with the government of India and third parties have together invested over £300 million in co-funded research and innovation programmes comprising over 140 individual projects, involving over 175 different UK and Indian research institutions and more than 100 industry partners. UKRI-India collaborative projects cover an array of themes, including, energy, environment, food security, health, next generation IT networks, social sciences, and humanities.

About the Department of Biotechnology

The Department of Biotechnology: Ministry of Science and Technology is India’s nodal organisation for promoting bioscience research and development in the country. It is mandated to promote large scale use of biotechnology, support R&D and manufacturing in biology, support autonomous institutions, promote University and industry interaction, identify and set up Centres of Excellence for R&D, integrated programme for human resource development, serve as nodal point for specific international collaborations, establishment of Infrastructure Facilities to support R&D and production, evolve Bio Safety Guidelines, manufacture and application of cell-based vaccines, serve as nodal point for the collection and dissemination of information relating to biotechnology.

About BBSRC

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.

BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by government, BBSRC invested £498 million in world-class bioscience in 2017-18. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

More information about UK Research and Innovation.
More information about BBSRC, our science and our impact.
More information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes.


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