Two events organised by the Royal Academy of Engineering on 16-17 April highlighted the social and economic importance of collaboration between universities and businesses in India, exploring the best ways to encourage partnerships and showcasing successful examples of these relationships in practice.

A two-day symposium organised by the Academy and the Government of India’s Department of Science and Technology, held at Panjab University, Chandigarh, India, brought together experts from both the UK and India to focus on ways to simplify research and innovation policy so the full benefits of these collaborations, such as developing engineering skills, encouraging entrepreneurship and solving economic and social development challenges, can be realised.

The symposium drew on recent experiences in developing the UK’s Industrial Strategy and the Dowling Review of Business-University Research Collaborations – a government review of how businesses of all sizes should be encouraged to connect with UK universities through strategic research partnerships, led by Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

The Academy has a long-standing partnership with India to encourage collaboration between universities and industry through the Industry Academia Partnership Programme (IAPP), which is run under its remit as a delivery partner of the Newton Fund and in partnership with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Now in its third year, IAPP aims to support Indian Tier 2 and Tier 3 education and research institutions to carry out excellent teaching, research and innovation related activities through collaboration with local industry and UK equivalents.

IAPP has supported 32 projects across India, spanning a full range of technology and engineering sectors. One such project, which also launched on 16-17 April in Uttar Pradesh, will encourage large-scale adoption and training in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and deep learning technologies in engineering institutions in India. Led by Bennett University and 25 Indian partner institutions, along with University College London and Brunel University in the UK, the project will develop a network of 2,500 tutors to train 100,000 students each year in AI and deep learning while establishing AI research groups within the lead institutions. It will connect skilled graduates with start-ups and industry to answer the growing demand for talented AI engineers in India.

The project is being carried out with a range of industry partners in India, including Amazon, and recently received significant funding from the All India Council for Technical Education.

In India, a young, growing population means the need to rapidly improve research productivity, increase industrial sustainability and generate jobs is pressing. Collaborations between industry and universities in research and innovation offer excellent opportunities to stimulate growth and address these challenges, but to do so effectively it is crucial that research and innovation policy is straightforward for both universities and businesses to understand.

Professor Sir William Wakeham FREng, former Vice President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said “Partnerships between universities and industry provide excellent opportunities to help solve economic and societal challenges but the variability of schemes and the lack of an overall systems approach means that the resource often doesn’t go where it is needed most.

“This meeting is a great opportunity to see how we can work together to improve research and innovation policy and ensure all parts of the process fit together as a coherent whole. The investment the Academy IAPP projects obtain in India from government, academia and industry shows the significant contributions a joined-up approach to research and skills partnership can bring. These projects allow the UK participants to build deep relationships with these important players in India’s innovation system.”

Notes to editors

  1. UK-India Industry Academia Partnership Programme. Under its remit as a delivery partner of the Newton Fund, the Academy has partnered with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry to enhance engineering teaching, research and innovation outcomes in Indian Tier 2 and Tier 3 universities through building bilateral industry-academia linkages. The collaborations are designed to generate new technologies, methodologies and industrial processes targeted at solving local development challenges, while also improving engineering education. This programme also aims to foster greater ties between engineering research and innovation stakeholders in both countries.
  1. Royal Academy of Engineering. As the UK’s national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook.

We have three strategic challenges:
- Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation
- Address the engineering skills crisis
- Position engineering at the heart of society

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