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EU and India – strategic research partners

The European land transport industries have many of the technologies India needs as it faces growing transport challenges, while Indian scientists have considerable technological expertise to share with European transport researchers. At the ‘EU-India Workshop on Co-operation in Road Transport R&D’, the two sides came together to pursue new industrial and research partnerships.

EU and India – strategic research partners

The potential for scientific and industrial co-operation between India and the European Union in the field of land transport is great. Both sides are heavily involved in advanced research on fuel cell technologies and in the exploitation of new materials to make vehicles safer and cleaner. Both are exploring new concepts in road construction and traffic flow, and each aims to reduce its region's road fatality rates.

The European Commission Communication of June 2004 entitled ‘An EU-India Strategic Partnership’ identifies the challenges, opportunities and expectations for international, economic and development policies between the EU and India. It calls for building on synergies within the framework of scientific and technological co-operation, promoting contacts between research organisations and individual scientists for EU-India joint research.

EU-India Road Transport Workshop

The ‘EU-India Workshop on Co-operation in Road Transport R&D’ held in Bangalore on 8-10 November 2004 was organised by the European Commission’s DG RTD Surface Transport Unit, Society for Innovation and Development (SID) and the Indian Institute of Science. It was attended by 75 participants from Indian industry and academia and 10 high-level European experts.

In addition to providing the opportunity to forge new EU-India links, the workshop also resulted in a joint statement and a specific action plan with the aim of contributing to increasing networking and information exchange between the two scientific communities in fields of common interest, as well as exploring increasing Indian participation in the EU's Sixth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP6).

EU-India consultations: finding common ground

India’s transport sectors are poised for huge growth, but they also pose big challenges. The country’s automobile and lorry industries need advanced IT-based systems and capabilities, its road construction equipment and methods must be modernised to meet rising safety standards, and India's extensive though colonial-era rail network needs a complete overhaul.

For India, improving road safety is crucial. Whereas the number of fatalities in most European countries hovers between one and two per 10,000 vehicles, in India the annual rate is 14.5. This is far higher than other low-income countries such as Mexico or Malaysia, where fatality rates per 10,000 vehicles are 4.6 and 5.6, respectively. This explains India's keen interest in new materials research, telematics, radar technology and satellite-based positioning capabilities, for collision-avoidance systems for cars and lorries – technologies of equal interest to EU industries.

Luisa Prista, Head of EU Surface Transport Research, with Indian delegate
Luisa Prista, Head of EU Surface Transport Research, with Indian delegateThe Action Plan

The Joint Statement and Action Plan produced at the 8-10 November Workshop defines two main goals:

  • Improved participation of Indian organisations in FP6;
  • Stronger links between EU and India for future RTD activities in the field of transport research.

Short-term actions:

Lateral entry of Indian partners in running projects – ongoing FP6 projects with potential for Indian participation were identified, including APROSYS, Autosim, Green, EcoEngines, HYICE, HYTRAN, NICE, SEES, SAFECOS05, OPTO-EMI-SENSE, and VISIONS. Coordinators of these projects will be put in contact with short-listed Indian candidates for further discussions;

Participation in the next call for proposals – an overview of expected topics and research domains was presented by EU Surface Transport Research Head Luisa Prista. Indian participation in EU National Contact Point events will also be explored;

Sharing of expert databases – a short list of Indian experts for assisting in future evaluations of European calls for proposals will be provided to the Commission. A list of high-level Indian experts for possible participation in European strategic conferences, workshops and high-level groups will be provided, and Indian and EU websites (CAR database and EC Surface Transport database) will be linked.

Medium-term actions

Closer ties between ERTRAC and TIFAC, the European and Indian organisations dedicated to strategic road transport research activities;

Long-term actions

European researchers could participate in Indian research programs within the framework of the India-EC Science &Technology agreement.