The Joint Science and Technology Steering Committee with India took place on 12 February 2021. The meeting was opened by Director-General Jean-Eric Paquet who recalled that India is a key strategic partner for the EU with growing economic and geopolitical significance. The increasing political importance attached to India, means also more opportunities in research and innovation to underpin the policy objectives, going from green growth to digitalisation in a human centric way, resilient health systems and connectivity through more people-to-people exchanges. In all this, the innovation dimension plays an important role.
India stressed the increasing role and expectations from science, technology and innovation in the country as reflected in the draft Science Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy. They underlined that to achieve all its socio-economic and demographic challenges, it was important that it becomes more ‘self-reliant’, while continuing international cooperation.
The meeting itself was co-chaired by Mrs Maria Cristina Russo, Director International Cooperation, and her counterpart in Department of Science and Technology (DST) Dr S.K. Varshney, Head of International Cooperation Division.
Both sides established the good cooperation under Horizon 2020: 42 collaborative projects amounting to a total of EUR 157 million funding (EUR 113 million from H2020 and EUR 44 million from Government of India), good performance under the European Research Council (45 grantees under Horizon 2020) and ranked first beneficiary (1729 PhD/Post-Doc) among all non-European countries under Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA). Most cooperation took place through flagship calls on respectively, water, health (new generation influenza vaccine) and smart grids.
Director Russo outlined the general principles on international cooperation. Taking into account the Joint Statement and the ‘EU-India Strategic Partnership: A Roadmap to 2025’, adopted at the EU-India Summit in July 2020, the two sides discussed possible cooperation on ICT, in particular cyber-physical-systems (ICPS) including artificial intelligence and robotics, circular economy and resource efficiency (waste-to-energy, plastics, etc), electric mobility and sustainable agri-food processing. The important role of Mission Innovation to concentrate efforts on research and innovation to accelerate clean energy transition, necessary for a carbon neutral planet, was recognised. They also discussed to reinforce cooperation on health beyond Covid-19 pandemic areas, through global fora. Both sides also welcomed the good cooperation on polar sciences and discussed future cooperation under Horizon Europe. On MCSA, cooperation to increase institutional partnerships, including with co-funding, was also discussed.
India presented its draft Science, Technology Innovation policy, which included many objectives and values embedded in Horizon Europe and the new European Research Area communication. The EU offered expert dialogues and sharing best practices on areas of mutual interest, to come to a better level playing field when engaging in research and innovation, notably on open access, research integrity and ethics and gender.
In preparation of the EU-India Leaders Meeting in May 2021, the two sides expressed willingness to consider how increased cooperation on R&I could help advancing the strategic agenda.
12 February 2021