India, France join hands for greater cooperation in science and technology

India and France Wednesday signed a host of agreements for cooperation in the fields of science and technology and health and education and announced various programmes.

New Delhi: India and France Wednesday signed a host of agreements for cooperation in the fields of science and technology and health and education and announced various programmes for increasing bilateral collaboration in research and design.

The Union Science and Technology Ministry today said its Technology Development Board had entered into an agreement with BPI, France, to organise funding for technology development projects on which the two countries could work together.

Similarly, CEFIPRA, which is the Indo-French Centre for Promotion of Advance Research, has embarked on an ambitious programme to bring together clusters from France and India and enhance industry-industry-academia linkages with the underlying theme of innovation.

"Two such clusters, one linking Bangalore and Paris on Embedded Systems for Aerospace Applications, and the second, linking automobile clusters in Chennai and Lyon have already been established," Science and Technology Minister S Jaipal Reddy said at the India-France Technology Summit today.

The minister said that while Indians have proved to be successful in the areas of IT, chemical and biotechnology, France had wider experience in applied research and the ability to convert R&D findings into commercial technologies.

"All these sectors have tremendous potential for developing gainful bilateral partnerships through involvement of industry, enterprises and academia," the minister said.

"Last year, India`s exports to France rose by 12 per cent and French exports to India rose by 8 per cent. It is not surprising that the trade relationship is predominantly underpinned by knowledge-based industries like automobiles, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, etc.," the minister said.

The MoUs signed and the programmes announced altogether numbered 18, including one between CEFIPRA and Saint Gobain Research India for `Habitat in Hot and Humid Climate` research.

Reddy said that under the 12th Five Year Plan, India will be putting a thrust on increasing industry and private sector investment in research.

Several new policy paradigms, funding instruments and tax incentives were being put in place to encourage the Public- Private-Partnership model for R&D, he added.

"An alliance has been formed with CII to establish the Global Innovation and Technology Alliance (GITA), a Section 25 company, to promote and implement industrial technology programmes on an international level," he said.

He further added that the department of Biotechnology has established the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) to empower and enable affordable product development through PPP mode.

India has declared the current decade as the `Decade of Innovation`.
For ensuring inclusive growth, it is imperative that we find technical and scientific solutions to the complex problems which confront our society, Reddy said.

The French Ambassador to India, Francois Richier, who read out a speech by French President Francois Hollande on the occasion, said that French companies have heavily invested in India over the past few years and have brought with themselves their knowhow and technology.

"The time has come to inaugurate a new chapter in our scientific and technological relations. This requires the establishment of pathways between universities, research institutes, competitive clusters and companies - including SMEs and SMBs" he said.

Roger Genet, Director General of Research and Innovation in the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research, said that French industrial policy would be strengthened by several initiatives aimed at gathering researchers, engineers, designers and entrepreneurs to increase PPP towards tomorrow`s products and inventions.