The fourth Switzerland – India Joint Committee Meeting on November 21, 2017 set the course for future bilateral cooperation in the field of research. The Swiss delegation included representatives of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI, the Zurich University of Applied Sciences ZHAW as Leading House for research cooperation with India, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC. Ambassador Mauro Moruzzi led the delegation.
The aim of the meeting in New Delhi was, on the one hand, to evaluate the latest cooperation and processes. On the other hand, the delegations defined the next phase of the bilateral programme. The discussions resulted in an agreement that the Indian Department for Biotechnology (DBT) and the SNSF would launch a joint call for projects at the beginning of 2018. The “Academia Industry Training Programme”, which was opened by swissnex India for the fourth time on the sidelines of the meeting, was considered as a particularly successful collaboration. To date, the programme has supported 24 Swiss researchers in the commercialisation of their research results in India. The delegations agreed to continue the programme jointly.
Switzerland and India signed a bilateral framework agreement on scientific and technological cooperation since 2003. In the context of this agreement, there have already been 55 joint research projects and a good 90 exchange grants. Altogether, researchers and students from around 20 Swiss and 70 Indian higher education institutions have benefited from the bilateral agreement. The research areas covered included biosciences and materials sciences, nanotechnologies, health and medical sciences, urban development and sustainable energy.
India is one of the emerging global players in research and innovation, thanks to excellent research centres and a considerable talent pool. In addition to the bilateral framework agreement, there are more than 90 cooperation agreements between Swiss and Indian higher education and research institutions. Researchers from India are involved in more than 90 SNSF projects. The rapidly growing number of Indian students in Switzerland further reflects this intensive exchange: While there were fewer than 300 Indian students studying in Switzerland in 2005, by 2016 more than 900 Indians enrolled at a public Swiss university. In view of the substantial interest, Switzerland is represented in India both by a science counsellor at the Swiss Embassy in New Delhi and by a swissnex in Bangalore to support Swiss research actors on the ground.
The next meeting of the Joint Scientific Committee is scheduled to take place in Switzerland in 2019.