India and Switzerland as Innovation Partners

In the Federal Council’s Dispatch on the Promotion of Education, Research and Innovation for 2008-2011, the Swiss Confederation broadened its foreign science policy, naming eight non-EU countries with which it wished to deepen bilateral scientific relations, of which India was one. Till then, most Swiss international research and innovation cooperation took place with countries in Europe and Northern America.

However, some cooperation in research and innovation had already begun within the framework of an agreement between the Government of India and the government of Switzerland on technical and economic cooperation signed in New Delhi in 1966.

The opening of swissnex India in the year 2010 in Bangalore gave a further boost to existing ties. swissnexes worldwide (also present in San Francisco, Boston, Shanghai and Rio de Janerio) are Swiss scientific outposts in cities which are at the heart of innovation related activities and aim to connect Switzerland and the world in science, education, art, and innovation.

Some 30 cooperation agreements also exist between Swiss and Indian research institutions, either at the university level or at the faculty level. These involve the two Federal Institutes of Technology and the universities of Lausanne, Zurich and Lucerne and the universities of applied sciences of Bern, Olten and Zurich on the Swiss side and the Indian institute of Science, the Indian Institutes of Technology Bombay, Chennai, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur and Roorkee, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University, Vishwa Bharati University, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, the National Law School of India University, Anna University, Centre for Planning and Architecture, amongst others.

Several cooperation programmes to promote Indo-Swiss innovation cooperation exist. They include, amongst others:

The Indo-Swiss Joint Research programme
A formal framework agreement in the field of science and technology, which eventually led to the initiation of the Indo-Swiss Joint Research Programme, was signed in 2003. Started as a pilot programme, it has since developed into a competitive research funding programme. To date, the Swiss side has provided CHF 13M for the programme, which has been matched by the Indian side. In the last call for proposals 11 projects were funded in the areas of translational biomedical research and medical technology and renewable energy research.

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The Indian Himalayas Climate Adaptation Programme (IHCAP)
Anchored within the framework agreement of science and technology between Switzerland and India, the Indian Himalayas Climate Adaptation Programme (IHCAP) is a project under Global Programme Climate Change (GPCC) of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). IHCAP is focused on capacity building the field of glaciology and related areas, collaborative studies between Indian and Swiss institutions on climate impacts, risks, vulnerability and hazard assessment in the Himalayan region and capacity building on adaptation planning at the sub-national level.

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The Indo-Swiss Building Energy Efficiency Project
The Indo-Swiss Building Energy Efficiency Project is a bilateral cooperation project between the Ministry of Power, Government of India and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation. The overall objective of the project is to reduce energy consumption in new commercial buildings through efficient design, construction, innovative technologies, capacity building and disseminate best practices and knowledge on energy-efficient building designs.

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The Low Carbon Cement Project
Limestone Calcined Clay Cement (LC3) is a new type of low carbon cement that is based on a blend of crushed limestone, calcined clay and clinker. Preliminary research shows that the new cement mix has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 30%. LC3 is cost effective and does not require capital intensive modifications to existing cement plants. The project is under the Global Programme Climate Change (GPCC) of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and aims at establishing standards that will allow widespread applications of LC3.

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