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In the wake of UK foreign secretary Liz Truss’s official visit to India, the two countries have committed to collaborations to boost 5G networks and future generations of telecoms, specifically agreeing to two UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)-funded projects. The projects are also part of a wider UKRI collaboration with the Indian Department of Science and Technology (DST), as together they explore a new research and innovation partnership in the area of future telecom networks.
The two comprise the UK-India Future Networks Initiative (UKI-FNI), a £1.4m project led by the University of East Anglia in collaboration with other UK and Indian universities to build the capability, capacity and relationships between the two countries in telecoms diversification technologies, and research for 5G and beyond. The second takes the form of a £180,000 grant to the Compound Semiconductor Applications (CSA) Catapult to explore opportunities for further UK-India collaboration on the needs of future telecoms networks.
UKI-FNI will work to establish joint use testbeds to explore some of the challenges in the adoption of 5G. Funded by UKRI India and UKRI’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), it will also develop a joint roadmap and research strategy for 5G and beyond.
UKRI and India have already co-invested more than £330m in joint programmes and £450m in further funding from public, non-profit and industry partners. UKRI India has facilitated a diverse portfolio of research and innovation collaboration covering climate, energy, environment, health, societies and culture, and technology-driven innovation.
Through the funding announced today, CSA Catapult, supported by UKRI’s Innovate UK, will explore opportunities for companies and universities to collaborate on joint research and innovation projects to meet the requirements for future telecom networks. Five technology streams will be explored to address the dual challenges of cost-effective, secure digital access while reducing energy usage across the network.
Since beginning operations in 2018, the CSA Catapult has initiated over £140m of projects developing advanced electronics to power next-generation electric vehicles as part of its Net Zero commitment. The organisation sees a large opportunity in developing advanced electronic systems for future telecom networks working with industrial and academic partners in India.
Commenting on the collaboration, Julia Lopez, UK minister for media, data and digital infrastructure, said: “I am delighted that the UK and India are joining forces to look at how we can create more diverse, innovative and secure telecoms supply chains. This forward-looking partnership will bring together our nations’ finest minds to reduce the world’s over-reliance on a small number of firms to build and maintain the networks that are so vital to society and the global economy.”
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Sanjeev K Varshney, head of international cooperation at the Indian Department of Science and Technology, added: “The announcement of the India-UK partnership to develop newer research opportunities in future telecom networks is very timely, and we look forward to developing new bilateral collaboration in this and other emerging areas of mutual interest.”
UKRI India director Rebecca Fairbairn said: “UKRI India, in collaboration with our partner funders in India, is delighted to announce a drive towards a new Indo-UK research and innovation partnership on future telecom networks. Bringing together both our countries’ scientists, engineers and innovators, we will jointly develop new knowledge and high-impact research and innovation in line with our shared 2030 India-UK Roadmap.”