Collaborating in India to address global challenges: UCL Engineering at the India-UK TECH Summit

19 November 2016

UCL Engineering, big data and education experts joined Prime Ministers Theresa May and Narendra Modi at a conference exploring future collaboration opportunities between India and the UK.

Professor Patrick Wolfe (UCL Big Data Institute and the Alan Turing Institute), Professor Eli Keshavarz-Moore (Vice-Dean International, Engineering) Dr Jason Blackstock (UCL Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy – STEaPP) as well as Professor Marie Lall (Pro-Vice-Provost, South Asia),  travelled out to New Delhi for the hotly anticipated India-UK TECH Summit.

They were joined by Roger de Montfort (Managing Director, UCL Consultants) and Lesley Hayman (Head of Global Partnerships).

The TECH summit – of which UCL was an Associate Partner – brought together government, businesses, educational institutions and innovators to connect and explore the future of collaboration between the UK and India.

It was Theresa May’s first bilateral visit outside of Europe, to begin formal negotiations for a UK-India trade agreement. Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Jo Johnson, and Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox, also attended.

India- Uk Tech Summit

Applying knowledge for societal challenges

Professor Wolfe introduced a 24-hour hackathon organised by RISE Mumbai, focusing on financial inclusion, and served as one of its judges, with Liam Fox presenting awards to the four top-scoring teams.

He also spoke at a Royal Academy of Engineering panel on how big data can be used to address societal challenges and shape policy, and joined high-profile panellists including Jo Johnson for a televised debate to round out the summit, reinforcing UCL’s commitment to strategic investment in partnerships with India.

Professor Wolfe said:

“The TECH Summit is an outstanding opportunity for us to catalyse joint activity with India. Opportunities abound for collaboration in core data science theory and methodology, as well as smart cities, energy and medicine. Be on the lookout for new opportunities to be announced in these and related areas.”

Building new collaborations

The summit gave the opportunity for UCL delegates to build on new and existing collaborations in India, particularly in the fields of health, education and engineering.

Among areas receiving considerable interest from Indian institutions were UCL STEaPP’s ‘How to Change the World’: a unique professional training programme that equips rising engineering talent with the skills to develop creative and technically robust solutions to 21st century challenges and to bring about positive social change.

Dr Blackstock said:

“A core challenge for India is harnessing its increasing technical capabilities towards addressing numerous social and societal challenges such as poverty reduction, environmental management and distributed clean energy. How to Change the World and UCL STEaPP’s Master’s in Public Administration are excellent examples of how we could work with institutions in India to address these.”

Professor Lall, who was part of a senior delegation from leading UK universities accompanying Jo Johnson on the visit, said: “This was a successful visit for UCL. The institutions we met with all spoke about solving real world problems and how to change education, which resonates well with UCL’s own philosophy.”

The summit also offered an insight into current challenges and opportunities facing the Indian higher education system – from quality and regulation to autonomy, innovation and capacity development.

The TECH Summit was a joint initiative between UK Department of Trade & Investment and the Confederation of Indian Industry, marking 2016 as UK-India Year of Education, Research and Innovation.

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