Sweden-India Innovation Partnership: Invigorated!

he relationship with India has flourished since last year’s signing of the Sweden-India Innovation Partnership. It got further impetus during the recent State visit to India by Their Majesties King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. As part of the State visit, the Office of Science and Innovation, with support from the Office of Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India, organised the first ever India-Sweden High-Level Dialogue on Innovation Policy.

The dialogue was jointly inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and His Majesty the King on December 2 at Hyderabad House in New Delhi. Minister Ibrahim Baylan, Minister for Business, Industry and Innovation and Dr Harsh Vardhan, Minister for Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Health and Family Welfare were also present for the dialogue.

In the dialogue joint projects and partnerships in strategic areas such as circular economy, digital health, artificial intelligence, sustainable energy, smart cities and entrepreneurship were announced. New potential bilateral projects in areas such as health, mobility, and traffic safety were also called for by both sides. The opportunity to increase exchange between Swedish and Indian incubators was highlighted as an important step towards advancing cooperation and finding innovative solutions to sustainability challenges. 

The dialogue, which brought together a large number of government officials, prominent industrialists and renowned academics from both Sweden and India, created a triple helix platform for key stakeholders to provide strategic direction for joint innovation policy formulation. The platform enabled the participants to exchange experiences and best practice regarding innovation policy and discuss key interventions to further strengthen the capacity to create vibrant joint innovation ecosystems.

Have a look at the dialogue here.

For us, what really shone through from the dialogue is the willingness and enthusiasm from both sides to ensure that more partnership activities can demonstrate concrete sustainability outcomes for both people and planet.

Here are some of the major announcements made during the dialogue:

  • Department of Science and Technology, India and Sweden’s government agency for innovation – Vinnova – have agreed to co-fund three bilateral industrial R&D projects in the area of ‘Smart Cities and Clean Technologies’ and ‘Digitalization and Internet of Things’. The projects are all focused on the co-development of new products, processes or technologies.
  • Department of Science & Technology, India and Swedish Research Council will co-fund twenty bilateral research projects in the area of ‘Computer Science’ and ‘Material Science’.
  • Department of Biotechnology, India and Vinnova have agreed to co-fund a joint program in the area of ‘Digital Health and AI’. The program aims to provide scalable and implementable innovative, sustainable and flexible health solutions in both countries, using artificial intelligence-based technologies as a tool. The joint call will open in 2020.
  • Department of Science & Technology, India and Swedish Energy Agency have agreed to co-fund a bilateral industrial R&D Programme in the area of Smart Grids. The joint call will open in 2020.
  • KTH Royal Institute of Technology and IIT Madras announced the establishment of a new ‘Joint Centre of Excellence in Innovation and Entrepreneurship’. The joint centre aims to build an entrepreneurial spirit and cross-border teams creating innovations that could target the markets in both Sweden and India, as well as globally.
  • The Ministry of Earth Sciences, India and the Ministry of Education and Research, Sweden have agreed to increase collaboration in Polar research. The agreement covers scientific, technical and infrastructural collaboration in Polar research.

We were also proud to announce a joint pilot plant to turn paddy stubble into biocoal. The biocoal produced in the pilot plant resembles fossil coal but is renewable and carbon neutral. As an agricultural economy, India produces large amounts of agri-waste. The pilot plant demonstrates an innovative method of turning agri-waste, that would otherwise be burnt, into clean energy, bearing the promise of lowering India’s coal dependence and improving air quality. The pilot plant is supported by The Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, the Swedish company Bioendev, and the National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute in Punjab.

Have a look at this video to learn more about this very promising collaboration.

Innovation cooperation is the fastest growing element in the bilateral relationship between India and Sweden. It’s been a very eventful year as the interest in working together has increased considerably! The dialogue has invigorated the partnership and laid the foundation for more mutual projects and innovations. Our team is confident that we will continue to make significant moves towards economic and social benefits for both India and Sweden. The potential for strengthening our bilateral cooperation is truly exciting. We look forward to a new year of co-development and co-creation with India!

Season’s greetings!

Fanny, Leena, Mini & Joel