Exclusive opinion by Aline Dobbie: University of Edinburgh to showcase key research ideas at India UK Tech Summit

Exclusive opinion by Aline Dobbie: University of Edinburgh to showcase key research ideas at India UK Tech Summit


In a weeks’ time Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation will lead a delegation to India and the University of Edinburgh will have strong representation.

In New Delhi, a Tech Summit will take place between 7-9 November. The ‘VIP Speaker’ is Theresa May and she will highlight some of Edinburgh’s key research areas – robotics with Sethu Vijayakumar – and Li-Fi, of which there will be a demonstration at the Summit.

Li-Fi or light fidelity uses light for communication and offers 10,000 times more capacity than the existing radio spectrum, which supports Wi-Fi. The inventor is Prof Harald Haas based in Edinburgh University. As one who is a Scot but born in India and grew up there it is so good to see the UK and India harnessing their potential for innovation and research and scientific and other research.

India, there is no doubt is one of the greats of the 21st century, and I know I am biased, of course, but being the world’s largest democracy counts for a great deal.  With all her charms, and her many challenges, India has in the past given our world so much in knowledge and will continue to do so.

Scotland, though a tiny country, from the Age of Enlightenment that lit up the European thinking of its day and then spread globally, has done so much of which to be proud too. To have the University of Edinburgh contributing in such a large measure to collaborative work between the UK and India is something of which those of us who care passionately about India and the UK can be very proud.

Centre for Brain Development & Repair, Bangalore: A transnational research partnership investigating autism. The CBDR’s focus is research on neurodevelopmental (autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disabilities) and neurodegenerative disorders (multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, dementias) towards developing a deeper understanding and ultimately new therapies. These are major public health issues with 100 million affected by neurodevelopmental disorders and more than 20 million worldwide are diagnosed with neurodegenerative diseases.

Master’s in Family Medicine: Family physicians are the rising stars of the future per the WHO. A blended learning programme that supports doctors in their journey toward ‘resolving more, referring less’ and delivery quality healthcare in rural and underserved communities was launched by the University of Edinburgh in September 2014 in partnership with the Christian Medical College Vellore. The programme allows physicians to gain a University of Edinburgh degree while continuing their work in these communities.

In 2013, 95 University of Edinburgh staff and students joined the University of Delhi’s College on Wheels project. This experience included travel by train from Delhi before passing through the economic heart of Punjab. On board the train, students were taught about India’s history and undertook projects, wrote book reviews and kept diaries of the journey. The University played host to the Indian women’s hockey squad as they trained for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games as well as the University of Delhi Men’s hockey team.

The Jeanne Marching International Centre for Animal Welfare Education supported the development of new programmes in animal welfare training (a first in India) at the National Institute for Animal Welfare, in partnership with Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Moray House School of Education is working with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences on a central government funded programme to improve the quality of education across the public sector, with a focus on teacher education. The University’s School of Engineering is working with a group of agencies on a marine renewable energy feasibility project, the Global Development Academy is working on bolstering off grid renewable energy ecosystems in rural Odisha and the School of Chemistry is working with a network of Indian partners to develop low cost solar materials.

The Roslin Institute is working with Indian partners on a DBT – BBSRC initiative on farmed animal disease and health, with a particular focus on avian influenza and buffalo immunity and genetics. The University’s engagement with India has not gone unnoticed. In June, this year the Ministry of Human Resource Development in India announced (in a highly publicised programme), as part of their major policy initiative, Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (National Higher Education Campaign), that Edinburgh (only UK University mentioned) will be helping internationalise curricula in India. Six other US universities were also named.

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