UK – India Collaboration in Transforming Foundation Industries

Posted on: 08/08/2023

Innovate UK launched the Transforming Foundation Industries (TFI) Challenge in 2020, as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund Wave 3.

The UK’s foundation industries are vital for the manufacturing and construction sectors. The 6 foundation industries are:

  • cement
  • metals
  • glass
  • paper
  • ceramics
  • chemicals

About the TFI Challenge

The challenge aims to transform the UK’s foundation industries by:

  • making them internationally competitive
  • securing more jobs throughout the UK
  • growing the sector by 2024 in an environmentally sustainable way

Early on in the TFI Challenge, India was identified as an important potential international collaborator. Due to the size of the country and that it was developing, the foundation industries were much larger and with more modern plant than in the UK. Both were eager to decarbonise their foundation industries.

The collaboration started with the Foundation Industries Lab to Lab India Collaboration, funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) India. A number of projects were successfully delivered, including:

Following the success of this collaboration, Innovate UK KTN organised the virtual Global Expert Mission (GEM) to India in March 2022. Experts from all six foundation industries from both UK and India participated in a week of workshops and discussions being both sector focused, and theme focused. Whilst the UK delegates had become somewhat accustomed to working across the foundation industry sectors, their Indian counterparts were meeting people from outside their sectors for the first time and they saw great value in this. An Innovate UK KTN report detailing the findings is available here.

Following this UK-India GEM, discussions between UKRI India, Innovate UK and the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) were facilitated by Innovate UK KTN with a view to securing funding for a bi-lateral funding competition.

In February 2023, Innovate UK KTN participated in a TFI Global Business Innovation Programme (GBIP) to India designed to help ambitious businesses collaborate and expand in new markets. Organised by Innovate UK Edge, the delegation visited Kolkata and Ahmedabad during the week-long visit.

In April 2023, the UK hosted an inward mission of Indian Foundation Industries. Organised by Innovate UK Edge, the mission visited Liverpool and Coventry during a week-long tour. Some of the delegates of the UK India GEM were able to participate.

CR&D funding competition

All this activity has culminated in a bilateral £10 million CR&D funding competition (total UK/India funding) which closed to applications on 6th September 2023.

Ajay Kapadia, Knowledge Transfer Manager at Innovate UK KTN in the Materials Team, has been with the TFI Challenge from the early stages and has been involved in all the UK-India initiatives. He said:

This CR&D Funding Competition represents an excellent opportunity for UK and Indian Foundation Industries to collaborate and decarbonise. I have observed that climate change represents a real and present danger to India with droughts, floods and temperatures reaching 50 degrees in some parts of the country in the summer months. Yet, as a developing country, foundation industry materials are of great need. There are real synergies for UK and Indian collaboration and partnership and this opportunity should not be missed.

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Ajay Kapadia

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