In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which exposed the vulnerabilities of health and healthcare systems worldwide, the need for comprehensive research, development and innovation efforts in tackling global health challenges has become more significant than ever before. Considering this critical need and the existing scientific collaborations and priorities identified during bilateral talks, the creation of a Franco-Indian network of excellence was envisioned to catalyse Franco-Indian research and scientific cooperation actions in the thrust areas of health and life sciences leveraging the scientific prowess of both nations and fostering linkages across academia, industry, governments, civil society and national borders in the Indo-Pacific region.
A call for projects was published in mid-April 2022 by France [Read here], inviting proposals from French higher education institutions to join this network of excellence, from which 9 projects were short-listed. Soon after, a networking workshop was organized in New Delhi on 27th and 28th June 2022 by the academic and scientific cooperation service of the French Embassy in India, assembling over 40 Indian and 20 French higher education and research institutions and more than 100 researchers and faculty to meet and discuss potential linkages with the shortlisted projects [Read here]. From this event was born new consortiums of French and Indian partners to further strengthen the networks proposed in the shortlisted projects. The final applications were submitted in September and 4 projects were selected in October to share a funding of over 900,000 euros offered by the French Ministries for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and Higher Education, Research and Innovation. This initial funding allocated for 2 years, 2023-2024, can be used to cover travel expenses and scholarships for students and faculty-researchers, costs relating to the organization of events, workshops, promotions and communication etc.
The selected projects cover a wide range of research fields– Digital Health, Biotechnology, AI for Health, Therapeutic Innovation, One Health, Public Health Policy, Innovation in Pharmaceuticals and Natural Products, Sports Sciences, Cancer, Immunology, Virology, AMR Neurosciences etc. – complimented by start-up incubation and ties with industry.
The long-term aim of the campus is to confer degrees at the Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral levels in association with research and innovation programmes. Considering the existing academic opportunities in France and India, and the wish to quickly link teaching, research and innovation activities, dual degrees at the master’s level are expected as a realistic short-term goal.
This ambitious project finds its place in the Horizon 2047 roadmap charting 100 years of Franco-Indian cooperation and is boosted by the Letter of Intent for cooperation in Health and Medicine signed by the two nations on 14th July 2023, on the occasion of PM Modi’s visit to France as the guest of honor at the French national day celebrations. [Read here]