When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Sweden in April 2018 — the first Indian premier to do so in 30 years — he brought home some $1.1 billion in investment pledges from Swedish firms, according to media reports.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven had also reportedly promised to collaborate with India on its flagship projects on smart cities, digitization, building startups.
The two governments signed a joint declaration on Sweden-India innovation partnership to explore ways to increase cooperation in fields such as smart cities and transportation, advanced manufacturing, space and aeronautics, and health and life sciences, among others.
A year later on April 11, 2019, the two countries announced a joint Industrial R&D program that would see the two countries address shared challenges in the area of smart cities, clean technologies, digitalization, and the internet of things (IoT).
The program is co-funded by India’s Department of Science & Technology (DST) and Sweden’s innovation agency, Vinnova, according to a news release from the Embassy of Sweden in New Delhi.
“A year ago, we signed the Sweden-India Innovation Partnership. Today we are announcing jointly funded programs. We are looking at deepening cooperation in the areas of smart cities, energy, digitalization, life sciences as well as developing our startup communities and allowing startups to grow and prosper,” said Klas Molin, Ambassador of Sweden to India, in a media statement.
“Moving from idea to innovation requires learning and collaboration,” he added.
Under the agreement, Vinnova will provide funding to Swedish side participants up to SEK 2.5 million (approximately US$265,000) as a grant. On the Indian side, a conditional grant of up to 50% with a limit of INR 1.5 crores (US$214,320) per project to Indian project partners will be provided.
Joakim Appelquist, Deputy Director General, Vinnova said that the program can play an effective role in taking the best out of Swedish and Indian innovators.
The Swedish government has also earmarked an additional SEK 50 million (approximately US$ 5.3 million) to Vinnova to commence and inaugurate the innovation partnership with India.
A request for proposal published in the DST website stated that to qualify for the grant, the Indian Project Lead (IPL) must be a commercial (for profit) company under the Indian Companies Act 1956/2013, and must operate in and headquartered in India. At least 51% stake of the company must be owned by Indian citizens. It should also be able to bring in industry partners from academic, R&D and consortium.
On the Swedish side, the company must be registered in Sweden. Research institutions such as universities, colleges and research institutes, as well as other companies with operations in Sweden, are encouraged to apply.
The program, which is managed by the Global Innovation & Technology Alliance (GITA) on behalf of DST in India and Vinnova in Sweden, is eyeing to develop technologies that can be commercialized after two years.
The focused sectors include Transport & mobility (electrical vehicles, autonomous vehicles, traffic safety, Mobility as a service, reduction in traffic congestion, digital solutions, etc.); Environmental technologies (ecosystem services, clean water and air, waste management, renewable energy, etc.); Circular and bio-based economy (bio-based materials, biofuels, (resource efficiency in consumption and production, waste-to-wealth); Energy; (reduced energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, alternative fuels and mobile energy sources, renewable energy, energy storage, resource-efficient infrastructure planning, etc.); and City planning (ICT for urban technical supply, geodata, tools for dialogue with citizens, etc.)