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[NEW DELHI] India has signed an agreement with Europe to invest in joint science projects in fields of mutual interest.

The agreement was reached at a meeting of Indian and European science ministers in New Delhi this week (7 February).

The European Union (EU) recently announced its seventh framework for research funding (FP7), which promotes cooperation between European researchers and those in developing countries (see Developing nations eligible for European funding).

Indian science minister Kapil Sibal said his country would contribute US$6.5 million each year to joint programmes funded through FP7, which has a budget of over US$69 billion over seven years. 

Previous Indian-EU projects have covered research into health and biotechnology, climate change and information communication technologies for society. The new partnership seeks to enhance collaboration in nanotechnology, nanobiotechnology and advanced materials.

Both sides stressed that the cooperation should be based on "principles of symmetry, reciprocity, mutual benefit and, where appropriate, the co-investment of resources in joint actions". They also emphasised the importance of gaining public acceptance for scientific research.

They recommended that the two sides create joint infrastructure for advanced research in India and the EU, and set up systems to provide follow-up funds for collaborations between European and Indian scientists.

Sibal said Indian scientists will share the intellectual property rights for patents that arise from joint projects.

India also announced that it would become a partner in the Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research in Germany, a particle accelerator for advanced physics research.

India will contribute three per cent of the total construction and operational costs of the US$2.7 billion project, which has enrolled 13 countries, including China. 

Annette Schavan, German minister of education and research, said the two-day visit of the EU science delegation to India marked a "milestone" in the history of EU-India science cooperation.