Indian delegation to ‘SeaTech Week’ in France pitched for deeper collaboration

A delegation from Indian Institute of Technology-Goa that attended the “Sea Tech Week” held from 8th to 12th October 2018 in Brest city of France, exchanged the thoughts on scientific collaborations in various areas. The visit was to take forward the MoU signed between India and France earlier during Knowledge Summit held at New Delhi


Brest/New Delhi: The ‘SeaTech Week’ has been an annual platform in France that represents huge number of participants including researchers, industrialists and decision makers, and a unique opportunity to develop business relationships and scientific collaborations. The latest edition of “Sea Tech Week” that was held from 8th to 12th October 2018, was in Brest which is a shining spotlight on marine bio-resources, an area of excellence for Brittany in France.

This year, the main theme was marine bioresources, covering a broad sweep from resource characterization and production to economic development. The objective was to put a spotlight all the latest technologies on offer in these different fields of application.

Indian connection 

India too marked its presence at this event as a special session was devoted to the GOAT project (Goa Atlantic cooperation programme on Marine Science and Technology). The country was represented by a delegation from India comprising seven faculty members from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Goa. The visit was in accordance with the ‘Letter of intent’ signed between India and France alongside the Knowledge Summit that held in New Delhi, earlier in March 2018.

The delegation was led by Prof Gajanana Prabhu Gaonkar who is a senior visiting faculty at IIT-Goa and a professor at IIT-Bombay. The other members included Dr Sachin Dnyandeo Kore,  Dr Clint Pazhayidam George, Dr Roy Rudranarayan, Dr Thajudeen Thaseem, Dr Narayan Rishikesh and Dr Pramanick Bidhan.

Partners decided to join their effort for the development of the GOAT project, an educational and research exchange programme in the area of Marine Science and Technology. Based on a bottom-up approach, the GOAT project involves both public and private sectors.

Earlier an MoU was signed between the Indian Institute of Technology Goa (IIT Goa), India; Naval Group, France; Campus mondial de la mer, a community of marine science and technology players from Brest and Brittany in France.

Cooperation between Indian and French scientists

The workshop held at the Sea Tech Week included the presentation of the partners of CMM to Indian partners (also associated to several in situ visits). The workshop helped in the identification of cooperation opportunities and of scientists interested in the cooperation. It lead to establishing a detailed work programme of cooperation.

The workshop started with a general presentation of GOAT project followed by the presentation of IIT Goa and on the French side, there was the presentation of Campus Mondial de la Mer, followed by presentation of French companies and institutions: Pôle Mer Bretagne Atlantique, Naval Group, Thales, ECA, FEM (France Energies Marines) and CEDRE scientific and technical discussions.

For each topic, a presentation of Indian cooperation proposal was presented and followed by discussions with local specialists. The topic included renewable marine energy, non-destructive evaluation and control, advanced computational techniques, numerical modelling and mathematics: combustion technologies, robotics, and chemical technology.

Apart from that, the opportunities in marine biotechnologies including ultrafast light induced processes, femto chemistry and femto biology as well as drugs from marine sources were discussed as well.

Speaking to the BioVoice, Prof Gajanana Prabhu Gaonkar who led the Indian delegation stated that there has been a positive feedback from the French counterparts to the various joint proposals put forward by the IIT-Goa scientists. “The advancements in the sea technology in France can be benefited from by us and our knowledge in basic sciences can make it work for both sides. There are various areas where the strengths of both sides can create future synergies into development of new innovations. I am hopeful that we will be working together in many exciting areas,” mentioned Prof Gaonkar who has been awarded the insignia of the Knight of the National Order of Merit (Chevalier dans l’Ordre National du Mérite) by the French government in 2015.

A look at the background

India is amongst the top 12 biotech destinations in the world and ranks third in the Asia Pacific region and always trying to innovate. The Indian biotech industry is expected to grow at 30.46 percent CAGR to reach USD 100 billion by 2025. The sea technology with its enormous potential is still an opportunity waiting to be tapped.

The country has a favorable climate, diverse aqua fauna and its 8000 km long coastline to support its marine life. India is working to generate the knowledge and innovations required for efficient utilization of its coastal wasteland, sea water, marine algae and solar power.

India also has state of the art technology centers and institutes of excellence in marine resources like the Central Marine Fisheries Research Centre Kochi, Dept of Biotechnology New Delhi, National Centre for Biological Sciences Karnataka. India also possesses two major research centers on marine science and technology NIO (National Institute of Oceanography, Goa) and NIOT (National Institute on Ocean Technology, Chennai). Various research programs are conducted in these public institutes  and projects are undertaken individually by the institutes themselves or in collaboration with other Indian or foreign research institutes.

In 2015, a MoU was signed by India and France for developing common activity on Marine Biology and Biotechnology. More recently in 2018, during the Knowledge Summit, a letter of intent has been signed between IIT Goa, Naval Group and CMM (Campus Mondial de la Mer, representing the whole community of marine sciences and technology, including biotechnology, of Western Brittany, Brest, France).

GOAT is an Educational and Research Exchange Programme in the area of Marine Science and Technology that  involves  both  public and private sectors. The visit of the Indian delegation was aimed to set up together with the French partners a detailed project overview document.

*Note: The story is based on a recent visit of BioVoice Chief Editor to the France as a part of delegation to SeaTech Week 2018, held in Brest.