UK-India innovation centre kick-starts sustainable cooling journey

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Sustainable cooling will be critical in the future

University of Birmingham experts are joining the Government of Telangana State to create a ‘hot spot’ for sustainable cooling innovation – to accelerate the deployment of energy-efficient refrigeration for food and vaccine supply chains across India.

The Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Cooling and Cold-Chain will conduct state-of-the-art applied research in food and vaccine distribution, supporting the roll-out of affordable, energy resilient, low emission cold-chain systems in India.

Connecting British and Indian experts with investors, agri-food businesses, farmer co-operatives, and energy or logistics providers, the Centre will provide capacity building and training. An innovation hub and technology testing/demonstration facility is planned.

The partnership builds on the Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold Chain (ACES) and will be led by University of Birmingham and UN Environment Programme’s United for Efficiency (UNEP U4E) with technical assistance funding from the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra).

ACES’ ‘hub-and-spoke’ design will be adapted for operations in India – enhancing research and development capacity through a network of Specialized Outreach and Knowledge Establishments (SPOKEs) deploying technologies and innovative business models in rural communities.

Professor Robin Mason, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) at the University of Birmingham and Jayesh Ranjan IAS, Principal Secretary to Government & Commissioner Industrial Promotion, Industries & Commerce Department Government of Telangana signed a Memorandum of Understanding today in an online ceremony.

The ceremony was also attended by Lord Karan Bilimoria, Chancellor at the University of Birmingham and Rajender Reddy G, Director Logistics, Nodal Officer PM Gatishakti, Industries & Commerce Department Government of Telangana and Dipankar Chakraborty, University of Birmingham India Institute Director.

Jayesh Ranjan said: “Telangana and Hyderabad are well-connected at the heart of India and our businesses rely on efficient cold-chain logistics. The Centre of Excellence will connect Indian and British experts, investors and businesses to support the achievement of affordable, energy resilient, low emission cold-chain systems in India. This facility will provide better logistics and sustainable solutions for the produce get to market quickly and efficiently. I assure full support from the Government of Telangana in making this happen.”

The University of Birmingham will provide research expertise and involve UK technology experts and industry in establishing the Centre of Excellence. The State Government of Telangana plans to provide land and infrastructure, staff and resources, as well as a financial contribution towards establishing, operating and maintaining the Centre.

Toby Peters, Professor of Cold Economy at the University of Birmingham, said: “Working with Telangana will allow us to really expand the work across sustainable cold-chains for food and vaccines, localising solutions to the environment in Telangana with the skills and business models needed to l help accelerate the transition to sustainable cooling – regionally and nationally.”

The partnership aims to set up a Solutions Development Laboratory, Solutions Demonstration Centre, model pack-house and Community Cooling Hub. The SPOKEs will deliver upskilling and training programmes for farmers and local agri-businesses, agri-start-ups and entrepreneurs, equipment technicians and researchers.

Steve Cowperthwaite, Head of International Stratospheric Ozone and Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases, Defra, commented: “Building on the ground-breaking work in Africa we are delivering, this partnership will support real opportunities for change that can boost climate friendly, sustainable cold chains in India – offering real hope for progress in reducing food waste while simultaneously cutting emissions.”

UK Technical Collaboration will be led by the Centre of Sustainable Cooling (University of Birmingham) supported by its partners – Cranfield, London South Bank and Heriot-Watt Universities and UN U4E.

Andrew Fleming, British Deputy High Commissioner to Andhra Pradesh & Telangana said: “I am delighted by the pace the establishment of this Centre of Excellence is coming to fruition and excited for the positive benefits it stands to bring both the agriculture and health sectors. This will benefit both Telugu speaking states and the wider nation as some of the sharpest innovators from UK and India are connected in an area that will improve people’s lives in the same way as a sister facility in Kigali, Rwanda has begun to do across the African continent.”

Notes to editors:

  • For more information, please contact Tony Moran, International Communications Manager, University of Birmingham on +44 (0)782 783 2312. For out-of-hours enquiries, please call +44 (0) 7789 921 165.

About the Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold Chain (ACES)

  • The Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold Chain (ACES) is led by Rwanda’s Ministry of Environment, the University of Rwanda, UNEP’s United for Efficiency initiative, the University of Birmingham and Heriot Watt University, and Defra to support the roll-out of sustainable post-harvest management (PHM) and cold-chain pan-Africa. The Centre aligns with a portfolio of Rwandan and UK policies, and economic growth strategies as well as international commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Agreement, and Kigali Amendment of the Montreal Protocol. ACES is a parallel initiative to the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Post-Harvest Management and cold chain in India by the University of Birmingham working with the Department for International Trade and British High Commission.

About the University of Birmingham

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.
  • About the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
  • UNEP is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UNEP’s United for Efficiency (U4E) team leads market transformation projects on cooling, lighting and equipment with over forty developing and emerging economies. It co-leads the award-winning Rwanda Cooling Initiative and ACES.

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