BENGALURU: One of the highlights of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent US visit was his discussion with US President Joe Biden on the India-US Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET). Both the leaders identified iCET as the pivot with which the two countries can take their technical cooperation to the next level.
At a broader level, New Delhi and Washington seek to reap strategic and economic benefits through meaningful collaboration with each other. Under the tech partnership, India and the US will coordinate on science and tech research, civilian space, quantum technology, and semiconductor supply chains, among others.
What is iCET?
The esoteric-sounding term, coined in May 2022 when Modi and Biden announced the initiative in Tokyo, simply means partnership between Indian and US governments, private sector, institutions and academia to foster progress in strategic, emerging and complex technologies.
Under iCET, there will be technology partnerships and defence industrial cooperation between government, businesses and academic institutions of the two countries.
Both India and the US have said they are committed to fostering an open, accessible, and secure technology ecosystem, based on mutual trust and confidence.
Context and relevance
The strategic collaboration comes at a time when many businesses are focusing on AI, biotech and space. After the inaugural meeting held in Washington, DC in January 2023, both countries discussed opportunities for greater cooperation in critical and emerging technologies.
The US and India underlined their commitment to working to resolve issues related to regulatory barriers and business and talent mobility in both countries through a standing mechanism under iCET in January this year.
At the Washington meeting, led by National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval and his American counterpart Jake Sullivan, both sides noted the value of establishing innovation bridges in key sectors, including through expos, hackathons, and pitch sessions.
They also identified the fields of biotechnology, advanced materials, and rare earth processing technology as areas for future cooperation.
Progress so far
Before PM Modi's visit to the US, Doval and Sullivan reviewed the progress of iCET. Sullivan, who flew down to New Delhi, said one of the key focuses of iCET is to remove barriers to collaboration from both sides so as to exploit the full potential of bilateral cooperation. He said leading firms are looking to make investments in both directions.
“The US and India are poised to lead in clean energy transformation, shore up and diversify global semiconductor supply chains and supply chains in other critical goods, and lead the revolution in AI, advanced computing, biotech and quantum,” he added.
After Modi’s meeting with Biden, both leaders called on governments, businesses, and academic institutions to realise their shared vision for the strategic technology partnership.
In the meeting, it was said that the US and India will sustain and grow quantum training and exchange programmes and work to reduce barriers to US-India research collaboration.
A $2-million grant programme was launched for the joint development and commercialisation of AI and quantum technologies, and encouraged public-private collaborations to develop high-performance computing facilities in India.