Innovation & Global Cooperation for Sustainability

The conference brought together more than 200 participants from Indian and German higher education institutions. It aimed to initiate dialogues on deepening and strengthening future academic cooperation between the two countries in the context of SDGs. Furthermore, it celebrated the 15 successful years of A New Passage to India (ANPtI), a programme funded by the BMBF and run by the DAAD. Germany and India have successfully intensified their economic and scientific relations. Today Germany is host to more than 43,000 Indian students and more than 450 higher education cooperation partnerships between Indian and German universities have been established.


‘Innovation and Global Cooperation for Sustainability’ (12 to 14 March 2024) highlighted the achievements of the programme ‘A New Passage to India’ (ANPtI) and connected awardees and project teams that received funds under different funding lines – all within the context of SDGs.

The participants shared knowledge, networked and discussed Indo-German academic exchange and its importance in the times of changing geopolitics.

Programme of the conference

The highlights of the conference were

  • First ever meeting of more than 200 persons who received DAAD funding under the ANPtI programme
  • Meeting of the project leaders for the jointly funded projects under the Indo-German Partnership programme implemented by UGC and DAAD
  • Thematic workshops, World Café, BarCamp, design thinking workshops, poster presentations
  • Active contribution of the participants in sessions, pitches, poster presentation by selection
  • Networking within various groups across different career stages
  • Paperless, environment friendly action

And there was of course a lot more to it...

Day 1

The conference “Innovation and Global Partnerships for SDG” opened with a fire-side chat on Indo-German higher education cooperation. Neeta Prasad, Joint Secretary Ministry of Education of India, and Prof. Dr. Joybrato Mukherjee, President of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) discussed the status and perspective for future cooperation of Indian and German higher education institutions. The discussion focused on the vision of the National Education Policy of India for internationalisation, the role of India and Germany in the internationalisation activities of both countries as well as on the questions how the number of German students and academicians in India could be increased.

The second part of the opening day saw a BarCamp with 160 participants who pitched their ideas and points of discussion which were later discussed at 16 breakout tables. The participants engaged in a lively discussion on topics such as Gender and Imbalance – Humanities vs. Hard Sciences, Water Security, Technology Transfer and Societal Interfaces, Academic Rankings – Good or Bad. Right at the start of the conference, the BarCamp enabled participants to engage in dialogue across disciplines and age boundaries and laid the foundation for further talks and networking during the conference.

Day 2

The day 2 of the conference dived deep into three distinct realms of DAAD foci.


One realm was that of collaborative innovation and ideas brimming with dynamic sessions and thought-provoking discussions, challenges and visions for the future. The German and Indian project partners from the 25 projects funded under ‘A New Passage to India’ programme, showcased their respective projects in 90 seconds with their project’s essence highlighting key achievements. The interactive sessions and group activities with the Principal Investigators and postdocs from various DAAD-funded projects and other stakeholders on day 2 of the conference developed further networking among the project participants.

The day ended with the poster presentations for 25 projects. This also gave an opportunity for other stakeholders like DAAD alumni, students and mentors from DAAD WISE programme present at the conference to get to know the project and interact.

In the ever-evolving landscape of academia and innovation, the Indo-German partnerships through these projects stand as a beacon of collaboration and progress.

WISE Alumni and Mentors

The second group comprised of WISE (Working Internships in Science and Engineering) alumni along with 8 mentors from Germany who have been hosts to WISE scholarship awardees.

The first session of Introduction and Experience Sharing was an ice breaker session where the WISE alumni were grouped with one mentor each to reflect upon the takeaways both positive and negative, as well as academic and personal, of their experience of the scholarship. These were then presented and discussed. How the mentors benefitted from these scholars in their project/lab work was also discussed.

This was followed by a fun pitch competition where 11 WISE Alumni made 5-minute pitches regarding their ongoing research projects or projects they had worked on during their WISE internship. These were judged by the mentors and the audience consisting of WISE alumni. The two winners of the competition were awarded a DAAD goodie bag with fun prizes.

The moderators of the sessions discussed with the mentors and alumni how as an organisation the DAAD could incorporate new and convenient methods and processes for future scholarship applications.


The alumni session started with the ‘Experience sharing and Good Practice Examples on successful International Cooperation Projects’ (funded by DAAD).  The idea was to guide and encourage alumni to undertake international cooperation projects with Germany.

There was a dedicated brainstorming session on how to strengthen and streamline alumni activities and networks within the region, hence experienced and young budding minds explored novel and thematic ideas for innovative formats and strategies for the future.

Thoughts and insights were also shared on the Indo-German cooperation projects and models contributing towards SDGs with the objective to engage like-minded alumni participants present at the conference who were committed to sustainable development and knowledge sharing.

The session on DAAD Alumni offers for former scholarship holders acted as an impetus to revive their connect with research in Germany and gave them an insight into DAAD funding opportunities. The alumni participants were also introduced to an alumni networking platform called Alumni Portal Deutschland (APD) which has Germany-Alumni registered on their platform from all over the world.

Day 3

The last day of the conference opened with a brief address by Prof.Dr Joybrato Mukherjee, followed by a keynote by Professor Dr. N.V. Varghese, Former Vice-Chancellor of National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA).

The Information Booth with stalls by Educational Consultants India Limited (EdCIL), (under Ministry of Education, India), DAAD, German Centre for Research and Innovation (DWIH), German Research Foundation (DFG), Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (SPARC, GIAN), Indo-German Science and Technology Centre (IGSTC), Ministry of Education and University Grants Commission (UGC) kept interesting conversations on the theme going throughout the day.

After the keynote parallel sessions with lectures by Indian as well as German experts on SDG 4 Quality Education, SDG 9 Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure, SDG 10 Reduce Inequality within and Among Countries, SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities and SDG 13 Climate Change took place with very active involvement from all participants.

This was followed by very open and heartfelt talks by Georg Enzweiler, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Germany in New Delhi, Dr Shalia Shah, Ministry of Education, Govt. of India and Prof.Dr. Joybrato Mukherjee. Both countries expressed a keen interest in cooperation in the context of education and research. This interest was again underscored in the panel discussion that had the theme of the conference ‘Innovation and Global Cooperation in Higher Education for Sustainability’ at its core

The day and the conference concluded with final remarks by Dr Katja Lasch, Director, DAAD Regional Office New Delhi.

Opening Day (12 Mar)

It will open on 12 March with an interactive Fireside Chat on Indo German Cooperation on Higher Education, the discourse will focus on global geopolitical developments and current developments in internationalisation policies, funding strategies and internationalisation of higher education in India and Germany. A BarCamp will follow this, where the agenda will be introduced and moderated discussions will take place.

Workshop Day (13 Mar)

On the second day, the participants will be with their peers in the following workshops:

  • WISE Alumni Meeting: Panel discussions, pitch competition, sessions with German mentors (former hosts of the WISE scholarship holders)
  • Meeting of PI and Early-career Researchers of DAAD- funded Projects: Sharing of good practice, brainstorming for future cooperation projects
  • DAAD Alumni Meeting: Brainstorming on alumni activities and future project ideas, overview of DAAD  offers for alumni

Furthermore, a poster presentation, where the participants of all three streams united, will take place.

Conference Day (14 Mar)

On the final day, the three streams will come together for a conference where they will be joined by stakeholders, experts and external participants for sessions and discussions.

  • Keynote address: two experts from India and Germany will address the overarching topic of sustainability
  • Panel Discussions: with focus on the contribution of higher education institutions in accelerating the implementation of the sustainable development goals and the way forward in Indo-German cooperation
  • Parallel sessions: presentations followed by discussions on the following topics:
    • SDG 4 Quality Education – Universities as facilitator of equitable quality education and lifelong learning
    • SDG 9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure – The contribution of HEIs to innovation ecosystems
    • SDG 10 Reduce inequality within and among countries – Inclusion in higher education
    • SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities – Sustainability activities and strategies of higher education institutions
    • SDG 13 Climate Change – Mitigating climate change through knowledge transfer and capacity building


In the year 2009 the DAAD launched ‘A New Passage to India’ (ANPtI). This programme was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). During the 5th Inter-Governmental Consultation in 2019, the Indian and German governments expressed their willingness for a long standing and stronger higher education and research partnership between the two countries. Subsequently a new project phase of the ANPtI was agreed upon from 2019 to 2024.
‘A New Passage to India’ has been running successfully for the past 15 years fostering Indo-German academic relations.