India and Israel signed a $50 million academic research agreement at the end of last week for collaboration in the sciences, humanities, technology and other fields.

The joint research program is a cooperation agreement over five years. Applications for funding will be invited in March next year, and projects will receive up to $200,000 a year for three years. About 50 joint projects are expected to be approved.

The program will support collaboration in the areas of the sciences, including life sciences and social sciences, as well as IT, technology, the humanities and agriculture.

The chairman of the Israel Science Foundation, Prof. Benjamin Geiger, signed the agreement in New Delhi with his Indian counterpart, chairman of the University Grants Commission, Ved Prakash. The pact follows a recent visit by Kapil Sibal, the Indian minister for human resource development, to Israel in April, when he met with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar and Manuel Trajtenberg, the chairman of the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education, the Indian press reported.

Israel recently signed a similar scientific cooperation agreement with China, which will bring dozens of Chinese scientists to Israel every year for postdoctoral research and training at Israeli institutions, as well as bringing undergraduate and graduate students.

China and India are the economies that stand out the most today in the international environment, said Trajtenberg. Exchange of knowledge is of decisive importance, as is joint research between scientists and academics from different countries, he added.