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Transformational change in R&D promotion: Jaipal Reddy

India Infoline News Service/ 13:03 , Nov 08, 2012

Some concerns have been expressed at various levels that the connections between our knowledge and industrial application systems are weak. There are some pessimists who worry about such problems.

Following is the text of the Speech of the Union Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, Jaipal Reddy at the function of Launch of Prime Minister’s Fellowship Scheme for Doctoral Research in New Delhi: 

“I would consider the launch of the Prime Minister’s Fellowship Schemce for doctoral research as a land mark event of high significance. When the Secretary spoke to me about this launch programme, I realized that a seed is being sown today for a transformational change in the way research and development is being promoted in this country. Therefore, let me congratulate both Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for this important initiative. I am certain that the seed being sown today will grow into a fruit yielding tree before long and contribute to a much needed transformation in our innovation ecosystem. The fact that the Hon’ble Prime Minister has agreed to lend the name of his office bears testimony to the fact that this UPA Government attaches high significance to translation of research into innovations and innovations to value creation. 

Some concerns have been expressed at various levels that the connections between our knowledge and industrial application systems are weak. There are some pessimists who worry about such problems. I define a pessimist as one who sits in front of a chocolate cake and cashew bubies and worry about calories. I am optimist. The real change Indian S&T system needs is the transformational change in the mind set. No accomplishment would be possible by worrying about the challenges and problems. We must do something and that something must be defining and promote transformational change in the system. To me, this initiative is one such transformational change. There are huge emerging opportunities that are waiting to be tapped and converted into value for the country by bridging the disconnects between the knowledge and wealth creation sector. The present doctoral fellowship is indeed working in the area of national gap and is targeted to bridge the disconnects that pessimists are worrying about. 

Our knowledge institutions (IISc, IITs, IISERs and Universities) are creating intellectual properties in the form of papers in peer valued scientific journals. I am happy to note that the annual growth of the number of publications emanating from India is about 13-15% lately. This is good news of course, but the challenge is in the conversion of such knowledge into products of commercial value to the industrial users. Our industries need reliable source of modern technologies which could offer them intellectual properties with commercialization potentials. While our public funded R&D systems are busy publishing papers, the industries are searching for technologies for commercialization. 

Current models for interactions between our knowledge institutions and industry are based on transactions where money is exchanged for the knowledge in the form of end technology. Transactional interactions have not built strong ties and lasting relationships. What we need is a new model built on sustainable relationships between our researchers, technologists and end users in manufacturing, agriculture and service sectors. This relationship should be built on the principle of trust and mutual respect for each other. We need an eco system where educational institutions attach equal emphasis on both understanding and applications of knowledge, industries and enterprises dare to invest into breakthrough innovations and explore new markets in global economy. Trust amongst all stakeholders and realization of their respective complimentary roles is the building block of such relationships. The present scheme aims to meet the unmet needs and bridge the gaps between the two most important sectors of the country namely knowledge creating research and innovation with value and wealth creating industrial and agriculture sectors. 

If solutions to problems of practical utility should be discovered, we need to bring discoverers and solution seekers to the same table and make the solution seekers to define their problems first and then challenge the discoverers to design solutions to practical problems rather than on discoveries which are waiting for problems to solve. In other words we need a cadre of solution designers to emanate from a group of discoverers. 

The conventional wisdom and the experience of most nations reveal that those who relied on borrowed technology and outdated management tools were bypassed by the pace of global economic development. The role of cutting edge technology and investment in research & development becomes critical in the next levels of economic development. If India has to become a break out nation from the pool of emerging economies and join the elite league of developed nations, we have to invest a critical mass into research and innovations. We have to not only invest but also invest wisely. To me, this is one area of wise investment for both government and industry. Therefore, let me congratulate both partners today. 

The Government is committed to the promotion of partnerships between industry and academia in research & development. A Sub-Committee of Prime Minister’s Council on Trade & Industry was constituted for promoting Public-Private-Partnership in Research & Development and Clean Energy. The Public-Private-Partnership for human resource capacity building for industrial R&D has been recognised as one of the main deliverables by the Sub-Committee. This scheme could be seen as the first major step in the direction of creating a bridge between academia and industry through specialized manpower for meeting the needs of high quality research of industrial relevance. It is expected that the scheme will act as a connecting link which aligns the research priorities in knowledge institutions and create the culture of solution designs and science-led innovations for wealth creation. It will also encourage the best students to work on problems of direct relevance to industry for their Doctoral Research with sufficient academic depth. The scheme offers now a financial incentive for those who are able to align their research interests and engage their creative potentials to solving problems which are seeking solutions rather than to create solutions which would solve no one’s problems. 

The scheme offers opportunities with incentives for students registered for doctoral research starting the year 2012 in any of our knowledge institutions as well as R&D personnel employed in industrial sector but registered into doctoral research programmes in cutting edge areas of importance. This scheme aims to create a cadre of new brand of R&D personnel with high morale and a desire to write new history of research and innovations in Industrial research. Unless such a cadre of R&D professionals are created, the in-house research and innovations in the private sector would remain weak and engagement of the private sector into R&D would not match the global standards of twice the public funded R&D when expressed in terms of spending as a percentage of GDP. If Indian industry does not invest wisely into R&D, gaining competitiveness in global trade would become difficult for India. 

We need schemes and R&D investments which would enable science as potent enabler for shaping the future of India. This is our theme for the celebration of Year of Science when India is celebrating the 100th year of Indian Science Congress. The theme for the 100th session of Indian Science Congress is Science for shaping the Future of India. You may recall that the Hon’ble Prime Minister lamented in his address, during the Indian science Congress in January 2012, that private sector engagement into R&D is not proportional to our needs. My Ministry and Industrial sector have come together and designed this interesting scheme. To me this is the way forward. 

I am happy to note that DST (through Science & Engineering Research Board) and CII have come together to formalise this scheme to promote partnership between academia and industry for joint research and development and human resource capacity building through the joint fellowship programme. 

I also congratulate Secretary, DST for once again having taken the initiative on behalf of Government for coming up with new innovative ideas and set a new trend. I am also grateful to the Hon’ble Prime Minister for having agreed to extend the support to title the scheme so named, which indicates the importance assigned by the Government to scientific research. I am going to urge both DST and CII to make all attempts to actually award the first set of fellowships by 3rd January 2013 at the inaugural function of 100th session of Indian Science Congress. 

We all know that the most important journeys begin with a single small step. When Neil Armstrong landed on moon, you may recall, he said “this is a small step on the moon but a giant leap for the mankind”. Let us all hope that this and many more other schemes to follow would culminate in promoting high quality solution science and transformal research based on sound fundamentals and academic depth, by building a bridge between the shores of knowledge and wealth creating sectors. I take immense pleasure in formally launching the Prime Minister’s Fellowship Scheme for Doctoral Research, which is jointly promoted by SERB of DST & CII. 

I expect the private sector to invest more and more into research and innovations and partner our research institutions in solving national problems through accessible, available and affordable innovations. Let my country Arise! Awake! and stop not till the goal is reached, as Swami Vivekananda would have wished”.

 



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