Industry, academia come together

Innovation needs to be fostered by strong linkages of the two


Danish Raza | November 3, 2011

“The National Innovation Council is to create a $1 billion fund to spur innovation in industrial clusters,”  Sam Pitroda, advisor to the prime minister, told the India R&D 2011 event in the capital organised by FICCI and the department of science and technology. The fund will benefit 20-odd local industrial clusters identified by the council in collaboration with industry chambers.

He said industrial clusters should pool funds and create dedicated teams to collaborate with universities on R&D initiatives.

"I would very strongly recommend that in each major cluster, FICCI and other industry associations should work with local teams, with industrial advisory board at local university, create a small cell for industry university linkage," he said on Wednesday.

Pitroda said that the need of the hour was to create local advisory cells in universities, earmark funds for scholarships which will help spur innovative minds. “The way forward is to align local industry clusters with universities in their proximity and to enable universities to set up business incubators and R&D tool kits,” he said.

Pitroda said that people should take advantage of the rapid strides India has made in the IT and telecom space.

"We have almost 900 million connected people. We are building a national knowledge network to connect 1,500 nodes with 40-gigabit bandwidth to connect all our universities, R&D institutions and, hopefully some day, all our clusters. If we can use our broadband to improve collaboration, I think it's going to be a step in the right direction," Pitroda said.

R Chidambaram, principal scientific adviser to the government of India, underlined the need for a policy at the national level which enjoins government support to corporates which have human and technological resources to undertake research, over which the government has proprietary rights.
He suggested that while selecting students at college-level placement interviews, large industries should send the “creamy layer’’ to do research with a university of repute. That is the long term investment that will pay dividends, he remarked.

Chidambaram stressed the need for introducing new technologies for the first time, if India wishes to become a knowledge-driven economy. “Proven technology” is “obsolete technology”, he declared.

Pitroda and Chidambaram released the FICCI-ISB-Battelle report on industry-academia linkages.
Day one of the two-day conference discussed topics such as ‘fostering the R&D mindset in India’, ‘creating the IP ecosystem, ‘green energy, life sciences, web 2.0, transportation, global best practices in the national R&D framework, and experience sharing.”

In the present globalised and highly competitive environment, firms across sectors are working hard to enhance and optimise their R&D capabilities. Dinesh Singh, vice chancellor, Delhi university addressed an analytical and insightful perceptive on firms across sectors working hard to enhance and optimise their R&D capabilities.

R&D and innovation go hand in hand and innovation needs to be fostered in academia for it to be carry forward in industry.

“India can be the capital of innovation in the world,” said Rekha Shetty, managing director, Farstar Distribution Network Ltd. “India is a poor country and the solutions that we come up with for all our problems will be very good for the entire world.”

She said we need a wish list for innovation. “We need a department of innovation for the government, for universities. We need innovation education in schools and colleges. Innovation has to be taken from domain to chairman.”

Experts from industry and academia argued that no professional training was given in the emerging fields of green energy, life sciences and transportation.

Dipak Kripalani, senior consultant, TCS eco-sustainability services, said, “Some areas are really going to boost and need extensive skills and training. Like sustainable energy, renewable energy. We need academia to meet industry standards in a big way to help extract maximum results.”



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