Government moots plans to prop R&D investments

Commerce & Industry Ministry has suggested a seven-pronged approach that includes creating a policy framework and funding of technology projects to enhance investments in the R&D sector and boost manufacturing.

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has said the government needs to fund technology projects that translate scientific discoveries and cutting-edge inventions into technological innovations and accelerate advances in high-risk areas industry is unlikely to pursue independently.

It said in a discussion paper that the government should look at funding technologies and R&D that are likely to help India “leapfrog to the next generation of products, processes and services”.

India should identify key strategic areas that need the attention of publicly funded R&D institutions and for which funds have been earmarked over a reasonable horizon, say 5 years, to achieve broadly defined targets, it said.

Sectors such as textiles, agriculture, automobiles, pharma, aerospace, nano technology, IT and medical devices could be looked at, the paper has suggested.

“After the basic government funded R&D, the ideas can be taken forward through the value chain leading to technology licensing/transfer for commercial use,” it said.

It suggested framing a law similar to the one in Japan for promoting the establishment of technology licensing/transfer organisations (TLOs) with authority to licence some university inventions and to channel royalties back to the inventors, their laboratories and their universities.

Similarly, it said, the country can enact a law like in the US that allows patenting and licensing by US universities of inventions based on federally funded research.

“A similar Act in India with an Indian footprint can incentivise research relevant to industry in certain selected institutions,” the paper said.

It also recommended stronger University-Industry collaboration through joint and contract research in select universities.

Besides, the paper emphasised introduction of utility model for promotion of incremental innovation, particularly in the SME sector.

“In a resource constrained economy like ours, it could be argued that these minor technical inventions (onion seed transplanter, clay refrigerator) which frugally use local resources in a sustainable manner need to be encouraged by providing a legal framework for their protection and commercial exploitation,” it added.

Further, the paper suggested facilitating access of industry to environment friendly patents and other technology patents, particularly in manufacturing.

It also emphasised on human resource development for strengthening the innovation eco-system. 

India’s share of global trade in high technology products is only around 8 per cent and the aim is to double it through greater technology inputs from R&D, the DIPP paper said.

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