Science and Technology Clusters
Bengaluru Science and Technology Cluster Launched
—PSA Content Desk
Prof Ajay Kumar Sood, the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, launching the Bengaluru Science and Technology Cluster.
Image credits: BeST
On 16th November 2022, Prof Ajay Kumar Sood, Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA) to the Government of India, launched the Bengaluru Science and Technology (S&T) Cluster—or BeST Cluster, in short—at the plenary session of the Bengaluru Tech Summit. The launch took place in the presence of Prof G Padmanabhan, former Director, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Mr Kris Gopalakrishnan, Co-Founder, Infosys, and other dignitaries.
At the launch ceremony, Prof Sood said, “Bengaluru has enormous technological potential, and the state of Karnataka is among the leaders in science and technology advancements. The BeST Cluster will be a platform of active collaboration for the entire R&D ecosystem in the region.”
The purpose of establishing S&T clusters in six different regions of the country—for the first time in India’s history—is to bring together local collaborators from industry, government, and academia and enable them to work in synergy while retaining their autonomy. The S&T clusters aim to provide collaborative solutions to their respective regions’ unique environmental, socioeconomic, and developmental problems, which can then be scaled up to contribute to national missions, and finally be applied globally.
Prof Govindan Rangarajan, Director of IISc, remarked, “The BeST cluster launch could be a landmark moment for science and technology in India and possibly the world. We aim to bring together stakeholders with shared ecosystems, such as I-STEM and Manthan, and then follow this ground-up pyramid model.”
The ground-up pyramid model refers to the three objectives which the S&T clusters across the country are expected to achieve: first, sharing high-end labs and equipment through the I-STEM portal of the government, allowing mobility of researchers, and conducting high-quality human resource development programmes; second, becoming a regional solution provider through collaboration with local incubators, S&T councils, and innovation societies; and finally, becoming nationally and globally competitive by focusing on 1–2 domains of key strength.
Over the past few years, the five other S&T clusters in Delhi, Jodhpur, Pune, Hyderabad, and Bhubaneswar, have adhered to this mandate and made great strides in their areas of expertise, taking crucial steps to de-smog air, de-silt water, bring climate resilience to agriculture, improve access to healthcare, promote local handicrafts, support women in STEM, and much more.
Now, with the Office of the PSA having sanctioned the seed funding for BeST in September 2022 and given Bangalore's incredible R&D and innovation potential, it is time for BeST to follow in its footsteps.
Prof Sood addressing the Bengaluru Tech Summit, 2022.
Image credits: BeST
Today, at its inception, BeST is composed of several organisations, including industry partners, academic institutions, start-ups, civil society organisations, and government bodies. It has identified health and wellness, urban life, and futuristic technologies as its focus sectors. It has set up teams to work in one health, digital health, precision agriculture, urban transportation, monsoon and climate change, quantum technologies, active matter and robotics, and jet engines.
Furthermore, the setting up a Section 8 company is in the works to provide organisational support and raise and manage resources to help the Cluster not only harness Bangalore’s full potential to solve the pressing issues that Karnataka faces but also contribute to broader challenges that humanity is tackling.
“BeST can leverage Bengaluru’s research and industry ecosystem for taking on ambitious multi-disciplinary, multi-year programs which meet national strategic goals. This requires careful design of the program, careful selection of participants, setting achievable goals, and tracking of these goals to ensure timely progress.,” said Kris Gopalakrishnan.
Given the support and vibrant innovation ecosystem it is beginning its journey with, BeST, the newest of the six S&T clusters, is sure to soon make valuable additions to India’s efforts to achieve sustainability and self-sufficiency for a prosperous future.