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Innovation and Science @Bharat

Industry Academia Collaboration

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Introduction

Innovation and Science @Bharat, the Strategic Alliances division of the Office of Principal Scientific Adviser, has over the past year facilitated partnerships between Industry, Foundation, academia, startups, MSMEs, through coalitions, consortia both national and international. The deliberations that followed saw demand from the industries and foundations feeding into academia and start-up ecosystem’s strategy of developing innovative solutions to meet them. The Industry-Academia collaborations over the last year have supported (a) joint R&D or contracted industry R&D; (b) establishment of Centres of Excellence (CoE) by industry in academia, and (c) finding innovative solutions for social development.

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In this Section

COVID-19 Projects

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India is currently battling its second COVID-19 wave, which requires a more coordinated and focused approach to provide immediate relief to the people of India. The Government of India is working with various stakeholders to provide critical medical care to people who need it the most, while simultaneously preparing to expand its COVID-19 vaccination efforts from May 1, 2021, to cover all its citizens above 18 years of age.

Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser, Government of India (O/o PSA, GoI) is calling for private sector companies, donor organizations, and individuals to join India’s fight against COVID-19 by providing philanthropic funding to help scale up high-impact health technology and infrastructure solutions. They can do this by supporting 'Project Extension Hospitals' and 'Project O2'.

 

India to Enhance Surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 through Viral Genome Sequencing to Monitor Future Trajectory of COVID-19

 

Download information on Project Hospital extension and Project O2

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MediCAB: Extension of hospital infrastructure

The country is in dire need of robust health infrastructure to prepare the country for this and future pandemics. The Office of PSA has reached out to State Governments to invite their interest to get CSR funding for building upon existent hospital infrastructure to enhance patient care across the country by equipping hospitals with more beds, oxygen concentrators, ventilators, and other necessary equipment. The States that reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases were reached out to on a priority basis. The state-wise list of hospitals that have reached out to office of PSA  are listed along with their location, requirements, point-of-contact are included in this section and is being continuously updated. Organizations interested to fund any of these proposals are requested to write to industry-engagement@psa.gov.in.

Download information on Project Extension of Hospital

Project Extension of Hospitals: A timeline

Read Doordarshan's coverage on "Project MediCAB: Augmentation of Hospital Infrastructure"

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Project O2

Project O2 caters to meeting the rising demand for medical oxygen by supporting hospitals to procure oxygen and related high priority equipment from approved manufacturers and start-ups, supporting manufacturers and start-ups to scale up capacity, addressing logistics challenges, enabling supplies to extended/make-shift hospitals.

This project is facilitating at the national level supply of critical raw materials such as zeolites, setting up of small oxygen plants, manufacturing compressors, final products i.e. quality oxygen cylinders, concentrators, and ventilators.

MediCab
Project O2

The country is in dire need of robust health infrastructure to prepare the country for this and future pandemics. The Office of PSA has reached out to State Governments to invite their interest to get CSR funding for building upon existent hospital infrastructure to enhance patient care across the country by equipping hospitals with more beds, oxygen concentrators, ventilators, and other necessary equipment. The States that reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases were reached out to on a priority basis. The state-wise list of hospitals that have reached out to office of PSA  are listed along with their location, requirements, point-of-contact are included in this section and is being continuously updated. Organizations interested to fund any of these proposals are requested to write to industry-engagement@psa.gov.in.

Download information on Project Extension of Hospital

Project Extension of Hospitals: A timeline

Read Doordarshan's coverage on "Project MediCAB: Augmentation of Hospital Infrastructure"

Project O2 caters to meeting the rising demand for medical oxygen by supporting hospitals to procure oxygen and related high priority equipment from approved manufacturers and start-ups, supporting manufacturers and start-ups to scale up capacity, addressing logistics challenges, enabling supplies to extended/make-shift hospitals.

This project is facilitating at the national level supply of critical raw materials such as zeolites, setting up of small oxygen plants, manufacturing compressors, final products i.e. quality oxygen cylinders, concentrators, and ventilators.

The Innovation & Science @Bharat Series

The Innovation & Science @Bharat initiative of the Office of PSA has been facilitating industry and academia engagements for more than a year now. Building up these bridges taught us that there are lessons learnt during these processes that are worth sharing with the scientific community as a whole. To continue this engagement, Office of PSA has initiated Knowledge sharing webinar sessions, for details,

Success stories of Industry–Academia collaboration

COVID-19 changed the way we do science, develop technology-based solutions, and innovate. A lot of it also happened in India. One of the primary reasons it could happen is the encouragement that academia got through industry partnerships. It is in these partnerships that we saw, a textile-based company tapping its technological knowhow to make better fabrics for frontline workers at higher risk of getting infected; a philanthropic organization doing its bit to support epidemiological modelling to track the spread of infection across the country; a national bank allocating funds to propel an IIT’s efforts in drug repurposing; and a multinational corporation contributing for mass production of COVID-19 testing kits. Partnerships were made in numbers like never before, to accomplish common goals; the most important goal now being fighting back the pandemic, and preparing for future outbreaks by building a stronger health care system. 

Download the list of Industry-Academia partnership outcomes

CSR Partnerships for COVID-19 research and technology solutions

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Partnerships between academia and industries has had an enormous impact to ensure the fight against COVID-19 pandemic is rapid and effective. As the vaccination drive begins, the partnerships need to diversify into areas important to ensure the roll-out reaches the last mile.

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CSR Partnerships for S&T cluster proposals

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The Science & Technology (S&T) Clusters are being established as formal umbrella structures for S&T organizations in various cities to have better synergy while retaining their autonomy and are supported by the Office of PSA on the recommendation of PM-STIAC to create an Atmanirbhar Bharat through S&T. The S&T clusters will create strong linkages between existing academic institutions, national & state research laboratories, and other stakeholders like relevant ministries, industry partners, start-ups, MSMEs, state governments, philanthropic foundations, and international organizations.

To accomplish their objectives towards the goal of strengthening the S&T ecosystem of the country, academic institutes from across the clusters have submitted proposals across thematic areas including emerging technologies and technologies for socio-economic development for CSR funding. The details of proposals received from different S&T clusters and the current status of evaluation/funding are here.

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Gaps in the Ecosystem

A review of the current ecosystem of science and technology interactions between the Indian industry, academia, start-ups and MSMEs indicates several gaps. 

1
Currently the industry members work with individual academic institutes and mostly reach out to those that are geographically close or known to them to derive solutions to challenging problems. 
2
The academic institutes also work in silos, many of them do not collaborate nor do they utilize the strengths of each other in trying to solve the industry sought problems. Equipment, subject matter expertise, Ph.D. students, and the rich knowledge in these institutes of eminence is not shared between each other. 
3
Indian start-ups and MSMEs possess niche and deep skills but do not have the access to opportunities to apply their skills to solve challenges. These limitations also hinder their sustenance and growth prospects. The national incubators and research parks established at some of the institutes of eminence are the ideal ...

Cluster Mode

The plugging of gaps would assist in realizing a vibrant, effective, and thriving system that can support India’s social and economic development. The industry members are the ones that are best placed to identify the problems and challenges in society. The majority of the start-ups and MSMEs currently are out of the National incubation and research park’s ambit and do not receive formal capacity building. To alleviate these challenges, working in a cluster mode is essential to reduce duplication of efforts and to leverage the strengths of each other. 

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Industry led Science & Technologies Cluster development

The Office of PSA to the Government of India has proposed a facilitation process to develop these Science and Technologies Innovation clusters to work closely with Industry, Academia, and MSMEs/Start-ups. This would also ensure capacity building of the MSME sector. The end result of such collaborations would be optimal utilization of each other’s strengths and be able to develop technologies or provide scientific solutions for Social Development/National Missions. 

Team

Director, Strategic Alliances

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Dr. Sapna Poti

Director, Strategic Alliances

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Industry academia engagement group

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The industry in collaboration with academia and MSMEs/start-ups would develop new products and offerings. 

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The academia will get an opportunity to further the research in key areas as part of addressing the industry problems. 

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Start-ups and MSMEs can participate in providing solutions to the above challenges which would enable their growth and capacity building. 

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The country would ultimately benefit from this process by synergizing the combined strengths of these three pillars to address challenges in agriculture, water, waste management, and other key areas.

CLUSTER

Benefits

  • 01

    The proposed facilitation process opens up many possibilities of collaborations and partnerships. 

  • 02

    The industry-academia collaboration would support joint R&D and contracted R&D efforts to create new products (up to prototype stage). 

  • 03

    It will facilitate coming together of more than one academic institution to solve the industry problem, leading to a model of industry-academia collaboration with a cluster of institutes. 

  • 04

    Involving the MSMEs and start-ups for component development and/or product manufacturing to address the industry problems by the industry-academia consortium would also result in capacity building of MSMEs/start-ups. 

  • 05

    This will lead to new innovations resulting on account of cluster development through industry-academia and MSMEs/start-ups. 

  • 06

    This collaborative structure can be leveraged to obtain innovative solutions for social development. Science and technologies are key for social impact in areas such as Water, Waste management, Agriculture, Air pollution etc.

  • 07

    It will also provide opportunities to Ph.D. Students, who contributed through research projects or special internship to solve industry defined problems. As the facilitation process evolves, the entire Ph.D. student community in the country across disciplines can be integrated on a unified platform – which the industry and academia can tap to help and resolve the specific challenges.  

The other possible structures for collaboration are the establishment of Centers of Excellence by either the industry or academia. Industry can set up a Centre of Excellence (CoE) in any academic institute or break it into smaller CoEs in different institutes to further the R&D and promote innovations using sophisticated equipment and lab facilities.

Intended Process for Collaboration

An indicative process that describes the facilitation process by the Office of  the PSA, Government of India is detailed as below:

1

New R&D Problem

2

Disseminate the problem to STI cluster

3

Independent Evaluation of possible solutions

4

Formal MoU for project execution by industry and Academia

5

Implementing the solution by leveraging SMEs, Start-ups, Incubators

6

Achieve the intended results due to successful collaborative execution.

Intended Process for Collaboration

An indicative process that describes the facilitation process by the Office of the PSA, Government of India is detailed as below:

  • To begin with, Industry partners would share the R&D or the new product problem statement or request for setting up of CoE on any emerging technology with the Office of the PSA, GoI. 
  • Upon receiving a new R&D/product problem, the Communication team at the Office of PSA, GoI would share the challenge (details of the problem) with all Science and Technologies clusters, Institutes of Eminence, National Incubators, Startup India, AGNI Invest India, Atal Incubators.
  • The interested academic institution(s) [individually or collectively] and/or MSMEs and startups can then provide a proposal/approach on how they would work to solve the identified problem. 
  • The Office of the PSA, GoI would collate the proposals and share the same with the Industry partner. It can also help the Industry in getting an independent market assessment done by experts in the domain, to help the industry make the decision on whether to fund the academic institute for the product/prototype development or whether it is more feasible for in-house execution.
  • Upon identification of the best route/path to proceed, the selected academic institute and Industry to undertake an MoU and execute the project until the prototype stage. If the optimal path necessitates a requirement of a supply chain outside of the Industry, the consortium of the Institute and Industry can jointly handpick the MSMEs or start-ups to fulfill the requirements.
  • Execution of the project under the MoU will be monitored by the Office of PSA, GoI to ensure the production of required outcomes. 

 

Upon successful prototyping stage, Industry will further execute the product development activities, leading to introduction and sales of the new product offerings. All the above activities shall be facilitated through an online Portal supported by the Office of the PSA, GoI, eventually leading to successful STI cluster development. The Portal over has the potential to become an integrated platform for STI led innovation for the country. 

The initial outputs of the industry-academia collaboration, or the CoEs that get established as a response to the Industry request can then serve as national knowledge assets which can be harnessed for capacity building/reuse based on the context and requirements. 

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