India moves to catalyse innovation through academia-industry partnership

November 30 2017

Academia and industry are two important pillars of our economy. A robust collaboration between the two will augur well for our developing economy, enabling innovation, growth in the education system and producing an employment-ready workforce.

For several years, innovation in the education system has impacted the way businesses operate. Millennials entering the job market today are ready to learn new technologies and how to collaborate. Entrepreneurs and educational institutes need to recognise this opportunity and build a constructive framework for collaboration to make India a global innovation hub.

In countries like the US, corporates reach out to universities/institutions to bring innovation into their work, while in India, corporates and industry bodies rely mostly on their own research rather than reaching out to academia. The social environment, lack of awareness about scholarships, stereotyped images of pure science projects and the attitude of corporates towards scholars are some of the issues which need to be dealt with if India needs to surpass China and other Western nations.

There are beginnings of a shift in this approach in India. There have been huge leaps taken by various corporates and academia to bring about positive change and innovation. The country is currently at a juncture where platforms like MeltingPot2020 are playing a major role in the transformational story and reaching the heights of innovation through industry-academia collaboration. Consider a few examples:

* HDFC bank recently announced its plan to partner 50 technology companies and business schools to tap emerging FinTech ideas starting with IIT-Bombay and IIT-Roorkee as part of its industry-academia partnership effort.

* The Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) also increased funding to IIT- Madras by nearly Rs 300 crore ($47 million) to encourage innovation and strengthen industry-academia ties.

* India Electronics and Semiconductor Association (IESA), the trade body representing the Indian ESDM (Electronic System Design and Manufacturing) industry, signed four MoUs with IIT-Kharagpur to build a robust talent pipeline in the ESDM space.

The focus needs to be largely on improving the Research and Development wings of institutes. For lack of it, even home-grown companies such as the Tatas are choosing to invest $25 million in globally-recognised institutions like Harvard and Yale for top-end research instead of betting on India.

Another area for development could be encouraging a public-private initiative to launch faculty development programmes in leading universities and focus on more outcome-based research. Additionally, industry should participate in developing the entrepreneurial culture in India by setting up incubation centres and research parks for innovative research.

It is clearly time to create a nurturing environment where the industry and the academia can work hand-in-hand. Corporates are beginning to realise the significance and engage in more and more research-based projects. In addition, government projects likes Start-up India and the Prime Minister's Fellowship Scheme for Doctoral Research will help bridge this gap and inculcate innovation across industries/sectors.

(Indu Kannan is Associate Vice President, Kestone Integrated Marketing Services Pvt. Ltd. The views expressed are personal. She can be contacted at indu@kestone.in)

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  • IANS