Shivani Sharma

Senior Adviser, Science and Innovation Network

Part of Global Science and Innovation Network

24th May 2016 Delhi, India

Bridging industry and academia can help solve ‘grand challenges’

I was invited to a meeting of industry and academics who were focussing on translating excellent research into real world solutions.  The event was held at the DST Centre for Policy Research at Panjab University.  A key challenge India faces is bridging the gap between industry and researchers.  This is vital in solving bigger problems – the focus at this event was three sectors:  Agri, Pharma and Bio Tech.  It was also an opportunity to highlight our own experiences in this area.

I started by highlighting the importance of actively engaging industry throughout the process of translating research.  We explained how this could happen by using the Research Councils UK report on ‘Enhancing UK-India research collaboration with business and industry’.  Though commercial benefits of collaboration are important the “longer” time frames sometimes required mutual understanding across partners.  It was therefore important that academia and industry were willing to create the right conditions for discovery and research.

We built on this point during the breakout session, where we highlighted one of our biggest bilateral research and innovation programmes – the Newton-Bhabha Fund.  On the sidelines of the programme, my Delhi colleague, Kavita Vijh, briefed participants on the importance of translation under Newton.  This included funding companies and researchers in the UK and India to work together on societal challenges in urban settings (“Research & Innovation Bridges”) such as managing water resources better; people mobility and creating smarter infrastructure.  She also highlighted the importance of increasing skills in India to support its employment ambitions.  Under the Newton-Bhabha Higher Education Partnership Programme we are creating linkages between industry and higher education to better support engineering students in areas such as innovation and technology transfer.

The following recommendations have been made by the DST Centre for Policy Research:

  • Establishing a National Industry-Academia Centre (NIAC) to avoid overlaps and identify gaps in the Industry-Academia (I-A) programmes of India and also to keep abreast of the global I-A practices.
    –  NIAC would be entrusted with the responsibility of setting up a national I-A web portal comprising of scientific expertise and infrastructure (research publications, patents, technologies, consultancy, start ups, incubation centres etc.).
    – NIAC would be entrusted to study I-A policies of other countries with strong I-A records based on the WEF’s Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) rankings.
  • Establishing an Industry Assistance Council (IRAC) in funding new agencies with Indian Ministry of Human Resources & Development (MHRD). These could be set up as autonomous bodies for other industrial sectors.
    Setting up dedicated I-A institutes, under a Public-Private-Partnership model, by MHRD
  • Partnering an ‘A’ accredited university with a Department for Scientific & Industrial Research certified industry and a national research laboratory. (‘A’ rating given by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council of India).These recommendations will be taken forward by the DST Centre for Policy Research and will be submitted to Government of India officials for helping to prepare a national policy on bridging the gap between public and private sector research.  Our presentations informed the discussion and I hope created the opportunities for more collaborations between industry and academia in both countries.

About Shivani Sharma

Shivani Sharma is a Senior Adviser with Science and Innovation Network Team, based out of British High Commission New Delhi. She leads on Science and Innovation Policy, Oceans and STEMM.…

Shivani Sharma is a Senior Adviser with Science and Innovation Network Team, based out of British High Commission New Delhi. She leads on Science and Innovation Policy, Oceans and STEMM. Previous to this role she was Knowledge Economy Adviser based in the British Deputy High Commission Chandigarh where she led on Healthcare, Skill & Education and Science & Innovation. She has also worked as Deputy Director with Federation of Indian Export Organisations, New Delhi, undertaking primary research based studies for Ministry of Commerce, Government of India. While working with leading Chamber Confederation of Indian Industry, she had close interaction with industries based in North India and State Government, especially with Himachal Pradesh.

She has 12 years of experience in liasoning and networking with various sector leaders, be it in academia, life sciences, IT, Textiles, engineering etc. Shivani is an MBA from Institute of Marketing & Management, New Delhi and an Economics Graduate from Delhi University.

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