Roadmap to increase financial resources for R&D discussed

The roadmap and way forward to increase financial resources for R&D by enhancing private sector contribution to STI and developing collaborative funding mechanisms was discussed at the Center-State Science Conclave on September 11, 2022.

“We need to increase investment in research, translational research and facilitate commercialization. These can be accelerated through the private sector,” said Infosys co-founder Dr. Kris Gopalakrishnan during the Conclave panel on doubling private sector investment in R&D.

He emphasized financial support for the creation, dissemination and application of knowledge and highlighted the role of structures, co-location of industry and academia, as well as incentives such as tax breaks . “At least 1% of industry CSR should be spent on solving current issues such as drinking water, cancer, antimicrobial resistance, as well as unresolved future issues.

Dr. Akhilesh Gupta, Senior Advisor, Department of Science and Technology (DST), highlighted incentives such as reinstating R&D tax deduction, philanthropic funding and creating an environment for FDI to encourage private investment in research.

He highlighted the need for innovation in MSMEs, expanding the scope of models such as the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Board (BIRAC), the Technology Development Board (TDB), the cluster model involving co-location of industry and academia, as well as measures such as industry returning government-funded products to government to promote private sector participation in research.

He pointed out that with 100% FDI allowed in research, some states like Karnataka have aggressively attracted FDI in R&D, and other states can emulate such examples.

Dr. Taslimarif Saiyed, Managing Director of C-CAMP, Bengaluru, spoke about India’s positioning as an emerging leader in the world of biotech start-ups and the growing value of the country’s biotech industry.

He highlighted the need for mid-term funding for start-ups and collaborations with venture capital (VC) and industry. “Models, where VCs and industry can partner with government, including state governments, to quickly come to fruition at scale, should be encouraged,” he added.

“With health becoming increasingly important globally, as well as agriculture and climate, the importance of the biotechnology sector is growing, and early funding for deep science and technology could help capture this opportunity,” he said.

“Experimentation is needed with STI governance policies inspired by successful grassroots implementation models,” Smt. Mugdha Sinha, Principal Secretary (S&T), Government of Rajasthan, presented.

“Science should be seen as a service provider for all departments – an interphase connecting the dots, and decision-makers should be exposed to what science entails. Tier 2 industries that require government handover should be identified,” she added.

Professor Amit Prashant, Director of IIT Gandhinagar, focused on strengthening the bridge between research organizations and industry through collaborations with translational research.

The conclave panel organized by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, jointly with the Government of Gujarat at Science City, Ahmedabad, served as a platform for exchanging ideas on financing mechanisms to enhance investment in R&D.

Louis R. Hancock