Partnership of ideas (IE)
Digitisation provides an opportunity to strengthen industry-academia ties.
The new challenge will be to motivate young minds to innovate, especially in keeping with the demands of industry. This brings collaboration to the forefront
With the new age economy powered by digitisation and disruptive technologies, the industry-academia relationship is undergoing a rapid transformation.
- Incubators & Accelerators
As we move to multidisciplinary job roles, corporates now support incubators and accelerators instead of grants to academic research
One of the best examples in India is the Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE), supported by the Centre, state governments and industry, to promote innovation.
Also, post-recruitment on-the-job training is giving way to apprenticeship for hands-on training.
The government’s recent drive to enhance the scope and scale of apprenticeship through the NAPS (National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme) is a step in the right direction.
A Long way to go still
- Other than a few islands of excellence (mostly IITs and IISc), research in India degenerates into academic sloth with little encouragement from industry or government
- In terms of funding, industry contribution to research even at the IITs is, at 10-15 per cent, far below global standards
- Effect: In the absence of an active interface between industry and academia, the chances of innovative ideas being absorbed for commercial exploitation are low
This impacts the country’s global competitiveness and its place in the global knowledge economy.
Four Pronged Approach needed
India needs to achieve global standards in universities’ governance
- Universities need to be given academic, administrative and financial autonomy to evolve as functional ecosystems of research, innovation and entrepreneurship
- It is extremely important to harness the budding entrepreneurial energy of students for greater socio-economic development
- The autonomy door shall also open much more space for innovative industrial tie-ups.
Breadth of research collaborations needs to expand to cover a respectable percentage of the total institutions
- At least 100 institutions should be actively engaged as “research” institutions, up from the current 10 (mostly IITs and IISc)
- Funding on merit: One way to enable such an expansion is to open research funding to all eligible institutions on merit instead of limiting all public funding to government institutions. States should chip in: Individual states have to evolve their own vision so that some state universities are prepared to take on sector-specific research complementing their industrial clusters
Apprenticeship needs to catch up
- India has only 30,000 enterprises registered for taking apprentices compared to Germany which has more than 2,00,000 enterprises for apprentices. The apprenticeship drive is an effective means of promoting industry academia collaboration.
- Early Start Needed
The spirit of research and innovation needs to be inculcated at an early age at the school level to build a strong base for illuminated industrial minds
- Tinkering Labs: The setting up of “tinkering” labs at 1,000 schools under the Atal Innovation Mission through the efforts of the government and the private sector is an excellent initiative in this regard.
- Scaling up needed: However, we need to scale-up such initiatives a thousand times more to create a great impact
China, for instance, has installed 3D printers in all its elementary schools to prepare a generation adept at using next-generation technology.
Quantum increase in funding to research needed
India commits just 0.8 per cent of its GDP in PPP terms to research compared to 2.7 per cent, 2.9 per cent and 2.1 per cent by innovation hubs like the US, Germany and aspiring powers like China
The PM’s recent announcement to provide Rs 10,000 crore to top 20 public and private universities over the next five years to make them world class research universities is an excellent initiative
Monetising intellectual property at Universities
In terms of funding support from industry, India’s average industry income per academic is less than one-fourth of the top performing countries — Germany, the US and China
This can be addressed by promoting a culture of monetising intellectual property at our universities
Multiple academic and socio-economic objectives can be targeted through this partnership
The culture of industry and technology can best be harnessed at the university level which can seamlessly create a fusion of ideas. We must not miss the bus this time.