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Friday, March 28, 2014

DIPP discussion paper: Towards strong and meaningful university-industry collaboration and creation of sustainable competitive advantage in manufacturing - Missing links and way forward

The paper can downloaded from here.
Suggestions and recommendations made in this discussion paper are:
4.1.1 Targeted investments by Government in R&D projects of national importance over a reasonable horizon, say 5 years: 
4.1.2. Enactment of the Indian version of a law such as the one passed in Japan in 1998 for promoting the establishment of  technology licensing/ transfer organisations (TLOs) with authority to license some university inventions and to channel royalties back to the inventors, their laboratories and their universities.
4.1.3.Enabling stronger University-Industry collaboration through joint research and contract research in select universities.
4.1.4.Enactment of the Indian version of the Bayh Dole Act (passed in US in December, 1980) with a distinct Indian footprint which addresses the country’s concerns.
4.1.5.Introduction of utility model for promotion of incremental innovation, particularly in the SME sector.
4.1.6.Human resource development for strengthening the innovation eco-system.
4.1.7.Facilitating access of industry to environment friendly patents and other technology patents, particularly in manufacturing.

One wonders what is new in this. There is no shortage of reports in the country , the problem is not in diagnosis but in treatment. Some impulsive thoughts on these recommendations.

4.1.1. Targeted investment - who will do the targeting- Government departments , government funded labs? And industry role is limited to participation in high powered committees. One does not need committees to identify thrust areas, read Gartner reports or MIT reports or any other think tank. The question is what can government do thereafter. Government committees identifying thrust areas and government funded research institutes developing technologies in those thrust areas for transfer to commercial firms in old hat. The five year time frame is important but department approving a 5 year project would freeze all mile stones and output  prior to approval. The GFR and CAG would not be kind to mid term rethinking.
4.1.2. Incentives to Innovators. Technology Transfer Offices and incentives to innovators do exist in CSIR, IITs etc. NRDC  was started decades back, Intellectual Ventures is active in India and Government approved scientists/ researchers promoting technology ventures with their knowledge as sweat capital. The royalty earning of research institutes is so meager, forget about sharing windfall profits with inventors they cannot attend a meeting of AUTM without government support. 
4.1.3. industry-institute collaborative research: There are fiscal incentives and research grants made available to both institutes and industry. There is a ocean of literature on this- why incentives do not forge research links.
4.1.4. Indian version of Bayh Dole Act.- no recommendation on changes to be made to the proposed legislation other than a wish that it should be passed.
4.1.5, 4.1.6 and 4.1.6- Like 4.1.4 these are part of wish list.

conclusion: this paper has no substance of value, totally devoid of actionable recommendations.
Do you agree?

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