Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology (DST),Government of India, has underlined the need for grass root solutions to the economic and societal problems and called for frugal innovations while maintaining their functionality, quality and accessibility.
Addressing the session on ‘Building Ecosystem: Government as a key enabler’ on day two of the ‘Global R&D Summit 2015’ on the theme, ‘Leveraging international cooperation to boost Indian innovation ecosystem’ organized by FICCI with the support of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, Prof. Sharma said that innovation should not be seen in isolation but as a chain of structures and events beginning from scouting of ideas, start-ups and supporting and scaling them up for public good in areas such as education and healthcare. He said R&D infrastructure, education and a cultural ethos were the key long term enablers of a sustainable innovation ecosystem.
Making a distinction between science and innovation, Prof. Sharma said, while “science is global, innovation is local”. Through a new programme called ‘INSPIRE’, DST was proposing to reach out to five lakh school children all over the country to generate 15 lakh innovative ideas and eventually zeroing on 1000 such innovations that would then be converted into prototypes.
The Secretary said that the two most important attributes that give rise to innovation are the ability to take risks and be tolerant towards failure and the challenge today is to solve the problems related to healthcare, IT, smart cities, manufacturing, security and defence etc. The road ahead, he added, was commercialization of innovation and the ‘mantra’ was the need to connect with the ministries and departments, academia and industry, businesses and R&D institutions and between the Centre and States.
Dr. Chander Shekhar, Head innovation & Translational Research, Child Health – Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), pointed out that ICMR had moved beyond pure biomedical research to
disease-specific research and the Council was now in a position to assist potential entrepreneur in biomedical and healthcare research.
S Radhakrishnan, Director, Directorate of Industry Interface & Technology Management, DRDO, said that DRDO would like all ‘non-sensitive’ patents developed by it to occupy the commercial space and it was imperative for industry to customize innovation to meets its needs.
Prof. (Dr.) M.C. Mishra, Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, gave an overview of healthcare research and innovation and stressed the need for affordable, accessible and quality healthcare delivery. Giving examples of low cost innovations, he said there was ample scope for developing diagnostic equipment and vaccine for dengue.
Somesh Arora, former Commissioner of Customs, Excise & Service Tax, shared his perspective on fiscal management of R&D and pointed out that in the proposed GST regime, it was reasonable to expect tax incentives for R&D and procedural compliance.