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Government Launches ‘IMPRINT India’. Will it spur research in India? – Part 1

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Government of India has launched the ‘IMPRINT India’ initiative, to develop a roadmap for research to solve major engineering and technology challenges in ten different domains. Each of these domains will be coordinated by an IIT or IISc. In this two part series, we look at the research scenario in India and how it compares with the world.

The Government of India launched the ‘IMPacting Research INnovation and Technology (IMPRINT) India’, a Pan-IIT and IISc joint initiative to develop a roadmap for research to solve major engineering and technology challenges in ten technology domains relevant to India. The idea of launching ‘IMPRINT India’ originated during the conference of Chairmen, Board of Governors and Directors of Indian Institutes of Technology in August, 2014.

What is IMPRINT India?

The objectives of IMPRINT India are to

  • Identify areas of immediate relevance to society requiring innovation
  • Direct scientific research into identified areas
  • Ensure higher funding support for research into these areas
  • Measure outcomes of the research effort with reference to impact on the standard of living in the rural/urban areas.

IMPRINT India will focus on ten themes with each to be coordinated by one IIT/IISc, namely

IMPRINT India will focus on Ten themes

There will be a project advisory committee (PAC) formed in the Department of Science & Technology and Rs 1000 crore would be made available in 2016-17 for the projects under this initiative.

Research in India

As per data available with the Ministry of Science & Technology, number of patent applications filed in India is gradually increasing. While 34287 applications were filed in 2009-10, this number has gone up to 42951 in 2013-14, a growth of more than 25%. The number of patents granted though is on the decline. While one patent was granted for every six applications in 2009-10, this ratio has gone down to one patent grant for every ten applications.

Number of patent applications in india

Patent Applications & Grants by Indians

Surprisingly, the percentage of patents granted to Indians out of the total patents granted has been on the decline. From 28% in 2009-10, it has come down to 15% in 2013-14, a decline of more than 45%. The rest of the patents are granted to others in India. This is particularly alarming because the number of patent applications filed by Indians has been rising at the same time from 20% in 2011-12 to 25% in 2013-14.

percentage of patents granted in india

How is the Government helping the Innovators?

National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) is facilitating the individual innovators for commercializing their inventions. So far NRDC has licensed 18 patented technologies to about 85 companies in India and has generated a substantial amount of revenue in past several years. This facility can be accessed by all the innovators for commercialization of inventions /technologies in the country.

Besides that, Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) a not-for-profit Public Sector Enterprise, set up by Department of Biotechnology (DBT), has commercialized 3 Intellectual Properties (IP’s) in the area of drugs, formulation and diagnostics and the products are in the market.

What about Small Organizations & Individuals?

Various Ministries & Departments of the Government have been implementing programs to enable filing patents & safeguarding their IPR.

  • Department of Science and Technology is implementing a Patent Facilitation Programme since 1995 under which scientists/ technologists / academicians from academic sector are facilitated for the safeguarding their Intellectual Property Rights (IPR’s) free of cost
  • Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) is implementing the Patent Acquisition and Collaborative Research and Technology Development (PACE) to facilitate industries, particularly Small and Medium Enterprises(SMEs) in acquisitions of patented technologies.
  • DSIR has also launched PRISM (Promoting Innovations in Individual innovators, Start ups and MSMEs) during 12th Plan (2012-17) to extend financial support to individual innovators for converting their innovative ideas in to functional models/ prototypes.
  • BIRAC has been implementing a “Patent Assistance Scheme” (PAS) that provides financial assistance for Intellectual Property Protection emerging from the projects supported by BIRAC.
  • Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DietY) is providing support towards filing IPR applications by DeitY scientists, societies/organizations and grantee institutes. DeitY also has a Scheme to Support International Patent Protection in Electronics & IT by small industries and Technology Start-Up Companies.
  • Ministry of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) is implementing a scheme “Building Awareness Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) for MSME’s under National Manufacturing Competitiveness Programmes to help Micro Small and Medium Enterprises in getting patents and others IPRs.

In Part 2 of this series, we will look at India’s standing in the world among BRICS nations and the USA.

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