R&D-industry-academia correlation must, says Prof Ashutosh Sharma

Through various such instances, he pointed out the hidden complexities of science in apparent simplicity of everyday instances in our environment.

pune Updated: Nov 19, 2017 15:14 IST
Ananya Barua
Ananya Barua
Hindustan Times, Pune
R&D-industry-academia correlation must,says Prof Ashutosh Sharma,Agharkar Research Institute
Students and visitors at the exhibition on biodiversity and palaeobiology organised by Agharkar Research Institute on its campus on Saturday.(Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)

Imagine the practical translation of a lotus leaf’s water repellent quality into print technology, or reversible adhesive properties of frogs and insects which can be used in the manufacturing industries.

These were the wonders of nature pointed out by professor Ashutosh Sharma, secretary, department of science and technology (DSK) during his lecture on ‘Navigating Scientific Complexity by Common Sense’ at the 57th Prof. SP Agharkar Memorial Oration, at the Agharkar Research Institute, Pune on Saturday.

Through various such instances, he pointed out the hidden complexities of science in apparent simplicity of everyday instances in our environment. Through his lecture, he elucidated how the fragmented knowledge of science can be used in an interdisciplinary way to solve real-life issues. With the aim to translate the transformative science and technology in enhancing transparent research and to make it accessible to the world, Sharma shared his plans of establishing research and development (R&D)-industry-academia correlation.

“We have set up 23 SAIF (sophisticated analytical instrument facilities) centres across the nation, which will make the needed infrastructure accessible to industries or institutions. They can access these technologies at a very reasonable cost. We are forming a central portal where one can locate these equipment, that have been supported by government and is available for use through a transparent channel.

Sharma said that the portal will be ready by January 2018.

Citing government support in the initiative to strengthen innovation, he said, “In the last two years, the budget for this has increased by 100 per cent. DST, in these 30 years, has supported 100 incubators, and the goal is to double the figure in four years. About 2,000 startups were incubated from these places, and our target is to incubate 5,000 startups soon.”

“The government’s plans also entail having one-third of students across major science and technology institutes to be women, for which the Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing (KIRAN) scheme has been launched. Under this, top 50,000 high-school girls from across boards will be trained to help them make a mark in the sector,” Sharma said.

During the interactive session, when asked about the March for Science held in August by major science and technology institutes, he said, “People have the right to protest, and it is inherent to a democracy. But one has to be reasonable at the same time. I’m not disagreeing to them, but the facts cannot be overlooked. The budget for DST has now gone up 100 per cent in the last three years, which is an unprecedented increase, and that is a fact.”

“During the march, it was also being said that ‘that non-scientific things’ are being supported but that is not true.

“Even the Panchagavya project has been misunderstood. It is a concoction of natural materials derived from the cattle and the scientific research is being encouraged for efficient use of those,” Sharma said.

First Published: Nov 19, 2017 15:14 IST