I shall introduce the ‘Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, 2013’ (“STI Policy, 2013”) which was recently unveiled by the Prime Minister at the 100th Indian Science Congress. I shall analyse the STI Policy, 2013 in a later post. [The STI Policy, 2013 is available here.]
The STI Policy, 2013 sets out a significant shift in approach of the government. It is pertinent to take a quick look at the previous policies:
a) Scientific Policy Resolution of 1958 (“SPR, 1958”)
The SPR, 1958 resolved to “foster, promote and sustain” the “cultivation of science and scientific research in all its aspects”. It was assumed that the technology would “flow” from the country’s established science infrastructure.b) Technology Policy Statement of 1983 (“TPS, 1983”)
The TPS, 1983 emphasized on the need to attain technological competence and self-reliance.
) c) Science and Technology Policy of 2003
As evident from the title of the policy, it marked a shift from the earlier policies. It addressed science and technology together. It emphasized on Research and Development ("R&D") for addressing national problems. It called for integrating programmes of socio-economic sectors with the national R&D system. It also articulated upon the need for technological innovation and creation of a national innovation system.
“People for science and science for people”
The STI Policy, 2013 encapsulates a novel approach towards the science, technology and innovation framework in India. The policy comes in the light of the realization that treating innovation and S&T as two disconnected realms was a serious lacuna especially when the former already assumed centre stage in the developmental goals of countries around the world. The STI Policy, 2013 recognizes the synergistic linkages among them. Further, it is significant to vertically integrate all dimensions of STI into the socio-economic processes. The policy seeks to “focus on both people for science and science for people”.
“Science and technology for people”
“Science and technology for the people” is the motto of STI Policy, 2013. It envisages ‘inclusive innovation’ viz., Indian society emerging as a major stake holder in the national STI system. “The policy will thus drive both investment in science and investment of science-led technology and innovation in agriculture, manufacturing and services that lead to socio-economic benefits to a wide cross section of society. Emphasis will be laid on bridging the gaps between knowledge and the economic sectors. The STI policy would develop symbiotic relationship with economic and other policies.”
The STI Policy, 2013 inter alia aspires to:
- promote scientific temper;
- make careers in science, research and innovation attractive;
- establish world class R&D infrastructure for gaining global leadership in some select frontier areas of science;
- position India among the top five global scientific powers by 2020
- facilitate S&T-based high-risk innovations through new mechanisms; and
- trigger changes in the mindset and value systems to recognize, respect and reward performances which create wealth from S&T derived knowledge.
Investment in R&D
The policy notes that India’s R&D investment is less than 2.5% of the global investments. It has been under 1% of the GDP. It observes that increasing Gross Expenditure in Research and Development (GERD) to 2% of the GDP has been a national goal for some time. Achieving the aforesaid target in the next five years is realizable provided the private sector matches India’s public investment and the ratio of public to private sector investments in R&D improves from the current 3:1 to 1:1 within the next five years.
Attracting Private Sector Investments in R&D
The policy notes that supply side interventions have hitherto been the main strategy for public investment in R&D. The policy calls for equal emphasis on both supply side interventions and demand based investments. While public investments in R&D shall maintain the current rates of growth, private investment has to increase significantly for translating R&D outputs into commercial outcomes.
The STI Policy, 2013 sets out a new initiative - Public Private Partnership (PPP). A National Science, Technology and Innovation Foundation will be established as a PPP for investing critical levels of resources for innovative and ambitious projects.
The STI Policy, 2013 shall focus on:
- facilitating private sector investment in R&D centres in India and overseas;
- permitting multi stakeholders’ participation in the Indian R&D system;
- treating R&D in the private sector at par with public institutions for availing public funds;
- bench marking of R&D funding mechanisms and patterns globally;
- aligning Venture Capital and Inclusion Innovation Fund systems;
- modifying IPR policy to provide for marching rights for social good when supported by public funds and for co-sharing IPRs generated under PPP;
- exploring newer mechanisms for fostering Technology Business Incubators (TBIs) and science-led entrepreneurship; and
- providing incentives for commercialization of innovations with focus on green manufacturing.
Partnerships among Stake holders for Scaling Successes of R&D
The STI Policy, 2013 calls for special and innovative mechanisms for leveraging academia-research-industry partnerships. Further, the policy intends to put in place regulatory and legal framework for sharing of IPRs between inventors and investors and for closing gaps in the translation of new findings into the commercial space. The policy will inter alia focus on: a) promoting innovations through mechanisms including “Small Idea-Small Money” and “Risky Idea Fund” to support innovation incubators and b) supporting STI driven entrepreneurship with high scaling coefficients and viable business models.