Calls for more public-private partnerships in research on a visit to RGCB

Enterprising students should be encouraged to take up research in basic science and contribute more to the welfare of society, Union Minister for Science and Technology Vilasrao Deshmukh has said.

Mr. Deshmukh, who was in the city on Tuesday, was talking to The Hindu after visiting the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology here.

He said the proposed Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was envisaged as a world-class facility for the promotion of research in frontier areas of science and technology.

“We are creating excellent research facilities because we want our students to remain here and utilise their innovative research skills for the good of the country,” Mr. Deshmukh said. “Our scientists are now working in the 37 labs of CSIR across the country but their doctoral degrees are granted by various universities. Once the academy is set up, all research students can register under the academy which will award the doctoral degrees. It will also enable the networking of all CSIR labs and sharing of faculty,” he said.

The Bill for setting up the academy had been approved by the Lok Sabha and was expected to be placed before the Rajya Sabha during the winter session, he said.

The proposed academy, Mr. Deshmukh hoped, would be an incentive for students to take up research in basic science as all scientific institutions faced an acute shortage of manpower.

“The CSIR is producing only 300 to 500 Ph.Ds in a year. We are looking at producing 10,000 doctoral degree holders in the next 10 years,” he said.

“Research should not remain within four walls and should touch the lives of ordinary people. The fruits of scientific research should ultimately benefit society. I want our scientists to coordinate with the industry and interact more closely and openly with them so that the patented research can result in commercial technology,” Mr. Deshmukh said.

He said the Ministry was looking at more public-private partnerships in research. Mr. Deshmukh pointed to the successful collaboration between the Bangalore-based National Aerospace Laboratories, a constituent laboratory of the CSIR, and Mahindra Aerospace of the Mahindra Group that had resulted in the production of C-NM5, a five-seater aircraft.

Mr. Deshmukh said he was very impressed by the facilities at the RGCB and the various research programmes here.

After discussions with RGCB Director Radhakrishna Pillai, he was taken around the Central Instrumentation Lab, Plant Biology lab, and Cardiovascular Disease biology lab here.

In a brief address to the students, he said the Centre had sanctioned Rs.100 crore for setting up the second campus of the RGCB.