Education

Critical collaborations

Industry gains work-ready talent with specialist knowledge and practical training, and universities benefit by having opportunities to work on relevant technologies and challenging problems   | Photo Credit: Pixabay

Collaboration between industry and academia is key to catalyse innovation and growth in technology. While industry often focuses on addressing solutions that are of near-term commercial value and academia focuses on building new knowledge through research and imparting education to students, the combination can yield accelerated development of new breakthroughs.

Industry partnerships are instrumental in advancing research and creating a skilled workforce. Industry gains work-ready talent with specialist knowledge and practical training, and universities benefit by having opportunities to work on relevant technologies and challenging problems. As India ushers in the era of digitisation, it is in the enviable position of having a young tech-savvy population ready to apply its learnings in key fields such as AI and Big Data to solve major challenges facing critical industries like healthcare and energy.

Invest in R&D

The Framework of Industry-University Linkage in Research — released in 2019 by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India — found that though industry and academia work in tandem, the lack of a clear policy is preventing optimum co-operation. The report determined that a strong industry-academia collaboration with a focus on innovative ideas and R&D investment can help increase research capacity, and enrolments in Ph.D programmes.

Premier institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology are now establishing world-class research parks — some of which are supported and funded by industry partners — that can provide a dedicated space for research. Deep technology-focused start-ups have been incubated at these research parks and their success has been the result of the collaboration with industry and proximity to academia.

Based on the success of the research parks at IIT-Madras and IIT-Bombay, the Government of India has announced the establishment of five new research parks at IIT-Delhi, IIT-Kanpur, IIT-Hyderabad, IIT-Guwahati and the Indian Institute of Science-Bengaluru to increase the momentum.

An example of this model of collaboration between the government, industry and academia is the approach to tackling the spread of COVID-19. From testing kits to tracking apps, ventilators to vaccine development, the journey from R&D to commercialisation happened faster than ever seen before.

As we usher in the next decade of emerging technologies, fundamental changes will take place in healthcare with personalised medicine, digitisation of the economy and society with AI and high-performance computing, and transportation with the shift towards electric vehicles. These will require solutions that can be deployed sustainably in India. Therefore, industry-academia collaborations with an enabling government framework will be critical to innovate and commercialise these solutions.

The writer is India CTO, Applied Materials India

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 8:57:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/partnerships-between-industry-and-academia-will-be-instrumental-to-advancing-research-and-knowledge-and-creating-a-skilled-workforce/article33702484.ece

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