Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pitch for a ‘start-up India’ campaign has revived the ‘research parks’ initiative mooted by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development.
Barring IIT Madras, which has been successfully managing a research park that has incubated many start-ups, not many institutions across the country have been able to get their research parks off the ground, despite the allocation of incubation fund for 100 institutions announced by the UPA government.
According to sources in the government, the MHRD has proposed an initial investment of Rs.100 crore starting the next financial year to revive the research park initiative.
“The idea is to redefine business. These research parks will foster the start-ups by students and former students, after a panel of experts evaluates them. They will handhold them through the legal and logistical process and help them with formalities like registering their companies,” said a senior official.
Initially, 50 research parks will be set up; 16 in IITs, 14 in IIMs and 20 in NITs. Discussions between the HRD Ministry and the departments of Science and Technology and the Biotechnology are under way to work out a plan for the implementation of the projects. Incubators in 17 institutions will also be upgraded to research parks.
In 2013, IIT Kharagpur and IIT Bombay had proposed setting up research parks for technology development projects for the industry.
Emphasis on growth
With the emphasis on economic growth, production in India through the ‘Make in India’ campaign, the Ministry sees the research parks as an important linkage between academia and industry; with the incubated start-ups filling the vacuum and meeting the requirements of industry.
The Ministry has also underlined the need to link research with industry, making it a precondition for institutions like the IITs and IIMs to partner with industry to invest in research.
A senior official explained there is as much as Rs. 250 crore earmarked for research, but it comes with the rider that the end product should encourage patenting and give a fillip to the manufacturing side of the economy.
To begin with, 50 will be set up in premier educational institutions