Innovation Ecosystem in India

Importance of the post academic research

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Issue of Research and Development in India

Post-academic research have a direct bearing on national development. India needs to focus on it along with academic research. This article explains this issue.

Context

  • The Government of India is in the process of revisiting the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy.
  • At this stage we need to ponder the question: what kind of research should be funded?

How to measure the maturity level of a particular technology?

  • Experts have come up with frameworks and terminology to provide a comprehensive picture and avoid any value judgement.
  • One approach was proposed by NASA in the form of Technology Readiness Levels (TRL).
  • TRL-1 corresponds to observation of basic principles. Its result is publications.
  • TRL-2 corresponds to formulation of technology at the level of concepts.
  • Then the TRL framework advances to proof of concept, validation in a laboratory environment, followed by a relevant environment, and then to prototype demonstration, and ending with actual deployment.
  • An alternative is to use the terminology ‘Academic Research (AR)’, and ‘Post-Academic Research (PAR)’.
  • To provide some granularity, one can divide PAR into early-stage PAR, and late-stage PAR.
  • Late-stage PAR has to be done by large laboratories (national or those supported by industry).
  • AR and early-stage PAR can be done at higher education institutions and large laboratories.

Importance of Post-Academic Research(PAR)

  • From the perspective of national development, pursuit of AR alone, while necessary, is not sufficient.
  • AR and PAR, when pursued together and taken to their logical conclusion, will result in a product or a process,
  • Or it can also result in a better clinical practice, or a scientifically robust understanding of human health and disease, or provide inputs for a policy decision.

Issues in comparing investment in research among countries

  • 1) We cannot compare data with other countries without having correspondence between India’s data and data reported by others.
  • Countries belonging to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report research statistics according to the Frascati Manual.
  • 2) India has to decide where to increase investment: in AR or in PAR.

Research and national development

  • Investment in research can translate into national development only through pursuit of PAR.
  • Our industry has not reached a stage where they can absorb research being done by higher education institutions.
  • This reveals that research being pursued is either not addressing national needs or is limited to AR.

Way forward

  • Judging the growth of Science-and-Technology based only on publications (e.g. research papers) provides an incomplete picture.
  • We should increasing the technology intensity of industry, which was identified as one of the goals of the STI policy issued in 2013.
  • This needs reiteration and a mechanism should be devised to monitor progress with the objective of becoming an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.
  • The STI policy should emphasise PAR to ensure that investment in research results in economic growth.
  • To motivate the research community to pursue at least early-stage PAR, the reward system needs significant reorientation.
  • Academics in higher education institutions pursuing AR should pursue early-stage PAR themselves, or team up with those who are keen to pursue PAR.

Consider the question “Examine the factors that responsible for the lack of research and development in India? Also, elaborate on the importance of post-academic research in the country.”

Conclusion

These factors are sufficient to indicate that academic research is necessary, but not sufficient and we must focus on PAR adequately.

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