IITs looking for corporate funding for research projects

The Indian Institutes of Technology are looking towards big corporate firms for funding their research projects. The shift comes as IITs want to decrease their dependence on government research grants.

Talking about the shift, Professor Rangan Banerjee, Dean of R&D at IIT Bombay said, “Although our research is funded predominantly by the government, the funds from the industry are growing much faster and we are focusing on that. We want to have to have a broader linkage with the industry.” The research fund at IIT-Delhi has increased to 180 crore from 100 crore last year out of which only 22 crore came from the private industry.

On the other hand, IIT Kharagpur’s research fund has been hovering between 120 and 170 crore for the last five years, but the institute expects the number to grow. It has attracted 120 crore funding from Damodar Valley Corporation to carry out advanced research in power technology. “We are making concentrated efforts to make IIT Kharagpur a hub for innovation. We want to promote interdisciplinary research at IIT. If we are able to take on our problems and try to solve them, it will bring out immense learning,” said Professor Chakraborty, dean of Sponsored Research and Industrial Consultancy (SRIC) at the institute.

IIT Madras too is expecting to increase its research fund to 200 crore this year from 150 crore in the last financial year. The institute has already clocked in 120 crore this year.

“The idea is to be in the forefront and not lag behind. Efforts like these give us more exposure and help in competing with the universities abroad,” said Prof. SN Singh, Dean, Industrial Research and Development at IIT Delhi.

Patent filing is also beginning to gain as much importance as research itself. IIT Bombay for instance, looks for patent-worthy ideas from thesis and dissertations submitted by graduate students. The spurt of activity happening on the licensing side is giving fillip for the IITs to push research further. IIT Bombay received around 24 crores of licensing revenue this financial year.

In comparison with the universities abroad, the R&D work done in India may not fare well but there have been significant improvement. “The IITs are changing for good. There is significant growth in the funds. But they still don’t get enough PhD students although the PhD scholarships are okay. But things are definitely improving,” said Prof. S Sadagopan, founder and director, International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore.

[Source: Economic Times]

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