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India's technology policy calls for greater R&D collaboration

India’s newly published Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy (STIP) has called for closer collaboration between state agencies and the private sector in undertaking research and development (R&D) of defence and space technologies.

The draft STIP – issued this month by India’s Ministry of Science and Technology – is aimed at supporting India’s efforts to enhance indigenous capability and reduce dependency on foreign technologies.

The policy states as one of its objectives the requirement to “achieve technological self-reliance and position India among the top three scientific superpowers in the decade to come”. The STIP states that the effort to build local R&D capability has accelerated in the wake of Covid-19.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has provided a compelling opportunity for R&D institutions, academia, and industry to work in unison,” said the draft policy. “The new STIP aims to bring about profound changes through short-term, medium-term, and long-term projects by building a nurtured ecosystem that promotes research and innovation.”

In defence, the STIP said greater private-sector industry involvement is necessary to boost capability in an activity that has traditionally been dominated by the state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

“Strategic sectors will be extended beyond government departments to higher education institutes and private sectors to enhance innovation,” said the policy. “Departments [such as] the … Department of Space (DOS) and DRDO will be tasked to undertake certain developments only with industry and academic partners.”

The STIP added that in defence and space the involvement of academia and the private sector should be supported through “protection clauses” that will “enhance the nation’s growth and avoid dependence on other nations”. It also said that the DRDO will be tasked to identify projects that it can co-operate on with private-sector companies and universities.

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