Govt develops schemes for more industry, academia interaction

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India's Ministry of Information Technology is working on two schemes to increase interaction between industry and top educational institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institutes of Management and help these institutions scale up start-ups incubated by them in an effort to bridge the gap between academic research and commercial use of technology.
While the so-called Multiplier Grants scheme, or Srrijan: Prithvi, aims to increase collaboration between industry and academia, the Technology Incubation and Development of Entrepreneurs (TIDE) scheme aims to help foster entrepreneurship in institutes such as IITs and IIMs. Both are part of a larger hardware manufacturing policy the ministry is working on that will push India's cause as a hardware hub. Research, especially of the sort that can be successfully taken to market, is a key constituent of the manufacturing ecosystem.

Last week, the government approved the creation of information technology investment regions, or ITIRs, that are meant to be dedicated electronics clusters. In November, the Ministry of Information Technology had announced the 'Support International Patent Protection in Electronics and IT (SIP-EIT)' programme under which small and medium enterprises and start-ups in the IT business will be reimbursed costs incurred in filing international patent applications.

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'TIDE has been internally approved by the Ministry of Information Technology and will be launched for premier institutes later this month and the Multiplier Grants scheme is in the process of going through internal approvals and will be ready within a couple of months,' said a senior government official who did not want to be identified.

Supporting innovation

In the Multiplier Grants scheme, the government commits double the amount committed by a company for a research project in a educational institute, thereby absorbing the bulk of the risk involved in research and development.

However, under the terms of the scheme, the proposal should come from the company or a consortium of companies and must be submitted to the government along with an institution. The government's grant under the scheme is capped at INR2 crore over two years when one company is involved and INR4 crore over three years when a consortium is involved.

TIDE seeks to promote product-oriented research, and each educational institute will be given financial support of up to INR1.55 crore payable in instalments. Of this, INR30 lakh can be utilised by the institute's incubation centre to improve infrastructure and INR1.25 crore be shared among various start-ups with each getting a maximum of INR25 lakh.

The founder of one company that was incubated at IIT-Delhi said the money would help.
'Marketing is a bit of a problem both in terms of finances and competence and we don't know how to go about it, so this scheme will be helpful. However, INR25 lakh per company is okay but not enough. One needs at least INR70-80 lakh to do a decent marketing pitch, but that again depends on each product,' said Shishir Kumar Gupta, chief executive officer of Mechart

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