By Amit Agnihotri
New Delhi: Taking their bilateral cooperation in science and technology to a new level, India and Russia have decided to fund joint development of cutting edge technologies in areas like Information Technology, Artificial Intelligence, Pharmaceuticals, Renewable Energy, Aerospace, Alternative Technologies, Environment, New Materials, Bio-technology, Robotics and Drones.
All this will be realised through the India-Russia Joint Technology Assessment and Accelerated Commercialisation Programme, launched on July 23. As per the plan, small and medium enterprises and startups of the two countries will be provided funds up to Rs 15 crore ($2 million) to work towards joint research and development of new technology and its cross-country adaptation.
Science- and technology-led innovation and entrepreneurship are priority areas for both the countries and will be a key point on the agenda of Russian President Vladimir Putin when he visits India later this year.
“There is a history of scientific cooperation between the countries, and with this initiative; we take the next step of commercialization,” India’s Ambassador to the Russian Federation D. B. Venkatesh Varma said.
“India has one of the largest startup ecosystems in the world, the number of unicorns is testament to the tremendous talent the country possesses.”
India’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) has partnered with the Foundation for Assistance to Small Innovative Enterprises (FASIE) of the Russian Federation to initially offer a grant of up to Rs 15 crore each to around 10 startups over the next two years. The teams will be selected through a competitive process.
In addition to financial support, the Research and Development teams will also be supported through capacity building, mentorship and business development.
Cooperation between the two countries in science and technology has existed for decades and has resulted in knowledge generation, proto-type development and institution build up.
However, there was a need to convert knowledge into products. The joint programme will fill this gap and connect Indian and Russian scientific production houses, researchers and entrepreneurs in addressing the challenges being faced by society not only in the two countries but globally.
For India’s Department of Science and Technology Secretary Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, the new initiative is very timely as it allows the country to “leverage joint intellectual and financial resources to develop technologies that would provide the solutions for tomorrow.”
Officials said as per the project, a detailed matchmaking process will be implemented to create sustainable joint technology ventures for market-ready technology-based solutions, products and services; with the potential to scale in India, Russia as well as other countries.
The other benefits to the teams would include one-to-one mentoring by Indian and Russian experts, technology transfer guidance and hand holding support to the Indian entrepreneurs and an opportunity to showcase innovations at a technology expo attended by high-level government dignitaries and global industry leaders.
FASIE General Director Sergey Polyakov acknowledged Russia is aware of the knowledge and expertise India has in the field of science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, and noted that his country is happy to partner with the South Asian country. “We hope the innovations and technologies supported through this programme will help us face and overcome the challenges in the new normal,” he said.
On behalf of DST, one of India’s leading business associations — the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) — will implement the programme in the country. FICCI Secretary-General Dilip Chenoy expressed the hope that such collaborations would help both the countries move towards economic revival and sustainable growth.