Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India Professor Ajay Kumar Sood Chaired the first joint Science and Technology (S&T) Clusters’ Meet held on October 26-27, 2023 in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. The meeting was organised by the Jodhpur City Knowledge and Innovation Foundation (JCKIF) and hosted by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Jodhpur.
Launched in 2020, the City S&T Clusters is a flagship initiative of the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, established on the recommendation of the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC). This initiative aims to tackle local challenges through S&T interventions by bringing together academia, R&D institutions, industries, startups and local governments. Currently, there are seven S&T clusters operating in Bengaluru, Bhubaneswar, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jodhpur, Pune, and the recently established Northern Region Cluster in Chandigarh, all working together to find solutions to regional issues through collaborative efforts.
In his keynote address, Professor Sood highlighted that the S&T clusters are a unique initiative of the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, focusing on the translational aspects of research. While noting the collective strength of the clusters, he highlighted their potential to address regional challenges through synergistic S&T interventions. He hoped that with the Clusters coming together in this Joint Clusters’ Meet, more cross collaborating projects that are interdisciplinary and aligned with the national priorities will be taken up. However, he emphasized on the need for the clusters sustainability in the long-run and therefore it is important that each cluster works towards their sustainability plan.
(PSA Prof. Sood delivering keynote address at the Joint S&T Clusters’ Meet)
Referring to the recently announced draft National Deep Tech Startup Policy, Professor Sood suggested that clusters could collaborate effectively with Deep Tech startups operating under this policy framework.
Dr. Parvinder Maini, Scientific Secretary, Office of Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, in her address said, “Clusters have ignited entrepreneurship and innovation across the globe and have helped in breaking the boundaries of institutions.” She highlighted the S&T clusters’ role as shared ecosystems and regional solution providers, while promoting competitiveness on both national and global scales. Dr. Maini emphasised the prominent role S&T clusters can play in boosting India’s Global Innovation Index (GII) and contributing to the global economy.
Further, Dr. Maini underlined the significance of the Joint S&T Clusters’ Meet as a platform for knowledge exchange, facilitating the sharing of best practices from established clusters to newer ones, and fostering an environment of mutual learning and growth among all clusters.
(Dr. Parvinder Maini, Scientific Secretary, Office of PSA delivering opening remarks at Joint S&T Clusters’ Meet)
The two-day meet witnessed in-depth discussions on identified themes and opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration among clusters. The themes included: Healthcare, Energy and Environment, Agritech and Nutrition, STEM Education, Livelihood through S&T, and NorthEast Impact & Industry 4.0.
On Day 1, joint presentations were made on four key themes by various S&T clusters. Ms. Rashmi Pimpale, CEO, Research and Innovation Circle of Hyderabad (RICH), Hyderabad delivered a presentation on the theme Healthcare. It was followed by a presentation on the theme Energy and Environment, delivered by Ms. Shipra Misra, CEO, Delhi Research Implementation and Innovation (DRIIV), Delhi. Subsequently, the next presentation on the theme Agritech & Nutrition was delivered by Mr. Ravi Tennety, COO, Bengaluru Science & Technology Cluster (BeST), Bengaluru. The final presentation for Day 1 on the theme of STEM Education was delivered by Dr. Priya Nagaraj, CEO, Pune Knowledge Cluster (PKC), Pune. The presentations collectively highlighted the collaborative strength of the clusters in these overlapping areas, underscoring their role in driving collaborative S&T initiatives within their respective regions.
Following the presentations, Professor Sood interacted with the faculty at IIT Jodhpur. He also inaugurated an exhibition titled ‘Kalaanubhav’ featuring an innovation gallery and livelihood support initiatives.
(PSA Prof. Sood along with Prof. Santanu Chaudhury, Director, IIT Jodhpur at the exhibition interacting with demonstrators)
Day 2 began with a joint presentation on the theme Livelihood through S&T, delivered by Dr. G. S. Toteja, CEO, JCKIF, Jodhpur. The final joint presentation was made on the theme NorthEast Impact & Industry 4.0, delivered by Dr. M. Suar, Chairman and Dr. N. Misra, CEO, Bhubaneswar City Knowledge Innovation Cluster (BCKIC), Bhubaneswar. Some of the key takeaways from Day 2 included discussions on active engagements of clusters in leveraging traditional art to create livelihoods and enhancing the value of products through online sale platforms. It was discussed that these efforts should be replicated in the Northeastern states through BCKIC.
In his closing remarks, Professor Sood reiterated the vital need for S&T clusters to work towards making themselves self-sustainable in the future. He emphasised that the Joint S&T Clusters’ Meet showcased the power of an interconnected ecosystem of scientists, engineers, and visionaries in driving innovation at an unprecedented pace. Professor Sood appreciated the diversity of thoughts among attendees and said, “It is clear that progress thrives on inclusivity and the willingness to embrace differing viewpoints.”
In the two-day meet, participants had the opportunity to witness technological innovations and breakthroughs, ranging from AI-driven solutions to sustainable energy initiatives. Students at IIT Jodhpur also presented cutting-edge technologies and research in the field of medical technology. Professor Sood also launched a healthcare compendium focusing on deployable technologies.
(PSA Prof. Sood launching healthcare compendium focusing on deployable technologies)
The event reinforced the potential of collaborative efforts of these clusters and showcased their commitment to driving positive change through science and technology.
(PSA Prof. Sood, Scientific Secretary Dr. Maini with participants of Joint S&T Clusters’ Meet at IIT Jodhpur Clock Tower)