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Quantum leap in top IITs in sponsored research

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The Economic Times
10th October, 2019 10:38 IST

NEW DELHI: Sponsored research has seen a quantum leap at the top Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) with IIT-Madras and Delhi recording a 394% and 300% growth in last five years respectively. In fact, IIT Madras became the first IIT ever to cross the Rs 500 crore mark for sponsored research, earning a total of Rs 536.54 crore worth of projects in the financial year 2018-19. IIT Delhi, Guwahati and Bombay also recorded over Rs 300 crore earnings through industry research.

IIT-Madras’ sponsored research funding was Rs 108.49 crore in 2014-15 which has gone up to Rs 536.54 crore in 2018-19 showing a steady growth of 10-15% annually. Having already earned the highest ever annual sponsored research funding in 2018-19, the IIT is expecting a growth of 15% to 20% in the current financial year. Sponsored projects include funding from industries as well as government agencies.

“We had been giving thrust to translation research —idea to product. One such manifestation is the IIT-Madras research park, the first of its kind. That basically focused our research towards the need of industry and society,” said Prof V Kamakoti, associate dean, IIT-M.

Having recently acquired the Institution of Eminence (IoE) tag, IITBombay, IIT-Delhi and IITMadras hope to significantly increase their share of sponsored research projects. IITs like Kharagpur, Bombay and Madras saw growth double in last five years in consultancy projects too.

IIT-B witnessed a surge in their funding receipts in 2016-17, and the flow remained steady. Post the IoE tag it is expecting increased funding from government agencies, some of which has already been released in the current year.

Milind Atrey, dean (research and development), IIT-B, said that the institute gives seed funding to the new faculty and additional funds in select cases. “The faculty is then expected to support the research with funding from external agencies after a stipulated period,” he said.

“I see a positive growth in the number of industries visiting the institute in recent years, and about 30-40% of these results in some kind of collaboration,” added Atrey.

All the leading IITs are also part of projects launched by the Centre. “The Centre is now looking at releasing multi-institutional funding, where two or more IITs can collaborate with an industry, to make optimum use of their specialisations,” said Atrey.

A majority of the funding comes in these institutes through faculty research — from industries or government agencies — and considering the three larger IITs have more than 650 faculty members on their board, the funding they receive is bound to be higher than the rest, said a former director of one of the older IITs.

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