COVID crisis stimulated innovation and enterprise in India: Vardhan

·2-min read

New Delhi, Dec 23 (PTI) The crisis due the coronavirus pandemic has stimulated innovation and enterprise in India, and a comprehensive mapping of the entire startup ecosystem has been done to identify and support relevant technology solutions, Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Wednesday.

Addressing the Overseas S&T Minister and Diplomats Conclave at the India International Science Festival, Vardhan said as many as 51 startup-driven innovative products are being financially supported to accelerate their market readiness and deployment.

A special call has been made through the Technology Development Board to support industries that have an appropriate and proven product or technology to commercialise or scale-up further, Vardhan said.

'The crisis has stimulated innovation and enterprise in India. A comprehensive mapping of the entire start-up ecosystem has been done to identify and support relevant technology solutions ready for scale-up,' the minister said.

Abas Basir, Minister of Higher Education, Afghanistan; Chhem Kieth Rethy, Minister Delegate attached to the Prime Minister and Secretary of State, Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology & Innovation, Cambodia; Myo Thein Gyi, Minister of Education, Myanmar; Fortunato T De La Peňa, Secretary (Minister) of Science and Technology, Philippines; Seetha Arrambepola, Minister of Skill Development, Vocational Education, Research Innovation, Sri Lanka; and lbrokhim Yu Abdurakhmonov Minister of Innovative Development, Uzbekistan attended the event virtually.

Vardhan, who is also the Union health minister, said India's response to the pandemic has been driven by the wisdom and evidence of science.

'We have drawn lessons at every stage and we have not hesitated to accept the advice of our doctors and scientists or to adopt global best practices,' he said.

COVID-19 created a spike in demand for pharmaceuticals, especially hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol. Recently, the announcement of USD 10 million towards a COVID-19 emergency fund by Prime Minister Narendra Modi was used to send drugs, medical supplies, and machines to our neighbouring countries like Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives, and Sri Lanka, Vardhan said.

During the current pandemic, India has already supplied anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and paracetamol to more than 60 coronavirus-hit countries, he said.

'Today, the focus has shifted to vaccine production and rapid testing. Many vaccines are in the advanced stage of development and India is slated to become one of the largest manufacturers of vaccines in the world. India is deeply involved in many international collaborations and initiatives,' he said.

Under the Partnerships for Accelerating Clinical Trials (PACT), capacity building activities for facilitating phase III clinical trials of Indian COVID vaccines with partnering nations are being supported. Three training modules with nearly eight sessions have been successfully completed for 100 participants from Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the minister said. PTI PR IJT