New Delhi, Aug 18 (PTI) The Department of Science and Technology (DST) is working to launch a programme that will help scale up start-ups in the country, a senior official said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a webinar -- 'Millennium Alliance Round 6 & COVID-19 Innovation Challenge Awards' organised by the FICCI, DST Secretary Ashutosh Sharma said the last six years have been exceptional for the innovation ecosystem.
The DST established more incubators in the last six years than in the previous 60 years, he said.
“Today, we support 150 technology business incubators across the country -- many of them in universities, IITs. There are around 4,000 start-ups in these incubators. We want to scale them up,” he said.
Sharma added that in the coming months, the DST would launch a new programme and it will be a highly distributed innovation system.
The DST plans to scale it up five times the current number in the next five years, the secretary said.
“We are working to start a Programme on Entrepreneurship and Start-up,” Sharma said.
The secretary said science, technology and research will play a significant role in the fight against COVID-19 globally with innovators, entrepreneurs, scientists and global companies modifying and adapting existing technologies as well as developing new ones across various industries in response to the pandemic.
“In the past six months, we witnessed dynamic Indian innovators and start-ups rise to the occasion to develop new technologies/solutions across a wide spectrum such as diagnostic, prevention, sanitisation, etc. in response to the pandemic,” he added.
Sharma said the current crisis has also highlighted the extremely important need for countries to collaborate and work together to leverage innovation for the larger good.
“India continues to play a leading role in supporting our partners across the developed and developing world to tackle this pandemic and beyond,” he said.
The Millennium Alliance is a consortium of partners (public-private partnership) including the Department of Science and Technology, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), UK Government's Department for International Development (DFID), Facebook and Marico Innovation Foundation.
The programme is currently running in its sixth year and has played a catalytic role in providing funding, capacity building and business development support to Indian social enterprises, the organisers said.
The Millennium Alliance Initiative also announced the award of USD 3.6 million (Rs 26.25 Crore) to 49 aspiring Indian social entrepreneurs for their innovative solutions to address Indian and global development challenges.
Among them, 33 innovative solutions will focus on health, agriculture, clean energy, education, water and sanitation and disability.
The remaining 16 solutions will respond to the challenges posed by the current COVID-19 crisis in India and Africa/South Asia with support (up to USD 1.3 million) from the UK Government, the FICCI said in a statement.
Speaking about the Millennium Alliance initiative, Sharma said it directly contributes towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including poverty alleviation, hunger reduction, good health and well-being, quality education, clean water and sanitisation, affordable and clean energy and partnerships.
Sir Philip Barton, British High Commissioner to India, stressed that now more than ever, the global community should come together to tackle the challenges faced by all.
Referring to the Serum India Institute, chosen by the Oxford University and its partner AstraZeneca to manufacture the COVID-19 vaccine once it is ready, Barton said on the medical side, the response to the pandemic is absolutely at the forefront of the UK-India partnership.
“The Millennium Alliance Awards recognise the creativity of innovators in providing solutions to the current COVID-19 crisis. As a joint force for good, the UK-India are working together to address global development challenges across health, agriculture, clean energy, education, water and sanitation and disability sectors,” Barton added.
Participating in the event, the Chargé d'Affaires, US Embassy, Edgard Kagan said the United States and India have a long history of collaboration in the development sector, including working together on cutting-edge research and building partnerships that promote science and technology-based innovation and entrepreneurship.
He said the initial investment by the US and Indian governments of USD 7.7 million each has unlocked significant amounts and further investments by other partners.
'That reflects the fact that people realise that we are all better when we are together,' Kagan said. PTI PR RDM RDM