Rs 80-crore boost to international research outreach at IIT Kharagpur
Grant will come through Centre’s SPARC programme
The Union education ministry has released a Rs 80-crore grant for IIT Kharagpur towards the second phase of the Scheme for Promotion of Academic & Research Collaboration (SPARC) Programme.
In 2019-20, more than 300 international experts visited Indian institutions registered under SPARC for various projects and workshops in 2019-20. Close to 400 research proposals have been approved for funding to date. Over 26% of the R&D proposals and international outreach are focused on Emergent Areas of Impact which included areas such as Advanced Electronics and Communication, Advanced Functional and Meta Materials, Structural Genomics and Evolutionary Biology, Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science, Infectious Disease & Clinical Research.
This segment was followed by Action-Oriented Research with 24% accepted proposals in areas including Future of Earth: Green and Renewable Technologies, River, Ocean, Aviation and Space Management Technology, Technology Enhanced Education and Learning, including Assistive Technologies, Agricultural and Food Sustainability, Technologies for Rural and Women Empowerment, Law and Society.
Convergence areas of research is another significant segment with 22% proposals in areas covering Transportation and Smart Infrastructure, Affordable Health Care, Advanced Manufacturing, Science and Heritage, Energy and Water Sustainability.
“The data indicates a clear shift towards transdisciplinary research addressing global challenges and cutting-edge research. The insights will further boost international collaboration opportunities for science and technology institutes in India by aligning their thrust areas with global trends,” said Virendra K. Tewari, director, IIT Kharagpur, and the national coordinator for the SPARC programme.
Participation from the US, Australia and the UK witnessed highest visits covering close to 65% of the international faculty visitors in 2019-20.
Talking about the road ahead, professor Adrijit Goswami of IIT Kharagpur, who is heading the pan-India coordination of the programme, said, “Going online is the New Normal roadmap at least for programmes such as SPARC and GIAN. While the online mode has its drawbacks, on the brighter side it may increase the opportunities, especially for those who otherwise find such collaborative work arduous because of extended physical visits.”
In one such initiative, IIT Kharagpur organised the International Conference on Emerging Trends in Healthcare Technology in Post-COVID-19 Era with expert participation from the US, UK, Australia, Sweden, South Africa, The Netherlands, India and Amit Khare, secretary, department of higher education.
“With Phase II funding of Rs 80 crore and the structured format of e-workshops, webinars, online classes and even research in virtual mode, the scope for productive academic collaborations at the SPARC-approved collaborating Institutes look promising,” Goswami said.