GE, Intel join hands with SERB for fundamental research

M. Ramesh | Updated on: Jul 23, 2021
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The collaboration is under SERB’s initiative called Fund for Industry Research Engagement

US-headquartered multinationals, GE and Intel, have (separately) joined hands with Government of India’s research funding agency Science and Technology Research Board (SERB), to conduct fundamental research in the areas of the companies’ interest.

SERB is a statutory body established through an Act of the Parliament, meant to support basic research in science and technology.

This joint collaboration is under SERB’s latest initiative called Fund for Industry Research Engagement (FIRE)--an umbrella program under which industry and SERB issue calls for proposals for scientists to take up specific research projects.

While Intel signed up for FIRE ten days ago, GE did it today.

Speaking to BusinessLine about the collaboration, Alok Nanda, Chief Technology Officer, GE South Asia & CEO, GE India Technology Centre, said that GE and SERB would bring in up to ₹20 crore each for research in three broad areas of interest to GE—clean energy, affordable healthcare and clean aviation.

Soon, research problems under each of these heads would be formulated and thereafter a call for proposals from researchers would be put out, for “crowd-sourcing ideas”, said Sandeep Verma, Secretary, SERB. Then, the best of the proposals would be selected by a screening committee, and funded.

“This is how we work all over the world,” said Nanda, noting that fundamental research would be done by scientists and academicians, while the company—in this case, GE—would do program management. The basic research happens in a public-funded laboratory, once the promising green shoots of a technology evolves, the industry picks them up for further development and commercialization.

Verma said that SERB’s calls for proposals typically reached some 1,50,000 investigators (researchers) across the country. Nanda termed this reach as priceless.

The researcher would get to do a well-funded project and may use it for his own professional advancement. The industry partner harvests the benefits of the research. The intellectual property ownership is a matter of agreement between the industry partner and the researcher. “We (SERB) do not have any stake in the IP,” Verma said.

Published on July 23, 2021

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