Tamil Nadu will be embarking on a unique academia-industry initiative under which it will attempt to tie up specialist departments across universities in the state with potential organisations across the world in a move that is aimed at fuelling high-quality R&D activities in the State, said Vishnu Venugopal, MD and CEO, Guidance.

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A generalistic initiative may not yield the desired results in terms of R&D work. There are pockets or islands of excellence where individual departments or professors within university campuses excel in particular domains. For eg, IIT-Madras is excelling in research areas associated with electronics and networks. The State government has been trying to create a list of specific centres of excellence and enable them to forge partnerships with interested research organisations across the world, he said while addressing a CII Conference on Automotive R&D Trends

‘Positive outcomes’

There were some initial positive outcomes as Coherent, optical materials and semiconductors, has set up a small centre of excellence in IITM Research Park. They decided to come to India after evaluating China, Vietnam, and other countries. This is a precursor to setting up their manufacturing operations because the US company wants to test the water and the governance structure in the country before deciding on future expansion, Venugopal added.

With such focused effort, the state government seeks to attract more investment into the R&D area. The Tamil Nadu government has also come out with an R&D policy to incentivise companies that are setting up their R&D centres in the State.

He also explained a three-pronged approach by the state government helped it attract numerous investments. Firstly, the State is being projected to companies that are looking to set up operations for the first time as a result of China+1 or other growth plans. Secondly, to attract companies that are in other States but not in Tamil Nadu and finally, support the companies already in the state to expand here.

“This has worked in favour of the State and it was also reflected with multiple investments by a large number of companies during the recently concluded global investors’ meet,” he added.

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Discussing the transformation in the automotive industry, Satyakam Arya, Conference Chairman and MD and CEO, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles said: this is a phase where technology and R&D have once again come to the forefront with the focus not only on hardware but also on software and data. “Tamil Nadu has become a magnet for global capability centers and offshore R&D centers across diverse domains,” he added.