The Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PMSTIAC) has launched nine mission of national importance, including those on artificial intelligence, quantum computing, electric vehicles and deep ocean exploration.

The missions that would be led by a nodal ministry with collaborations from other ministries, research institutions and industry partners are expected to focus on complex problems faced in each of these chosen fields within a stipulated time-frame.

“The idea is to look at the complexity of our science and technology landscape and see how various challenges faced by the country can be addressed by the coming together of people who otherwise work in silos,” said K VijayRaghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA) to the government, at a press conference here on Wednesday.

PMSTIAC, constituted in October last year, met four times to identify the mission areas. The council, headed by VijayRaghavan, has NITI Aayog member VK Saraswat, former ISRO Chairman AS Kiran Kumar, Field Medal-winning mathematician Manjul Bhargava and Indian National Science Academy President Ajay Kumar Sood among others, as members. PSA’s office is expected to coordinate and monitor the activities on a regular basis.

The missions are aimed at understanding and conserving biodiversity, developing sustainable agricultural processes, leveraging precision health for personal well-being, recovering wealth from waste, developing and using artificial intelligence, quantum computing, connected mobility solutions and other technologies to address frontier scientific questions and the challenges that the country in particular and the planet in general face, he said.

Quantum mission

While the Quantum Frontier mission will focus on quantum technologies such as quantum computing, quantum cryptology and quantum communication, the mission on artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to witness close academia-industry collaboration at national as well as international levels in creating new knowledge as well as in developing and deploying applications. While the Department of Science and Technology (DST) would be lead agency for quantum mission, NITI Aayog is expected to spearhead the AI mission.

Similarly, the Department of Biotechnology and Department of Health Research will lead a mission on harnessing bioscience for improving health of Indians.

One of the major tasks cut out for those involved in electric vehicles is to making them energy-efficient and economically viable. Those working on this mission will have to develop light and efficient batteries, vehicle sub-systems and components suitable for Indian conditions, including rare-earth based electric motors.

The Ministry of Earth Sciences will spearhead a mission that intends to scour the deep ocean.

Conserving biodiversity

Other missions would include the one for creating wealth from waste, conserving biodiversity, building an innovation ecosystem for start-ups and using a combination of machine and human translation techniques to help Indian students who are not well-versed in English language access scientific knowledge.