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6 July, 2006 - 10:32 By Staff Reporter

India to use Cambridge as its role model

Key influencers from India’s leading science and technology institutions are to use Cambridge entrepreneurship as an exemplar to commercialise more of their innovation.

Key influencers from India’s leading science and technology institutions are to use Cambridge entrepreneurship as an exemplar to commercialise more of their innovation.

They emerged from a Cambridge fact finding mission inspired to transplant the entrepreneurial model that maximises collaborations between industry and academia in this region.

The East meets East summit took in a number of Cambridge science and hi-tech businesses as well as leading nanotechnology and advance photonics institutes.

India’s Minister for Science & Technology, Kapil Sibal, was among high ranking officials in the delegation, spearheaded by the Indo-UK Science and Innovation Council.

The visit was organised via the India High Commission in collaboration with the University of Cambridge Judge Business School and was hosted by Dr Shai Vyakarnam, director of the university’s Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning.

He said: “The aim was to establish better connections with the Cambridge community and to gain an insight into how the city has developed an environment for innovation and entrepreneurship – especially in the hi-tech sector.

“Very senior officials from India’s leading science and technology institutions both expressed their determination to stay in close touch with the Centre for Entrepr-eneurial Learning because of the manner in which we had linked industry with academia through entrepreneurship.

“A number of delegates said they had not been able to make such successful links between science and enterprise and were full of praise for the way in which Cambridge had achieved this so successfully.

“They saw people in academia in Cambridge engaged with industrial partners and wondered at the marriage of scholarship and entrepreneurship. They were very impressed with the quality of science & technology they saw at local companies and institutions.”

Science & Technology Minister, Kapil Sibal, told Business Weekly that his organisation was highly supportive in terms of funding Indian entrepreneurs with scientific innovation.

But he was keen to see what India could learn from the Cambridge model. He was particularly impressed with local technology hothouse Cambridge Consult-ants Ltd where CEO Brian Moon presented case studies on hi-tech collaborations.

Commercialising technology cost-effectively and juggling sensitive Intellectual property Rights issues had become part of CCL’s stock in trade, he told the visitors.

Moon said CCL had only recently begun to recognise the potential in collaborations with Indian pharmaceutical and hi-tech partners and he was keen to pursue opportunities.

CCL was certainly marked high on the Indian Science Minister’s memorandum, of relationships to follow-up on his return.

The delegation was also interested to learn of Dr Vyakarnam’s new venture, ThinkIndia – a company designed to exploit academic and commercial collaborations between Cambridge and India.

Dr Vyakarnam and Business Weekly MD, Tony Quested – a non-exec director of ThinkIndia – explained the objectives of the new enterprise and were pledged vigorous support in the bid to build a collaborative bridge across communities in the respective territories.

Stronger links are also being forged between India and the UK at a national level, it was subsequently revealed.

Between £6.5m and £8m has been pledged by the Indian government for India-UK joint working in research as part of the newly-launched UK-India Education & Research Initiative (UKIERI).

Britain’s Science & Innovation Minister Lord Sainsbury revealed the funding boost following the inaugural meeting of the Indo-UK Science and Innovation Council.

Launched two months ago by Tony Blair with overall UK start-up funding of £16m, India’s contribution will match the anticipated science-based research element of UKIERI.

Lord Sainsbury said: “India and the UK are already partners of choice in science, technology and innovation.

“This new money will help universities, research institutions and businesses in both countries forge better links for mutual benefit.”

The UK government’s chief scientific adviser Sir David King also welcomed the Indian announcement.

He said: “This agreement puts UKIERI firmly on a bilateral footing – UK scientists have so much to gain from interaction with their Indian counterparts and matched funding from the Indian side allows us to widen and deepen the initiatives planned.”

Discussions at the Council covered a wide range of areas – including climate change research, carbon capture storage, civil nuclear research and scientific entrepreneurship.


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