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Posted: Jan 25, 2013
Nanotechnology in India - companies, research, and degree programs
(Nanowerk News) The emergence of nanotechnology in India has witnessed the engagement of a diverse set of players, each with their own agenda and role. Nanotechnology in India is a government led initiative. Industry participation has very recently originated. Nanotechnology R&D barring a few exceptions is largely being ensued at public funded universities as well as research institutes.
Department of Science and Technology (DST), the chief agency engaged in the development of nanotechnology, initiated India’s principal programme, the Nanoscience and Technology Mission (NSTM) in 2007, with an allocation of Rupees 1000 crores for a period of five years. The five-year programme followed the flagship initiative, the Nanoscience and Technology Initiative (NSTI) that was in operation from 2001–06.
According to a 2010 briefing paper ("Nanotechnology development in India: the need for building capability and governing the technology"; pdf) by the Energy and Resource Institute (TERI), close to 200 projects have been undertaken in the NSTI and NSTM since 2002. The DST has also set up "Centers of Excellence (CoE) for Nanoscience and Technology" established under the NSTI to undertake R&D to develop specific applications in a fixed period of time. On the whole the 19 CoE have been spread across 14 distinct institutions. These CoE have been set up primarily at those institutes that have either been engaging in nanotechnology based R&D prior to their establishment or have developed the resources to do so.
Aside DST, several other agencies with diverse mandates are also actively engaged in supporting nanotechnology in the national arena. DBT (Department of Biotechnology) is supporting research in nanotechnology and the lifesciences. CSIR (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research), a network of 38 laboratories that engages in scientific and industrial R&D for socio-economic benefit has also commissioned R&D in nanotechnology in diverse areas. SERC (Science and Engineering Research Council) too has aided projects on nanotechnology. Support for these projects has been through its general R&D schemes for basic science and engineering science.
There is a clear emphasis on fostering public–private partnerships (PPP) to meet the demands of developing a capital-intensive technology such as nanotechnology. The Nano Mission lays down as one of its objectives that ‘special effort will be made to involve the industrial sector into nanotechnology R&D directly or through PPP ventures’. Of the six PPP launched under the Mission, three are in the pharmaceutical sector. CSIR’s flagship program New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative (NMITLI), India’s largest public–private partnership scheme also has a few nanoprojects under its umbrella and is an initiative by the government to get industry on board with public funded R&D. A Planning Commission study has called for the creation of a National Institute of Nanotechnology in Agriculture (NINA) under National Agricultural Research System.
Currently, there are companies in India involved in nanotechnology-related business activities.
In addition, there are nanotechnology and nanoscience-related research and community organizations in India.