India is now looking for new ideas which could be useful to other developing countries as well, a senior Indian official has said, asserting that the country is taking steps to have such an ecosystem.
Renu Swarup, Senior Advisor, DBT and Managing Director, Biotechnology Industrial Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) told PTI in an interview that India is formulating policies to provide innovative solutions to the developing countries.
"What is important here is to see that what we support as innovations is not just innovations which are just of interest to India but innovations which can be scaled and be of importance to the other developing countries," Swarup said.
Swarup was here this week leading an Indian delegation to attend the Grand Challenges Annual Meeting 2017, a global event that brought together funding and research partners.
The event was addressed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Bill Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Funders' Forum which preceded the start of the annual meeting, underscored the importance of India's role as an innovation-investor and the value that its pool of scientific and entrepreneurial talent can bring to the global network.
One of the grand challenge in which India is participating on all children thriving has actually got partnerships from other countries including Brazil and South Africa, she said.
There are a number of innovations mainly related to maternal and child health which are important for scale up.
But under the grand challenges there are innovations which are important from the sanitation viewpoint, Dr Swarup said.
BIRAC, which is a public-sector undertaking, has supported some 500 innovators as startups.
For instance, the re-invent the toilet scheme, which is in line with the Swachh Bharat scheme, BIRAC is trying to fund cost-effective hygienic toilers for semi-rural, semi-urban and rural population.
"Here we have got excellent results and a lot of scale up studies," said Shirshendu Mukherjee, Mission Director, PMU- BIRAC.
According to Dr Swarup, Indian Government through DBT has partnered with many countries to address societal needs like better agriculture practices, improved child health, clean energy, and sanitation.
Grand Challenges India exemplifies the government's focus on creating an ecosystem that nurtures and encourages innovation to make real and measurable changes to issues most relevant to the society, she said.
Through this partnership, the government is able to tap in to the best and brightest minds and highest levels of expertise to ideate and collaborate with, as well as mentor Indian innovators, she added.
In a press release, DBT said under this program Indian innovators have received over USD 12 million in funding to identify needs and find solutions that relate to improving agricultural practices, nutrition and the well-being of mothers and children.
Some of the projects are a novel approach to reduce zinc malnutrition in rural women and children through agronomic bio-fortification of food crops by Amity University, Noida; and a community-level implementation of Domestic Solar Conduction Dryer (SCD) by Society for Science (S4S), as a low-cost method by which food produce can be dehydrated and stored for up to a year, thereby prolonging the shelf life of seasonal produce ensuring economic security to participating women farmers.
Grand Challenges India funded nearly 20 projects across four programs in a period of five years.
"These innovations need to be scaled up within India. And once the impact is felt within India, it makes sense to scale it globally.
"The conversations that we're having with a grand challenge group now, especially the fact that you have more partners joining in from South Africa, Brazil and others gives our innovators a platform to be able to interact with other countries. This is the first step in that direction," Swarup said.