(To Separate words use + sign)
August 28, 2020
Union Minister for Science &Technology, Earth Sciences, Health& Family Welfare Dr.Harsh Vardhan today invited stakeholders and the public at large in the country and abroad to participate in formulating an evidence-driven, inclusive Science Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP 2020) for the country. He said that it would bring about technology indigenization to become self-reliant, mainstream traditional knowledge systems with conventional R&D, strengthen industry-academia, government interconnectedness and promote equity.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan was speaking at the inauguration of 'In Conversation With' - a series of exclusive interactions with thought leaders from across the country and Indian Diaspora on STIP 2020, which is being formulated. He also launched the 'STIP 2020 Page on MyGov Portal' along with 'popularization Quiz for school children' on 28th August 2020 in a virtual event here.
In his address, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that the entire STI ecosystem has undergone rapid transformation in terms of relevance, scope, and scale in the recent years. These must be captured into a policy to develop a long development trajectory and vision for the country. Moreover, COVID-19 has introduced some new learning and added dimensions to the STI system, he added.
Stating that "Achieving an 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' would need greater focus on the development of indigenous technologies and encouragement to grass root level innovation", the Minister emphasized that "There is an emergence of disruptive and impactful technologies and the country must take advantage of this".
Dr. Harsh Vardhan outlined, "The proposed STI policy is expected to leverage the astounding progress that the STI system has witnessed in recent years and build a long term pathway which must be able to fulfill the dreams and aspirations of millions of young Indian scientists and students". "This can be done only when we make policy formulation totally inclusive and participatory", he stressed.
Elucidating the policy formulation process, the Minister pointed out that "The STIP-2020 process has been divided into 4 interlinked tracks of actions. Track-I involves extended public and expert consultation with 6 activities which aim to reach out to India's every citizen living in any part of the country to get their ideas, suggestions, or comments for the policy. Track-II action relates to expert consultation, Track-III is for consultation with Ministries and States/UTs, and Track-IV comprises of apex level consultation and advice."
DST Secretary Professor Ashutosh Sharma highlighted, "As India and the world reorient in the present context of the COVID-19 crisis, a landmark policy initiative STIP 2020 has been initiated at this crucial juncture". "The formulation process, by design, is envisioned as an inclusive and participative model with interconnectedness among different tracks of activities", he added.
Later, in a discussion moderated by DST Secretary Professor Ashutosh Sharma, Dr. Harsh Vardhan took up a host of questions on STI ecosystem and STI Policy related issues. The participants too asked questions through live webex platform. He took innovative suggestions from them. Suggestions emerging from these discussions will serve as inputs to the STIP2020 policy process.
Dr. Akhilesh Gupta, Head - Policy Planning; Mr. Abhishek Singh, CEO, MyGov; Mr. Aditya Kaushik, Co-Founder, Science Policy Forum; Dr. Rabindra Panigrahy, DST Scientist; Dr. Nimita Pandey, DST - STI Policy Fellow; Dr. ChagunBasha, Senior Technical Specialist, Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor to Govt of India; were among various dignitaries who joined the function virtually.
August 21, 2020
The COVID 19 pandemic has thrown up the novel challenge of setting up rapid diagnostic facilities in remote areas which do not have adequate infrastructure. This calls for low cost devices that do not require very stringent storage facilities. Scientists have put in a research plan to meet this urgent requirement.
With support from the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), a statutory body under the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Ranchi, has initiated a research with the detection of a target protein using bioinformatics tool against which the diagnostic kit has to be developed. This study has taken the special domain of spike protein in consideration for the development of the diagnostic kit.
The researchers are developing an aptamer-based diagnostic kit for detection of SARS-Co-V2 infection. Their study will first ensure the detection of corona virus infection while subsequently, the kit will also differentiate the various types of corona virus infection (SARS Co-V1, MERS) including COVID 19 infection. The general corona virus infection may be detected on the basis of conserved domain present in all three corona virus infection (SARS Co-V1, MERS & COVID 19) while the differential kit will be developed on the basis of combination of conserved and non-conserved domain present in SARS-CoV2 virus, SARS-CoV2 virus & MERS virus respectively.
Armed with state-of-art expertise in molecular biology and drug delivery domain, Dr. Abhimanyu Dev, Assistant Professor at Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra (BIT Mesra) Ranchi, has teamed up with Dr. Venkatesan Jayaprakash, Associate Professor of the same Institute to carry out this research. The development of the diagnostic kit will be done at Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra lab while testing of kit will be conducted at Institute of Life Sciences (ILS), Bhubaneswar under supervision of Dr. Rajeeb Kumar Swain, Scientist E, ILS Bhubaneswar.
The aptamer-based technology is a relatively new technique. It can detect a number of infections in precise & efficient manner. Besides, it makes detection of COVID 19 infection less costly and the devices can be stored in less stringent conditions, making it more effective over conventional antibody-based detection techniques, especially for the rural and remotely located population. The detection of other corona virus infection (SARS-Co-V1 & MERS) will also be an added advantage of our research.
This kit also has the advantage of detecting corona virus infection in very less time as it will be a rapid diagnostic kit for detection based on the change in colour. Further, the kit will be less costly in comparison to antibody-based detection technique due to low production cost and requirement of the less stringent storage facility.
August 20, 2020
Researchers interested in translational research on Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage (CCUS) now have a major opportunity to accelerate and mature their technology and research activities as solutions to the growing problem of global climate change.
CCUS is one of the identified innovation challenges in the Mission Innovation (MI) Programme, a global initiative of 24 countries and the European Union to accelerate the global clean energy innovation in which the Department of Science & Technology (DST) is an active partner. The DST has already funded 19 R&D projects in the area of CCUS under the MI umbrella, partnering with 13 MI countries.
Currently, the DST has invited proposals from Indian researchers in the area of CCUS under Accelerating CCUS Technologies (ACT) in collaboration with other ACT member countries. This is an initiative to facilitate the emergence of CO2 Capture, Utilisation, and Storage (CCUS) via translational funding of projects aimed at accelerating and maturing CCUS technology through targeted innovation and research activities. Sixteen countries, regions, and provinces are working together in ACT with the ambition to fund world-class RD&D innovation that can lead to safe and cost-effective CCUS technology.
ACT is seeking innovative projects that range from smaller research projects to new or already existing pilot and demonstration facility sites. New pilot and demonstration facilities should have potential for upscaling to industrial size either in a demo phase or early commercial phase. Each project proposal has to be submitted by a project consortium consisting of at least three eligible applicants funded by at least three countries/regions participating in this ACT call. Each project's consortium must have the required expertise to undertake research and development within the specified themes.
The 15 ACT member countries and organizations have decided to participate in this third call and joined forces with each other. All funds will be allocated from national and regional budgets that support research and development as well as pilot and demonstration projects.
The ACT call is a two-stage process. Stage 1 invites pre-proposals, and Stage 2 invites full project proposals. The call for pre-proposals is open until 10th November 2020. By or on 10th December 2020, applicants that are successful in Stage 1 will be invited to enter Stage 2 of the procedure. The call for full proposals will close on 15th March 2021. The targeted start date for projects is end of September 2021.
The intention of ACT is to facilitate the emergence of CCUS by accelerating and maturing CCUS technology through targeted financing of innovation and research activities. ACT will address the technological, environmental, social, and economic challenges required to accelerate CCUS. Projects that incorporate or address the Priority Research Directions (PRDs, link) identified at the Mission Innovation CCUS Challenge Workshop (Houston 2017) will be particularly welcome.
To date, there have been two ACT calls, the first (in 2016), which mobilised funds from participating partners and the European Commission, and the second call (in 2018) was funded by participating national funding agencies only.
August 19, 2020
Start-ups are the initiative to bring innovation in mainstream. The action plan is to focus on simplification and handholding. Another important aspect of start-ups is industry-academia partnership and incubation. Looking at these aspects National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-National Aerospace Laboratories (CSIR-NAL) joined hands to establish an Innovation cum Incubation Centre with external private funding to promote start-ups in the emerging area of Aerospace technologies.
Under this program start-ups in the area of Aerospace engineering would be incubated, mentored and supported for product and prototype development and their validation. "It is a historical day as NRDC and CSIR-NAL forged an innovative partnership to promote Start-ups in the niche high tech area of Aerospace engineering and this partnership may pave a way for establishing Innovation cum Incubation Centres in other CSIR laboratories which are working in different thematic areas" said Dr. H. Purushotham, Chief Managing Director, NRDC. He also said that this partnership will help to create employment opportunities to the youth of our country as it is the need of the hour.
The agreement was signed by Dr. H. Purushotham and Dr. Jitendra J. Jadhav, Director, CSIR-NAL and was exchanged by the representatives of both the organisations in the presence of Dr. Shekhar C Mande, Secretary Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) and Director General CSIR, Shri R Vaidheeswaran, Joint Secretary, DSIR and other senior officials of CSIR and NAL at CSIR Head Quarters, New Delhi.
August 19, 2020
The COVID 19 pandemic has highlighted the need to set up systems to improve health infrastructure, particularly in rural areas. Portable hospitals for detecting, screening, identifying, isolating, and treating COVID-19 patients in local communities could soon be a solution to tackle the increasing demands for health infrastructure.
Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), an autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Govt. of India in collaboration with 'Modulus Housing' a start-up incubated by IIT Madras has come up with a solution using decentralised approach to detect, manage and treat COVID-19 patients in local communities through portable microstructures.
Mr. Subhash NN and Mr. Muraleedharan CV, scientists from SCTIMST along with Mr. Shreeram Ravichandran, Chief Executive Officer, Modulus Housing including his associates have developed the portable microstructure named as "MediCAB", which is modular, portable, durable, easy to set up and can be customised as per the requirements of the customer. It is foldable and is composed of four zones ? a doctor's room, an isolation room, a medical room/ward, and a twin-bed ICU, maintained at negative pressure. It can be easily transported and installed anywhere in geographic locations and can be erected in just two hours with the help of four persons. The cabins in the MediCAB are tightly sealed and are dust-proof. It has in-built electricals, which are just plug-n-play. MediCAB can withstand harsh weather and heavy rains as well.
It comes equipped with a prefabrication modular technology and a telescopic frame that allows the model to be shrunk to 1/5th of its original size, which makes it convenient for storage and transportation. These portable units come in three sizes ? 200, 400, and 800 sqft. The units can be installed at the car parking or at the terrace of the hospital according to the needs or availability of space at the facility.
As of now, a 30 bedded hospital at a cost of 34 lakhs (INR) at Chengalpet, Chennai at SugaHhealthcorp Private Corporation, and another 12 bedded hospital in Waynad, Kerala at a cost of Rs 16 Lakh at Primary Health Care, Varadoor- Govt. Organisation have been successfully installed as four-zone hospitals.
The team of Modulus Housing says that it is working on a dual design where these mobile hospitals can be rapidly launched as COVID-19 isolation wards. Modulus housing has delivered emergency housing solutions to prestigious clients across sectors such as L&T, Tata Group, and Shapoorji, Selco, during flooding. The Union Human Resources Ministry has lauded the effort on their social media platform.
"Foldable, portable, pre-fab hospitals that are easy to assemble on-site quickly provide a compelling solution to effectively addressing the needs of pandemics, disasters, and other contingencies," said Prof Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST.
August 18, 2020
Eight binational teams consisting of researchers from India and the US have received awards to pursue cutting-edge research in pathogenesis and disease management of COVID-19 through Indo-US virtual networks. The areas of research they will pursue include antiviral coatings, immune modulation, tracking SARS CoV-2 in wastewater, disease detection mechanisms, reverse genetics strategies, and drug repurposing.
The Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) announced the awards to eight binational teams, consisting of leading researchers from India and U.S for COVID-19 Indo-U.S. Virtual Networks in support of the efforts of the medical and scientific community to find solutions to the COVID 19 pandemic and emerging global challenges. The IUSSTF is an autonomous bilateral organization jointly funded by the Governments of India and the US that promotes Science, Technology, Engineering and Innovation through substantive interaction among government, academia and industry. The Department of Science & Technology, Governments of India and the U.S. Department of States are respective nodal departments.
The eight teams are among the best few who had submitted proposals in response to an invitation of proposals to harness the combined expertise of the Indian and U.S. Science & Technology communities, facilitate partnerships between teams of Indian and U.S. scientists and engineers currently engaged in COVID-related research, and leverage existing infrastructure from both countries to further advance the research and accelerate progress.
Following a rigorous binational peer-review process, these eight teams will be pursuing cutting-edge research in areas that include studies on pathogenesis and disease management in COVID-19, antiviral coatings, immune modulation, tracking SARS CoV-2 in wastewater, disease detection mechanisms, reverse genetics strategies, and drug repurposing.
Congratulating the teams, the Co-Chairs of the bilateral IUSSTF highlighted the importance of the US-India partnership. Professor Ashutosh Sharma , Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India and IUSSTF India Co-Chair said, "an overwhelming response in a short time to the special call on COVID-19 demonstrates a wide spectrum of cooperation between India and USA from the basic studies on the behavior of SARS-Cov-2 virus to its transmission to diagnostics and therapeutic approaches. Our existing strong cooperation in S&T on health, energy, artificial intelligence and so on. also continues to bring value and attests to the importance of Indo-US collaborations in providing compelling solutions."
Dr. Jonathan Margolis, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Science, Space and Health, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, U.S. Department of State, and IUSSTF U.S. Co-Chair remarked, "we are pleased that the United States and India were able to quickly mobilize, through IUSSTF, to support jointly developed innovations to fight COVID-19. Our people and economies both rely on science and technology to identify tools to address the pressing challenges of the current pandemic".
Global challenges call for global collaborations and partnerships, a shared vision bringing together the best and brightest scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to work together to find solutions, not only to address the current pandemic, but also for the challenges that lie ahead. "Through the sharing of expertise across scientific communities and geographic boundaries, the Indo-US Virtual networks will enable breakthroughs, leading to the development of innovative and transformative solutions to combat this pandemic", said Dr. Nandini Kannan, Executive Director IUSSTF.The mission of the binational Indo-US Science and Technology Forum is to act as a catalyst to promote long-term scientific collaborations between India and the United States through partnerships amongst individual scientists, scientific institutions, and the scientific community at large.
August 14, 2020
World Health Organisation (WHO)'s reports show that the worsening state of poor air quality is responsible for more than 7.5 million fatalities worldwide annually. This highlights the necessity for accurate, yet cost-effective monitoring of air quality parameters as monitoring is critical to solution. The current systems and technologies used for air quality monitoring are prohibitively expensive for wider deployment. This underlines the need for development of systems for real-time remote monitoring of relevant air quality parameters.
With the support from Department of Science and Technology's Clean Air Research Initiative, Prof. Rao Tatavarti, Director of Gayatri Vidya Parishad-Scientific and Industrial Research Centre (GVP-SIRC) & GVP College of Engineering, Visakhapatnam, has developed an indigenous photonic system for real-time remote monitoring of air quality parameters. Prof Tatavarti was supported by Prof. P. Arulmozhivarman from the School of Electrical Engineering, VIT University, Vellore, and other team members. The system titled AUM (Air Unique-quality Monitoring) had CATS Eco-Systems, Nashik as the technology transfer partner for commercialization.
The AUM system (patent pending) is an innovative application of the principles of laser backscattering, statistical mechanics, optoelectronics, artificial intelligence, machine/deep learning, and Internet of Things. It can identify, classify, and quantify various pollutants simultaneously (of orders of less than one part per billion) and meteorological parameters, with very high precision, sensitivity and accuracy.
AUM was successfully evaluated during laboratory trials with gold standards (in collaboration with EffecTech, UK), and also compared in the field with imported systems from France, and Australia and operated by Karnataka State Pollution Control Board under the aegis of the Central Pollution Control Board of India.
It has been found to be highly sensitive and accurate and capable of simultaneous detection and quantification of all air quality parameters and offers a number of merits over any of the currently available conventional systems. It is portable, compact, low powered and economical, works on plug and play system, requires no setting uptime, and no additional civil infrastructure for housing. It provides information on all gases and meteorological parameters simultaneously. It is a non-intrusive remote, real-time monitoring system with very high sensitivities and accuracies and is capable of monitoring in both spatial and temporal domains, with very high sampling frequencies. Also, the data from spatially separated sensors can be seamlessly streamed to a cloud server, from where digestible real-time encrypted information on dashboard is made available to user at any part of the world.
This system can boost the nation's efforts towards self-reliance in high-end technologies and can additionally be instrumental in supporting the endeavours in improving the nation's health and economy.
August 11, 2020 (N. Delhi)
Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, Professor Ashutosh Sharma, has emphasised that the future is all about convergence of digital technologies and that COVID 19 virus has provided the country opportunity to be part of the change rather than resisting it. Professor Sharmawas speaking at webinar on Digital Transformation in COVID-19.
"Use of digital technologies and machines can take the country to new heights and fulfil the dream of our Prime Minister of 'Atmanirbhar Bharat'," Professor Sharma pointed out. He added that data is the new Mantra, and we must value data to use it for our progress at the webinar organised by the Standing Conference of Public Enterprises (SCOPE).
Professor Sharma explained that future has been coming to us at a fast pace even before the COVID-19, but the virus has changed everything. It has disrupted every sector and every life beyond imagination. Its? impact is on all aspects-- whether it is availability of labour, supply chains, or logistics. However, the more disruptive the challenge, the bigger will be the achievement, and this is a very good time to think where we are and where we want to be.
He elucidated that several opportunities have been created in digital, cyber digital areas. "With the youth power we have, this is a great opportunity for all stakeholders to use it to enlarge the scope of business and to reach more people," Prof. Ashutosh Sharma stressed.
The pandemic has created pressures on the business environment, necessitating the adoption of technology and digitalization. Companies across sectors are accelerating investments in Digital Technologies to meet business requirements. SCOPE conducted the Webinar to discuss how various sectors can leverage Digital to operate in the new business environment.
The topics in the webinar included digital economy in COVID, digital disruptions & impact on key sectors, emerging digital themes in the wake of COVID-19, and realigning digital priorities.
The speakers included S.M.Vaidya, Chairman, IOC, Rakesh Kumar, CMD, NLC & Chairman, SCOPE, Sushant Rabra, Partner, KPMG India, and Manas Majumdar, Partner, KPMG India.