Univs need to become drivers of innovation: Prez

JAMMU: Universities today need to become drivers of innovation and their focus should be on collaborative relationships with industry and Government, President Pranab Mukherjee said today.

Addressing the 14th convocation of Jammu University, he said entrepreneurial activities in universities could take various forms such as contract research, consultancy, patenting, licensing, spin outs, start-ups and incubating companies.

It is essential that universities create the right environment for promoting entrepreneurship amongst students as well as academicians, he told the students.

The convocation is being held after a gap of seven years. The last one was held on July 15, 2007, which was attended by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Referring to inter-linked aspect innovation and entrepreneurship, Mukherjee said realising the centrality of innovation in the growth and development process, 2010-20 has been declared as the ‘Decade of Innovation’.

India’s Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) policy 2013 emphasises boosting innovation through research and development (R&D), driven mainly by private sector participation, publishing more research papers, achieving gender parity in Science and Technology and seeking global cooperation.

“It is here that an University’s third axis, the first two being teaching and research, becomes critical. While it is well recognised the world over, enterprise incubation as a part of the academia – industry linkage is still at a nascent stage in India,” he said.

The function was attended by Governor N N Vohra, who is the Chancellor of the University, and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah who is also Pro-Chancellor of the varsity.

In total, 67 candidates who completed their Doctorates in the year 2013 in seven faculties shall be awarded Ph.D degrees and 68 candidates were awarded with the gold medal and cash awards.

Noting some of the landmarks that University of Jammu achieved in academic field, the President said as with everything else in the field of education, there is need to constantly strive for excellence in a global order which is dynamic, ever-changing and dismissive of mediocrity.

He said higher education in India faced great challenges today. On a broader platform, the 12th Plan places a high priority on education as an instrument for achieving accelerated and inclusive growth with emphasis on expansion, excellence and equity.

Quality upgradation of state-level institutions, which account for 96 percent of the higher education capacity, needs to be accorded high priority. The Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) is an important initiative in this direction, he said.

Noting that an important focus area is the role of innovation in higher education, Mukherjee said several policy initiatives have been taken in this area and they need to be implemented effectively to revitalise and boost the higher education framework.

One concept that has attracted attention and will mark a paradigm shift in higher education is that of the Meta University.

The idea of Meta Universities was started in 2012 where education institutes share learning resources with different universities by using latest technologies available in order to enable students to benefit from learning resources available in different institutions.

Students must be given complete flexibility and be benefited by the expertise and infrastructure available in other universities and institutions of higher learning.

“This kind of flexibility will create an environment conducive to innovation and promote inter-disciplinary approaches. It will also expand access while making the best use of technology,” Mukherjee said.

The President said J&K was emerging as a knowledge hub in the country with nine universities and more than 300 affiliated colleges.

“All these institutions would benefit by collaborating in teaching and research and establishing common research facilities,” he said.

The President asked the University of Jammu to move towards establishing research clusters to enable scholars and faculty members to explore emerging research areas, especially related to local and regional needs and to collaborate with industry and research organisations.

Some of the major thrust areas would be Horticulture, Floriculture, Soil dynamics, Seismology, Organic farming, Tourism, Precious gems and Handicrafts.

“I am sure that over time the University shall boast of world class, state-of-the-art research and innovation facilities along with the necessary eco-system to sustain them”, he said. (AGENCIES)