Science can make economic sense only when we wake up the scientist in an entrepreneur and also the entrepreneur in a scientist. Nations that occupy leading positions have successfully done this but in India we have not done it so successfully. Further our science-business links have been traditionally very poor.
The fundamental problem that we have today is that the research institutions and the business units in industry have different cultures. The fact that science has to make an economic sense has not dawned on our institutions. On the other hand, the fact that competitive advantage in business can only be reached by using cutting edge science alone has not been realised by our industry. There is a difference in the basic orientation between the institutions and the industry. The institutions work on the basis of scientific novelties and perceived needs, whereas the business units work on the basis of attractiveness in the market and potential for profit. There is a need for both the R&D institutions as well as industry to change their mind sets.
What changes of mind sets will be required if the science-business link in India has to be strengthened? Firstly, our Indian industry will have to champion R&D with a vigour. Apart from its willingness to invest in R&D, the industry should be willing to take risks and should; have patience to wait for returns. Publicly funded institutions should be used idea generators and providers of new concepts by our industry. Industry should not simply look at the institutions as super markets, where off the shelf technologies are sold. Indian indsutry should be prepared to assume the role of partners, who have the technical, financial and karketing strengths to take ideas to the market place. In the true spirit of partnership, the industry should willingly integrate national R&D resources into their business strategy. All this would be possible only when we can change the climate for an interaction between our institutions and the industry with an improved communication and understanding, faith in mutual growth and development of healthy working relationships.