Technology Commercialization By Indian Universities: Hurdles & Opportunities

Technology commercialization plays an important role in boosting the economy of a nation. The process of transferring innovation from a laboratory or an IP finding from scientific research to market brings along numerous advantages such as the development of IP findings into a commercialized product, revenue generation, licensing opportunities, and enhancement in the economy of the concerned nation. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has brought along a sea of challenges, some of which have emerged as great opportunities for institutions, pharmaceutical companies, researchers, and philosophers. One of the most crucial challenges that are being faced by the world is the scantiness of resources such as PPE kits, ventilators, sanitizing equipment, drugs, vaccines, and immunity boosters required to fight the pandemic.

Scientists across the world are extensively developing concrete solutions to handle the situation. In these testing times, Indian universities have emerged as a savior by introducing some promising products, drugs, vaccines, and immunity boosters backed by intellectual property rights to combat the Covid-19 crisis. This entire process has opened doors for negotiations and commercialization between IP professionals and/or scientists and industries both in India and abroad. A few of the important technology commercialization associations led by Indian universities are discussed below: 

Technology Transfer Between CSIR-IGIB And Tata Sons:

CSIR-IGIB has developed a rapid testing kit named “Feluda” which utilizes an indigenously CRISPR Cas9 technology that is used to recognize COVID-19 sequence in a sample. The technology uses a sample of CRISPR biology and paper-strip chemistry which leads to a visible readout on a paper strip that can be used to confirm the validity of the viral infection in the sample. The CSIR-IGIB has transferred this technology to Tata Sons for further research and market commercialization. The testing kit claims to have certain advantages associated with it such as being a reasonable testing kit that is easy to use and thus reduces the dependence on expensive testing kits. 

CSIR-CSIO Transfers Electrostatic Disinfection Technology To Rite Water Solutions Pvt. Ltd.:

CSIR-CSIO has developed an electrostatic machine based on the principle. According to scientists, this machine is highly efficient as it generates fine disinfectant droplets having larger surface areas that result in better eradication of the virus. The droplets can also identify hidden targets and hence the machine overalls uses less amount of disinfectant thereby make it economical. The organization has handed over the responsibility of commercializing and generating the machine on a large scale to Rite Water Solutions Pvt. Ltd. 

IICT Hyderabad Transfers The Process Technology For Antiviral Drug Favipiravir To CIPLA:

Hyderabad based institution has successfully developed a synthetic process for producing “Favipiravir” which is used in clinical trials of Covid-19 in China, Japan, and Italy. The IICT Hyderabad has transferred the process and quantities of Pharmaceutical Ingredient of Favipiravir to Cipla for large scale production of the drug. CIPLA will work on the batch production of the drug and will conduct clinical trials before releasing the drug in the market.

IITs Ropar Brought Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation Technology To Fight COVID-19 Pandemic:

IIT Ropar has developed a trunk shaped sanitizing device that uses ultraviolet germicidal irradiation technology. The device can be placed at doorsteps and can be used to sanitize items such as goods, currency notes. The tool is developed at a very reasonable price and therefore can be used by common people to sanitize essential items. The processing period of the device is around thirty minutes after which it is cooled down before taking things out. 

Except for these examples, there are numerous other Indian universities which are working on different technologies to make drugs, immunity boosters, wrist-based tracker, antimicrobial coating and are transferring the product knowledge to industries for commercialization.

Hurdles & Opportunities in Technology Commercialization:

Hurdles

    • Financial Restrictions
    • Lack Of Adequate Research And Development
    • Fewer Commercialization Opportunities
    • Gap Between University Models and Industry Expectations
    • Deficiency Of Resources
    • Funding Issues

         

Opportunities

    • Licensing Opportunities
    • Protection Of Inventions Using IP
    • Enhanced Market Opportunity
    • Increased Investing Opportunities
    • Global Recognition
    • Increased Industry Approach  

Commercialization Oppositions For Universities:             

Despite the above-mentioned challenges and opportunities, one aspect to look at it is the possible commercialization oppositions for universities. The universities face continuous pressure from political and economic institutions. The policies surrounding the commercialization for universities is not updated on a frequent basis. For example, the funding policies, commercial opportunities, resources required for research are not worked upon and updated on a regular basis. Therefore, potential inventions are left undone due to the lack of support from the government. The university researchers are not shown the direction towards the transition of ideas from laboratories to market. In addition to this, the pressure of commercializing things is huge as the researchers are not provided with adequate opportunities to present the research economically.

Possible Solutions To Overcome The Commercialization Oppositions For Universities

Reformulating Academic And Industrial Policies:

The current policies surrounding the commercialization are not up to the mark as they don’t assign equal share to the researchers. There is no significant presence of an IP framework that could assist in building a sustainable relationship between the institute and the industry. With the soared impact of IP in the world, government agencies have started considering building advanced policies to provide a medium to the researchers to reach the industry for commercialization. The advance policies also aim to provide entrepreneurship opportunities backed by IP to the research institutions and universities.

Introducing Research Resources For Inventors: .

Most universities in India experience a lack of resources to perform adequate research. The resources include research equipment, training,  funds. Institutes like CSIR, ICAR, ICMR, and IITs are proactively working on research initiatives. However, there are still many universities that do not have access to such facilities. Therefore, it is the need of the hour to allocate separate funds for research and development, formulation of committees governing solely the research progress of the research performed by the universities. More awareness programs associated with Intellectual Property need to be introduced as it provides diverse options such as patenting the invention, licensing of the invention which can serve as fund generation along with the legal protection of the invention.

Creation Of Business Presentation Opportunities:

The universities in India have immense talent in the form of researchers which is not utilized completely. Training must be regularly provided to the researchers so that they are well aware of the current market scenarios along with the amendments required in the present strategies to produce a commercially viable product. In addition to this, exhibitions hosted by industries and government must be practiced dynamically to provide concrete platforms for knowledge transfer between the universities and the industries.

Bridging The Gap Between Laboratories And Marketplace:

The initial products or ideas conceived by the universities many times need to undergo an immense transformation in order to be commercially viable. The gap between the raw product produced by the universities and the final product launched by the industries needs to be reduced. The reduction of this gap will benefit both the parties as the universities will get more commercial share and the industries can commercialize a large number of products in the given time span which will eventually result in significant commercialization achieved as a result of the technology transfer. 

CONCLUSION

With the influence of continuous research and evident advantages of the commercialized research ideas, governments are becoming more active in allocating separate funds for resources, building committees responsible for formulating researcher friendly policies that can be used by university researchers to develop more realistic ideas. Further, intellectual property plays an important role as it provides numerous benefits such as licensing and recognition by global inventors thereby increasing the economy of the nation. Therefore, it is the need of the hour to encourage more ventures of successful associations between the scientists and the industries to ensure better commercialization opportunities for the universities.

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